Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Author! Author! Bravo To Those Whoopie Pies!

I was so happy to go to a book reading of Jennifer Weiner’s hot-off-the-presses new book, Then Came You, at the Princeton Public Library this afternoon. She was funny and smart and reminded me of my best gal pals.

But I had another reason, aside from any literary pretensions, for being there. A local bakery, Sugar + Sunshine Bakery, was providing freshly baked whoopie pies and I wanted to check them a kind of public service, of course. I have to give them props for making really superb ones.

There were peanut butter-filled whoopie pies...

strawberry-filled whoopie pies...

and the classic white-filled whoopie pies...

Their crumb was perfect - moist, but still cakey, without being in the least dry. I had the peanut butter one. (I really didn't want to be mowed down by book-loving, whoopie pie fanatics, so I only tried that flavor - it was the closest one to where I was standing.) The filling was creamy, but not greasy. The peanut butter flavor was pronounced, but not cloying. And there was no crumbling, so they made for very neat eating, which I'm sure the library appreciated.

It’s pretty wonderful that at each of the stops on Weiner’s book tour, the audience will be treated to locally-made whoopie pies. That’s even more reason to admire her.

Today, the appreciative audience included one person who came from Ohio and another who drove 3 hours from Pennsylvania. Weiner’s delightful presentation included hilarious anecdotes from her recent stay in Los Angeles as executive producer of State of Georgia on the ABC Family Network. (She had to explain what that was to her grandmother and why her show wasn’t on the regular ABC network.) She also admitted that everything she ever learned about making a television show she learned from Liz Lemon on 30 Rock.

But back to the food angle - Interestingly, last year Weiner’s book tour featured cupcake giveaways. This year, she changed it up and went with whoopie pies.

To be clear, when I refer to whoopie pie, I mean 2 discs of cake, sandwiched with an icing-like filling. Cupcakes, of course, have been the rage for quite a while, but there are a few reasons to think that the popularity of Whoopie Pies might be on the rise:
Whoopie Pies are much easier to eat than cupcakes. The icing is on the inside, so you don’t have the sticky hand problem (as much).
The ratio of icing (which is on the inside) to cake is much larger than with cupcakes, so each bite of a whoopie pie contains more of the best part – the filling.

You don’t have to deal with bothersome cupcake papers. Each whoopie pie stands on its own.
The NAME – whoopie pie – is much more entertaining than the slightly cutesy “cupcake”.

Whoopie pies have a pleasing flying saucer shape, which makes them suitable for parties about or for aliens.
I mentioned Jennifer Weiner’s own whoopie pie recipe here, and there are MANY great recipes out there to try.

Incidentally, I do know that the classic filling is marshmallow fluff and vegetable shortening, but unless I was making them to put into a time capsule to last 100 years, I would always go with a buttercream or 7 minute icing-type of filling.

I did an informal survey of the whoopie pie recipe landscape out there and here are some of the ones I really want to try:
A yummy inside-out version of a whoopie pie with a chocolate ganache-style filling - Reverse Whoopie Pies
Here are’s 7 Best Whoopie Pie Recipes. I wish I had been in on the taste testing.
But some of the best recipes I’ve seen are from Donal Skehan, who had the fabulous idea of mixing nutella and peanut butter for his filling. It doesn’t hurt that he is completely and totally cute. Two of his whoopie pie recipes are here. If you need help un-metricating, drop me a line.
All in all, it was a great day with a captivating author, a good book to look forward to and an excellently executed whoopie pie.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry I couldn't make this event. It sounds like it was a really good one. Thanks for the recap and recipes!

Anonymous said...

Interesting that one recipe uses the creaming method and the other uses melted butter for the cakes. You'd think they'd be very different that way. I'll have to try them both and see which is better. But for filling, I just can't make myself eat whipped shortening, so I'll stick to the one with butter!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Whoopie pies are on my list of desserts I must try to make. I'm thinking Nutella in the filling would be pretty awesome...

First I hear that whoopie pies are the new cupcakes, but then I heard it was pies,but then I thought cupcakes were the new pies. It's all so confusing!

Abandoned By Wolves said...

My wife is the baker/dessert maven in our family, so I am passing this on to her, along with a certain amount of "big sad puppy eyes" when I mention the prospect of whoopie pies.

Sue said...

You would have loved her...and the whoopie pies. Next time...

Yeah, that IS interesting. This blogger, Food Geek, explains the whole thing pretty well here. Basically, CREAMING the butter creates air bubbles which assist in the rising of the baked product. MELTING the butter gives a denser texture. (He also wrote an interesting exposé on the difference between muffins and cupcakes. Really enlightening and full of common sense.)

Mixing Nutella with peanut butter is inspired.

I'm with you. I can't keep track of what's what and what's hot. Do you remember when madeleines were the new scones? And now it seems like macarons are new oreos. The one thing that never changes is Twinkies. Thank goodness! And I mean they LITERALLY never change. If you had one on your counter for a year, its chemical composition would be unchanged...

Now listen, James, if the Mrs. is going to make YOU whoopie pies, then what are you going to make HER for dinner?

Emily said...

I've never had a whoopie before! Or made them... just because of the shortening issue. So you could use butter? Like, a real buttercream? I think that would taste sooo much better than shortening.

Oooh listen to Rachel... love that Nutella idea. Hmm I'm inspired.

Remember when you sent cupcakes to your daughter? What cupcake place was it? Sprinkles? They had one of those in Chicago. Unfortunately, we were too late and didn't get to go!

Sue said...

Could that be true...that you've never had or made whoopie pies?!!

Yup, just substitute butter for the shortening. The filling won't get as stiff, but you'll be happier.

I think it was Sprinkles and I think she liked them. But, really, I can't imagine NOT liking ANY cupcake. I guess I'm just easy...(about that).

Kyle said...

Those whoopie pies were EXCELLENT. I had the vanilla and it was fantastic. The cake and icing were great. and so was Jennifer! It's a lot of fun to listen to her.

Sue said...

Hi Kyle,

The peanut butter whoopie pies were fantastic too. And you're right about Jennifer. She was so entertaining.