Category Archives: News

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

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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!

Be back soon!!

Written by Courteney
Just a quick non-update: SUPER-sorry I haven’t updated in a very long time. I do have a post ready and waiting to be shared, but work has temporarily taken over my life. I promise I’ll make some time next week to write it all out.  Don’t go away!


Hot News for Whoopie Pies!

written by Becky

A few things have happened lately that I feel it is important to inform you all about in the world of Whoopie Pies:

  • On April 20th (yes over a month ago – sorry for the late update, I know everyone was on the edge of their seat waiting for this info!), Maine passed legislation to making the Whoopie Pie the official State dessert. It is now officially a public law. Read more here
  • A Whoopie Pie maker is now available for sale! This is a device made by Babycakes and it has one review: that it is not adequate for the true whoopie pie lover or maker. I guess I won’t be getting one!
  • The Maine Whoopie Pie Festival is coming up at the end of June. Sadly I won’t be there (I’ll be running a half marathon. As will Courteney – it will be her first! Very exciting.) But this guy will be!
  • Whoopie Pie Wednesdays – the only other blog that I can find that has a section devoted to Whoopie Pies – will be coming to an end this week! This girl (interestingly also named Rebecca and also obsessed with Whoopie pies) took it upon herself to make all of the Whoopie pies (plus some extras) in the Whoopie Pie cookbook that we all love so much for her coworkers every week. Since discovering her blog, I have been enjoying seeing what other people thought of each of the flavours and making notes so that I can improve on the recipes that she tried! Thanks Rebecca! If you read through a flavour that you desperately need to try – let me know! I have no intentions on continuing the tradition here but… actually that would be fun… hmm. Point is to request a flavour if you want!
  • I actually got a second Whoopie Pie book – Whoopies! – which I am just as excited to start baking from! So far I haven’t tried any recipes!
  • Unrelated to Whoopie Pies but still of interest, I have started a second blog – Bex Bakes and Cakes – which will be for all my other baking, besides Whoopie Pies of course. Both blogs now have the recipes indexed (note that this site has two extra pages – one for Whoopie Pie recipes, the other for other baking – while the other blog just has all recipes indexed) so they link to each other.

Whoopie Pie Pans: The Pros and Cons

Written by Courteney

One frequent question that comes up when we talk about whoopie pies is the cookie: how do we make them?  Generally, I tell people there are two choices:  you can spoon/scoop them (using a spoon or a cookie scoop) or you can pipe them (i.e. like icing).  I always go for the scooping option, as (a) I like my cookie scoop, even if it is too big for a whoopie pie, and (b) I don’t have the tips or the piping skills to pipe them.  Becky has piped them once, to my recollection, and they turned out beautifully.

However, there is another option.  A few months ago, Becky sent me a link for whoopie pie pans.  Apparently, someone out there thought, “We have muffin pans, brownie pans, muffin top pans – why not whoopie pie pans?” and a creation was born!

Pros:  Quality control, mass production, efficiency, branding
By providing a standard size for your whoopie pie cakes, you never have to worry about matching sizes to get equal-sized tops and bottoms (something I tend to encounter when scooping/spooning).  This also allows you to streamline your assembly line and mass produce.

I caught an episode of NCIS: LA one night a couple weeks ago.  During the episode, the main cast was tracking a killer who had left a fortune cookie at/near the scene (this was not an integral part of the story, but stay with me here).  Apparently, every fortune cookie is labelled with a tiny microscopic brand that allows you to trace back the fortune cookie to its maker.  Don’t ask me if this is really true or a construct that was created to fit the plot line, but that got me thinking: wouldn’t that be a great way for self-advertisement?  If you could ‘brand’ every one of your whoopie pies with your store name, logo, or url, then you’d have your own edible advertisement of deliciousness!  And, short of actually creating a brand and burning it into each of your whoopies (because, well, burned, ew, duh), what would be the easiest way to accomplish this?  Why, having custom-made whoopie pie pans with your advertisement as a part of your pan, of course!  BRILLIANT!

