Monthly Archives: February 2012

My almost-shot at being on Recipe to Riches.

I auditioned to be on Recipe to Riches yesterday… for those readers from the States or the Canadians that may not watch the Food Network obsessively like I do, this is a reality show that takes home cook’s recipes and turns them into products to be sold in the largest Canadian grocery store chain. (For more info check out here: http://recipetoriches.ca/about) If you win your category you get $25,000 and if you win the show it is $250,000. Not bad for Canadian TV! (By the way – sorry this is so long to read… but I know some people want some details and this way I don’t have to keep explaining it!)

I originally submitted my Nutella Trifle recipe that some of my friend’s think is my best creation. For the show, you can either pre-register or show up that day as “walk-in”. So I pre-registered the trifle and found out the DAY BEFORE the audition that I was already eliminated from the competition. Apparently there were too many similar desserts. Well I was determined to go anyways so I made my Double Vanilla Chai Spiced Whoopie Pies instead and took them down. (I decided on this recipe because it has been the continuous favourite among my coworkers, which are the people that end up tasting the majority of my Whoopie Pies, and because it is unique and incredibly tasty.) Although it clearly says you cannot submit two recipes, I thought I would at least give it a shot. My plan was to tell them that I had wanted to change the recipe anyways… and submit this one instead.

I realized too that I should have stuck with a Whoopie Pie to submit – it is what I am passionate about and more my type of dessert. I shouldn’t have picked someone else’s favourite dessert – I should have stuck with my own!

I got there around 8:40am with the registration opening at 9am. My friend joined me thankfully as it was a long day of waiting and it was good to have some company. We had no idea what to expect regarding the number of people but since the day before I had been so disappointed, I didn’t want to wake up crazy early for more disappointment. After “checking-in” and receiving my number (I ended up 13th in line – and there were only a total of 36 walk-ins) that was pinned to the back of my shirt similarly to a number for a race, we went to sit in the first waiting room. The room had probably 200 or so people in it –  some of the preregistered with appointments, the walk ins and everyone’s friends and family. This became the holding room and the cheering room. Basically any time anyone would get a finalist golden ticket, they would come in and make us all cheer like crazy for them. It got old quickly.

Those that had pre-registered and were there to meet the judges (i.e. the recipes that they thought were better than mine!) all had assigned times (although I am sure they still had to wait) while us walk-ins had to first wait to meet the director of the show before they decided that our recipes were worth going to the judges. Finally around 12 or so I was taken from the room with 4 other participants to the next holding space – just 5 chairs outside the room where the director was. When it was my turn to see her, she just asked questions about the recipe, Whoopie pies and a little about me. I told her all about the fun facts about Whoopie Pies, including where they originated and what they are etc, as well as about how I love to bake and what I do and some other basic info. She loved the idea of the Whoopie Pies and almost immediately told me I would be going on! (Whohooo!) I told her about this blog of course and she seemed to think I had

Slightly cheesy shot of me and the yellow ticket.

a unique product that the judges would enjoy! So I got the yellow ticket (note: this is different than the coveted golden ticket), which I was told to discretely put in my purse so as not to flaunt it to the other walk-ins that didn’t get a pass on, and was told to go drop off my food. Oh and she did ask if I had applied before (I had to submit a short video before) as she thought I looked familiar. I told her that I had changed my mind about what to submit and she said it was totally fine. (And after talking to the other walk-ins that moved on it turned out there were several that were in the same situation and came anyways – one girl came from Calgary and had already bought the flights etc before finding out she was out.)

Finally we went into the food prep room... more waiting time

From there, I was told I had at least until 2pm to wait to see the judges. So I rotated friends (one was busy in the morning, the other had afternoon plans – it worked out perfectly) and went for lunch. When we got back, it was apparent it would be a long time still. It was fun though to sit and chat about food with other foodies that had some great creations. Oh and there was more cheering… and finally around 4:30 I was moved to the last waiting room. Here is where you get your microphone and prep your food. If it hadn’t been at least another hour and a half before I saw the judges, it might have been fun. There were production crew, camera men, sound guys, food prep chef type people, and the contestants milling about. When I “plated” (really it was just a matter of placing them on the provided plates) the Whoopie Pies a lot of the production crew went on about how great they looked and sounded. One of the chef guys also told me that he loved Whoopie Pies and thought they were a great trend! This maybe got my hopes up a little… it is better to not have high expectations!

