Tops or Bottoms? The Argument for Whoopie Pies

In case you’re confused, I realised this morning that the last post had nothing to do with whoopie pies.  I did originally intend to lead the post into whoopie pie territory, but the entry was getting ridiculously long and in my sleep-wanting state, I just forgot.  To rectify that oversight, I have broken up the original post into two – one is my long pre-amble about blogging (which is…kind of…about whoopie pies…the site…) and this one, which will be the entry as originally envisioned.  Apologies for the length. -C

Written by Courteney

Becky and I have a lot in common, as all friends do.  We also have a lot of differences.  And we often spend our lunch hours/coffee breaks discussing these differences ad nauseum.  One of these differences is how we eat muffins.

I think most of the world would be in agreement when I state that the top of a muffin is the best part.  I mean, who wouldn’t agree?  It’s got that delicious crusty part that was exposed to the oven that gives it a beautiful colour and texture, and really, the parts that stretch out over the side are just so fun and clean to break off and pop in your mouth.  The bottom?  It’s kind of  blah.  I mean, it’s good and all.  But it’s all the same texture, and it’s so messy to eat!  After all, why do you think Safeway sells muffin tops alone, but not muffin bottoms?

But here’s the question: When you eat a muffin, do you eat the top or the bottom first?

Me, I eat the top first. Why?  Because it’s the best!  I don’t want to wait even longer just eat the top.  I want my taste buds and mouth to experience the very best part first, before they’ve become desensitised to the taste of the muffin.  This way, I can fully enjoy the best that the muffin has to offer.  Anyways, it’s always the bottom of the muffin that comes wrapped, while it’s the muffin top that is exposed at the top.  Why?  Because you always want to present yourself with your best foot/side forward.  It’s the side of you that you want the world to see and judge you by.  It’s like how Mariah Carey demands that she only be photographed from one side – it’s her ‘best’ side, so that’s the only side she wants the public to see.  And if that’s the side that a muffin wants to showcase, I think that I should consider its best offering before judging the baked good on its merits.

Or you could just say that I lack the impulse control to wait until I finish the bottom before I eat the top.  I don’t want to expend time and effort to unwrap the muffin, turn it over, and break the top and bottom apart before I get my first bite.   A psychologist might suggest that says a lot about me and my personality.

How do you eat your muffins?


Cupcakes, however, are a different story.  Although they may appear very similar to muffins, cupcakes are more similar to cakes and other sweet desserts in terms of taste and components.  Let me explain:

Cakes Cupcakes Muffins
Shape
  • May contain more than one layer
  • Layers tend to be equal in thickness and uniform in appearance
  • Definite distinction between top and bottom
  • Definite distinction between top and bottom
Surface Decorations
  • Often topped by sweet icing that complements the cake
  • Often topped by sweet icing that complements the cake
  • No icing; sometime stopped by a nut, raisin, or fruit (mainly for decorative purposes)
Consistency
  • Light and fluffy
  • Light and fluffy
  • Heavier; more grainy
Taste
  • Sweet!
  • Sweet!
  • May be fruit-sweet or savoury
Course/Meal of consumption
  • Snack or dessert (dinner)
  • Snack or dessert (dinner)
  • Breakfast or snack

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  As a consequence to cupcakes’ increased similarity to cakes, when eating such a treat, one runs into the problem of the icing.

Don’t get me wrong, icing is a great thing.  When well thought-out, icing can be a wonderful companion to the cake or cupcake you make.  It has the ability to both enhance and provide an interesting contrast to your cake flavour and opens a whole new world of taste sensations.  On a cake, it’s perfect.  You have a layer of icing on the top, and maybe a thin strip between layers, but overall, the ratio of cake:icing is on the higher side.  This works well, as the icing is not supposed to be the lead actor/actress – that’s the cake’s role.  The icing is like the supporting character – extremely important to the tone and look of the production and plot, able to be a break-out on its own, but not the centre of the action.  Cupcakes, however, tend to skew this ratio – smaller surface area and volume of cake, but just as much icing.  As a result, cupcakes you buy commercially tend to have a very thick and high layer of icing.  This poses a problem when actually consuming the dessert.  If you approach the cupcake from the top, you end up with a face full of icing with little or cake, and you lose the unique combination of flavours that is supposed to be afforded by the cake and icing combination.  Plus, you end up eating the bottom cake part alone, without the icing – not fun and also not the point.  If you eat the cupcake from the bottom, you have the reverse problem – too much sweet flavoured airiness at the end with no solid cake to spread it on.  You can also attempt to approach the cupcake in a purely horizontal manner.  However, with the way icing is piled on…you’ll need a big mouth to accomplish that.

Now, that I’ve laid out the models, let’s get back to whoopie pies.  As Becky has previously pointed out, whoopie pies are really the best of both worlds.  First off: it’s a cake-y cookie.  Taste and consistency of a cake, but shaped like a cookie and with a little more substance to hold it together well.  Point.

Second, it’s got icing.  Icing is sweet and it’s great fun experimenting with the different combinations of icings that can go with the different cakes.  Options for delicious creativity – Point.

Third:  Because the cake part of the whoopie pie is made like a cookie, you get the nice round crusty edges (like on a muffin top)…but without the boring bottom!  It’s like 2 muffin tops sandwiching a layer of icing – best of both worlds!  Point!

Furthermore, a whoopie pie is symmetrical in every way.  It’s round, and the top and bottom are identical…so which side is the top and which is the bottom?  Both and neither!  This has the additional benefit that if you drop your whoopie pie (perish the thought!), you can easily pick it up and resume eating it without having to go to the trouble of rotating your food so it is once again in the correct orientation.  (I’m only being half-sarcastic here – if it were a cupcake and you tried to eat it upside-down, you’d be in danger of losing all of the icing due to gravity.  Because the whoopie pie is like a sandwich, though, you can easily grasp both the top and bottom without unduly dirtying your fingers – bonus!)

Finally, it comes back to the cake:icing ratio.  By turning the icing into a layer, as opposed to a topping, a whoopie pie drastically scales back the amount of icing in order to restore a proper cake-like ratio between the two components.  This is helped by the addition of a bottom cake layer to shore up the cake:icing ratio.  This ratio restoration allows just enough icing to provide some flavour and texture without drowning out the cake  – game and match!

Ok so I think Courteney is missing the point of eating. You always save the BEST-TILL-LAST!! So by eating the muffin top first, you are left with the not-so-delicious bottom at the end. The poll should really not read as “Tops First”, “Bottoms” first etc etc but rather “Tops First” or “Tops Last”. I am of course one of the tops last type! I can wait to enjoy my favourite part and would rather be left with that as the memory of the muffin! Becky

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