Cocoa Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

One of the first emotions to set in for a woman upon learning she’s pregnant is fear: Fear that she won’t be a good mom, will never lose the baby weight, will have a tough labor, will miscarry, and perhaps most commonly, will eat all the wrong foods and not enough of the right ones. Many of those fears linger for the duration of pregnancy, but when it comes to diet, there is no shortage of resources to help assuage the worries and doubts.  Included among them is a new book by friend and food writer Tara Desmond, appropriately titled Full Belly: Good Eats for a Healthy Pregnancy (which, by the way, she penned while carrying twins with a toddler in tow).


What I like about Tara’s book is its focus, which is squarely on celebrating what pregnant women can eat rather than what they can’t. Case in point are these scrumptious Cocoa Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies. It’s a bit of misnomer, really, that when pregant, you’re eating for two. In fact, you only get a weensy 300 or so extra calories a day to nourish that baby, so you have to make them count. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for the buckets of ice cream pregnant ladies are purported to eat. But there is room for treats, especially ones that work in nourishing ingredients as is the case with these whoopie pies. They’re made with whole grain flour, cashews, peanut butter, bananas, and have about half the calories of traditional whoopie pies (which are typically made with copious amounts of shortening and sugar).

So embrace that full belly. Feed it well. Whoopie pies are a delicious place to start.

Note: In addition to inspiring recipes, Tara’s book is loaded with tips and first hand experience (her own and others) on navigating the dietary challenges of pregnancy. Below the recipe you’ll find her handy chart of foods to avoid when pregnant.

Cocoa Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

During my first pregnancy, whoopie pie mania was sweeping the food world. There were cook-books dedicated to them, storefronts showing them off, and magazine centerfolds reserved for them. I think I could count on one hand the number of times in my life I’d eaten them before, and while the cake-like sandwich with fluffy filling doesn’t have to try hard to sell itself, I would typi-cally swoon over about a hundred other sweet treats first. But during that pregnancy, those soft little mounds put a dumbstruck look in my eye and a bit of drool on my lip. So I set out to make a whoopie pie that would make me feel good about . . . or at least not that bad about . . . giving in to the temptation. Compared with a popular recipe for a classic fluff-stuffed whoopie, this one has nearly 200 fewer calories, 7 less g of fat and only 1 g of saturated fat (as opposed to 8), no choles- terol (rather than 51 mg), and not an ounce less of oozy, messy, sticky indulgent goodness. This recipe’s richness comes from raw cashew cream and light coconut milk, not butter or oils. The bananas and just ¹?2 cup/110 g of granulated sugar supply the cake’s sweetness. What’s more, chocolaty peanut butter BCPBs beg to be washed down with a glass of cold milk, a perfect source of calcium.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings 1 1/2 dozen whoopie pies


  • 1 1/2 cups /187 g whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup /47 g unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup /76 g raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons/ 162 ml light coconut milk , divided
  • 3 large over-ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup /110 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup /131 g creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup /117 g confectioners’ sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas 5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Put the cashews and ¹?2 cup/118 ml of the coconut milk in the carafe of a blender. Blend until a thick cream forms, about 20 to 30 seconds. Add the bananas, granulated sugar, and vanilla and blend again until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  4. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Fold everything together into a dense batter using a large rubber spatula.
  5. Drop 36 heaping tablespoons of batter with about 1 inch/2.5 cm of space around each one on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cakes are dry but still soft to the touch. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool completely.
  6. While the cakes cool, make the filling. Using an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and remaining 3 tablespoons of coconut milk in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar a few tablespoons at a time, until all of it is incorporated and the peanut butter mixture is smooth and thick.
  7. Once the cakes are cool, assemble the whoopie pies. Spread 1 tablespoon of the peanut butter filling on the flat side of one of the cakes. Sandwich it with another cake to complete the whoopie pie.
  8. Refrigerate for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
  9. BELLY BONUS: While most versions induce a sugar high that quickly deflates like a whoopee cush-ion, these whoopie pies actually offer sustaining energy with protein from nuts, natural sugars, and whole grain flour. Pack one as a to-go snack or an afternoon pick-me-up.

Reprinted with permission from FULL BELLY © 2014 Tara Mataraza Desmond, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.



Foods to Avoid When you are Pregnant

What to avoid when you are pregnant

Reprinted with permission from FULL BELLY © 2014 Tara Mataraza Desmond, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.


Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Full Belly



05.11.2015 at4:02 AM #


Recipes like this – giving a healthy twist to a traditionally unhealthy, guilt-riden food, makes me happy, even a little giddy. Two questions. I’m assuming replacing cashews with almonds wouldn’t be a problem? And, what’s your take on cholesterol. I hear more and more that our cholesterol levels in our bodies don’t come directly from the cholesterol we ingest. Your thoughts? Thank you always!!

05.11.2015 at4:02 AM #

Katie Morford

Hi Carolyn,

I am all for substitutions, but I might hesitate to use almonds instead of cashews here. Cashews are softer and blend into a sort of cream in a way that almonds may not. As for cholesterol, we’ve long known that our bodies make cholesterol. We also get cholesterol from diet. I think what is new is that there is less concern over the role of dietary cholesterol in promoting heart disease, which is why today nutrition professionals aren’t warning the public away from eating eggs (a source of cholesterol) in a way they once were.

05.11.2015 at11:33 AM #

Liz - Meal Makeover Mom

I love Whoopie Pies! They are big here in New England. Love how she health-ified it. Pinning now 🙂

05.11.2015 at11:33 AM #

Katie Morford

Healthi-fied, but still delicious, which is the best combo.

07.13.2019 at3:38 PM #


Allergic to bananas. Could I use apple sauce instead? Or what would you recommend?

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