A note here: although we had the longest waits as walk-ins (all the appointment people went first), the crew really had the longest day. One woman I was talking to that is normally a culinary instructor had worked until 2:30am setting up the rooms and then had to be back at work at 6am. Apparently the main director guy had not slept at all…

Finally I went in to see the judges. I was told where I would be going when it was time and then blotted by the makeup girl (yes by then my skin was a tad shiny!). The director told me to be confident and excited about my dessert and to make sure I was a big cheerleader for it! Ok, done. I love Whoopie Pies! He also said to not be insulted if they didn’t swallow my food – it is like wine tasting apparently (thankfully they did eat it – I think I would have been insulted even with the warning). So I went in and told them what I had made and then all cut off a small piece to try. The response was sort of mixed. They all liked it but thought that it was too spicy (I should have been a little lighter with the spices – I know I like it spicy but not everyone does – it is like a Chai Latte: I like the ones at Starbucks because they are super spicy but many find them to be too much). The one judge said that she normally doesn’t like Whoopie Pies but she really liked this one. She said I make a very good Whoopie Pie! And then it went sort of negative from there… the biggest criticism was that it was an adult flavour in a child’s treat (although this was the same judge that made the above comment about it being so good). I guess because I didn’t grow up with Whoopie Pies I didn’t really get this (I really should have pointed out that most Canadians wouldn’t think that because most of us have not grown up with them). Another judge pointed out he wasn’t sure about whether to be expecting vanilla or chai based on the name – I told him to just call it a Chai Spiced Whoopie Pie then. The other thing was that although they think Whoopie Pies were the next thing behind cupcakes, they didn’t think it was quite time. They questioned whether it should be a product this fall or one for next spring. (This was sort of silly if you ask me – isn’t it better to be the trend setter rather than the follower?) One also commented that the spice was so heavy it made her think of going to the dentist and tasting cloves (that was a little harsh if you ask me) – the other judges were quick to turn that around to be more positive but still it was said. So then they had the “are you in or out?” conversation… I didn’t quite get whether any were in or out, it was mostly just obvious I wasn’t getting a ticket sadly.

It was still a fun experience though! And I will definitely try again! And here is what I have learned: I should have thought the flavour selection through a little more. As it would be the first commercially available Whoopie Pie in Canada, I should have stuck with a flavour that appeals to a wider audience. That is the goal for next year. I will be there with a Whoopie Pie that will make those judges yell WHOOPIE!! OK they likely will not so I guess I will just hope to be able to walk out singing “I gotta a golden ticket”. I think the key is to have a unique product but not TOO unique as it has to be marketable still.

written by Becky


Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Whoopie Pies

Heart-shaped pans + Strawberries for filling = Valentine's Whoopie Pies

I feel like as a blogger I have a responsibility to make seasonal Whoopie Pies. So since it was Valentine’s Day, I of course should post something even if I am single… Unfortunately, I am not great at posting on time. Sorry about that.

My mom gave me some fun pans that she found at a thrift store for some heart shaped Whoopie Pies so I figured I absolutely had to try them out for V-day. I also had a bag of freeze-dried Strawberries that I thought would be great to use in the filling to mimic a chocolate covered strawberry – something that is often enjoyed on Love-fest day. So with these as inspiration you get a gag-me-I’m-single Valentine’s Whoopie Pie! (Really the day doesn’t bother me at all… check out what I think of it here).

Chocolate Whoopie Pies (from Whoopies!)

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy & light – 3-4 minutes. Add the egg, beat well and then add the vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  4. Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, add the dry mix alternating with the buttermilk to the butter/sugar/egg. Beat after each addition.
  5. Spoon, scoop or pipe the batter onto the baking sheets. Usually I use my 1.5 Tablespoon cookie scoop that makes medium sized whoopies. This time I actually scooped double into the well-greased heart shaped pans.
  6. Bake 10-11 minutes or until they bounce completely back when lightly touched.
  7. Allow to cool a couple minutes on the sheet before removing to a rack to completely cool

    Heart Shaped Whoopies: I split them in half for filling since the were "puffed" on both sides!

Strawberry Filling

  • 1 cup freeze dried strawberries, pulverized with a food processor
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temp
  • 3 cups icing/confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3-5 tsp cream/milk/water
  1. Beat the butter 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the strawberries followed by the sugar half a cup at a time & continue to beat on low. Add the vanilla and cream/milk. Beat on high for 2 minutes after.

