Making whoopee

Or should we say, Whoopee Pie, the newest big bakery trend, according to a recent New York Times article. Small, portable, personal-sized and whimsical, just saying it puts a smile on your face.

“The economy may have something to do with Whoopie Pie popularity: like candy bars and cupcakes, they are an inexpensive way to indulge ourselves, sweeten our day, maybe even help us escape into that safe childhood- memory zone of comfort food,” says Jeannette Ferrary, one of our favorite food writers and Whoopee Pie aficionado.

Studies show that 73 percent of consumers admit to indulging themselves weekly, even more admit to paying extra for such treats, and restaurants report that dessert sales are up when mini-desserts like Whoopie Pies are on the menu. “Because of their unfussy, homey appearance, Whoopie Pies seem less of a dietary threat than thickly frosted cupcakes; folksy, user-friendly and humble looking, they appeal as real food for real people,” says Ferrary. In fact, Sonoma-Williams refer to Whoopee Pies in their catalog as “pure edible nostalgia.” They’re featured on YouTube, Facebook and at the tips of Twittering fingers of all ages. 

Ferrary says a Whoopie Pie is like a sandwich, made with two cookies or cakes holding a sweet filling. “Food historians say they originated in Pennsylvania baked by Amish women and packed into their farmer husband’s lunchboxes,” she explains. “Supposedly the delighted husbands shouted ‘whoopie’ when they found them at lunch time. Considered a special treat because they were originally made from leftover batter, they can be commonly found even at roadside farm stands in Lancaster County. They are also a New England phenomenon where some claim that they were weaned on Whoopie Pies.”

Whoopie Pies can be made from chocolate batter, yellow or white cake mix, cookie dough, cupcake batter, and even muffin mix. The batter is deposited onto prepared sheet pans in more or less even circles, and baked. The dome-shaped cakes can be any size, from a few inches to standard pie-size. Slather the flat side with filling, and top with a second baked circle, like a sandwich. Some construct the pieces while the cake is warm so the filling spreads. Others prefer to allow the cake to cool after baking and then pile on the filling.

The variety of fillings used is infinite. A thick layer of marshmallow fluff is a popular foundation. Some combine marshmallow with vegetable shortening, or white frosting, cream cheese, and even butter. Lower-calorie styles use low-fat yogurt or whipped egg whites.

“I use lots of lush blueberries in the filling and for a variation -- Blueberry-Double-Whammy-Whoopie -- add blueberries to the dough batter,” she adds.