    Valentine's Whoopie Pies

Assemble by filling two equally sized Whoopie Pies with 1.5 Tb filling (as much as you used for the batter of the Whoopie). Squish together and refrigerate to allow the filling to firm up a little. (I always keep mine in the fridge until about 1/2-1 hour before serving.) For the heart shaped ones, I actually cut them in half and put the filling in the middle.

written by Becky


A “How-to” for Whoopie Pies

I have been meaning to write this type of post for a while. It seems there are always questions about how to make Whoopie Pies and so I figured I would just write one post to summarize it all.

Here are my main points to keep in mind (I will try to keep them in an order that makes sense with how you make a whoopie pie):

  • You can be as creative as you would like with flavours. Need some inspiration? Check out my post on “What is your flavour?” Let me know if there is a flavour you would like to see on here!
  • When you are mixing, make sure you beat your butter and sugar well. It should get light and fluffy. The texture does change after you start beating it so watch it and you will see what I mean. It will take 3-4 minutes.

    Butter & Sugar: Fluffy & Light!

  • It may not really be absolutely necessary to whisk together your dry ingredients separately but I like to do it to make sure that the baking soda, salt, cocoa etc are evenly mixed and broken up.
  • Parchment paper is the best! But you don’t have to use it! It sure makes for easy clean up and the whoopies NEVER stick!
  • There is no right or wrong size, it is up to you. I like to make mine using my 1.5 Tb cookie scoop but if you like yours to be the size of a hamburger, go ahead and make them with a 1/4 cup of batter! The 1.5 Tb scoop makes them about 2.5 inches in diameter, which seems to be a good size for most people. Check out the sizes in this post. Just remember, for the ones that are quite rich (like the Fudgey Chocolate with Peanut Butter filling ones) it is better to keep them small!
  • As far as how to portion outthe batter, you don’t need to have a cookie scoop like I always suggest. A spoon works perfectly well – scoop with one spoon and push it off with a second spoon. The shapes won’t be as perfect as with a scoop but that is ok! They will taste the same!

    Scooping the Whoopies!

  • You can also pipe the batter instead. Check out these ones! Although there is no picture of the pre-baked whoopies, you can tell by the flower shape that they were piped. This is a great way to control the size of your whoopies but remember that any with softer batter won’t hold their shape (some do though – check out the bottom picture on this post!).
  • Whoopies are really easy to tell when they are baked: to test for ‘doneness’ gently touch the top. It should give a little and then spring back and not leave an indent. If an indent is still there, they aren’t quite done. Leave them for a minute or two more. If they don’t give at all, they are likely over done and I can’t really help you! Just don’t leave the next batch in as long!
  • Allow the whoopies to cool a couple minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack. This lets them set up a little better so that they won’t break as you go to take them off. Make sure that you allow them to  cool completely before you try to fill them.
  • Match up whoopie pies that are approximately the same size and shape to be partners! Your filling will stay put better and they will be more satisfying to eat!
  • The ratio of cookie to fillingshould be about 2:1 – that means that the amount of filling should be equal to one of the cookies. So I like to use my 1.5 Tb scoop for both the batter and the filling. I also like to line up the whoopie pies, with their partners, and add the filling to all of them at once in rows. This is especially useful if you are using two fillings!

    Assembly Line! Caramel on one side, coffee icing on the other!

  • I find piping the filling more rewarding than piping the batter since you know that the shape will remain no matter what! In saying that, I still end up scooping it most of the time. Of course you can just spoon it as well.
  • Make sure you squish the two sides together only slightly – you want them to stick to the filling but you don’t want it oozing everywhere!
  • I always refrigerate my Whoopie Pies after making them. This allows the filling to set and ensures that they will stay together as well as keeping them fresh.
  • At least half an hour (up to an hour or maybe two max?) before serving them I like to take them out of the fridge. This lets the filling soften and the flavours come out more (it seems that the chilled ones have more subtle flavour).
  • Cake batter and whoopie pie batter do differ quite a bit. Cake/cupcake batter is generally much thinner than whoopie pie batter and will spread too much if you try to use it for whoopie pies. I have seen places that suggest that you could use a cake mix and just add 1 1/4 cups of flour to the mix to make whoopie pies so you could likely do that with most cake recipes as well. This can get tricky depending on the recipe though so I suggest instead to start with a Whoopie Pie recipe and alter it to fit the flavour profile you are looking for. Let me know if you have a specific recipe in mind and I’ll see if I can help you out!
  • Need some help with eating? Well check out this post!