Cons: May not be any faster, extra washing, builds sides on the cake/cookies, may bake a crust around the pan-sides
A couple issues here.  First, the speed you are able to produce whoopie pies will be limited by the number of pans you have.  Presumably, you won’t have unlimited numbers of pans, so every time you run out, you will have to wash the pans.  This takes time, effort, and water (this is also true if you have unlimited pans, although it wouldn’t impact the rate you put out batches).  Second, scooping and spooning do not really take that much time, so I question if using a pan will really speed up the baking process.  Third, in a pan, you will basically be creating whoopie pies in a cylindrical fashion.  Only you can decide how you feel about edges to your whoopie pies.  Finally, because 2/3 of your edges are in contact with the pan, it is likely you may bake a crust on these sides.  I wonder if this will change the appearance and/or taste of your whoopie pies.

Since I haven’t actually tried these pans, I don’t feel like it would be fair to pass judgement on these pans at this point in time.  I’ll keep this list going, so chime in – what is your opinion on the whoopie pie pan?


Where did all the Whoopie Go?

written by Becky

Red Wine Cupcakes with Blackberry-Reduced Wine Icing

I have a confession, I have been neglecting making Whoopies (I so wanted to write “makin’ Whoopie” without pluralizing it as I knew it would be more amusing but… well I am referring to the cookies and nothing further). There are two reasons for this neglect. First, I have discovered a problem with having a Whoopie Pie blog and it is not running out of things to say about them, as was suggested might happen, but rather I feel like I can’t bake everything else I love to bake. Second, I have been taking a cake decorating course for the past month and so have been force to bake sugar cookies, a cake, cupcakes and then another cake. Even though I do have a sweet tooth, eating Whoopies on top of all of these things is a lot of sugar!

So here is the solution: a new addition to Let’s Make Whoopie – a place for other baking done by Courteney or I!

And since I previously had mentioned the red wine cupcakes in the Guinness Whoopie Pie post, I figured that was a good place to start – I would get to try what sounded like a delicious recipe, and I would make the required cupcakes for my class.

Although I have never heard about these interesting culinary concoctions, I discovered that there are actually several red wine cupcake recipes out there, some have a lot of chocolate, some have a little chocolate, and some have none. Of course the amount of red wine in the recipes differ as well and the frostings vary from a condensed milk glaze to a port wine buttercream to a blackberry wine buttercream to a chocolate ganache frosting. Since I was hoping to be able to taste the wine, I figured I would stay away from the super-chocolatey ones but since chocolate and red wine pair well together to follow a recipe with at least some chocolate. Furthermore, this recipe was shown with the blackberry-wine buttercream and I thought that sounded FANTASTIC. Here is the recipe. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon for both the cupcakes and the icing since it is what I had.

I should add that unlike the beer batter Whoopies, the batter for these were delicious. It was creamy and smooth and so so good. And you can see that they baked up nice as well! Look how much they rose and how perfectly rounded they are! They also smelled good – not really chocolatey or vanilla-y like most baked items but sweet and comforting.

As a sidenote, it occurred to me when I was using my giant “cookie” scoop that I mentioned in the post about size that using the big one meant that one “American Sized” Whoopie Pie is actually equivalent to TWO cupcakes (with less icing of course). That is a lot of Whoopie!

Because my cake decorating class was teaching us how to fill cupcakes as well, I figured that was a good excuse to fill these guys with a chocolate ganache filling. I just did the basic ganache: heat 1/2 cup of whipping cream until it bubbles around the edge then pour that over 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate. Wait about 2-3 minutes and then stir until it is nice and smooth (of course it looks kind of nasty first – like the picture). Oh and then I added about a tablespoon of seedless raspberry jam. I should point out that I originally thought I would do a whipped ganache – basically just whip it after it has cooled in the fridge to add more airiness  – but when I went to pipe this into the middle of the cupcakes it was way too hard so I melted it in the microwave for 15 seconds and it became liquid! Oh well, still piped that way.

So after piping in the filling, it was time to decorate! First a layer of the blackberry – wine frosting (for those interested, I was originally disappointed as I didn’t feel like there was enough flavour to it but then decided I did quite like it) and then some fun decorating. Since we were learning different techniques, I decided to just try them all – hence all the random different types! I kind of like the whimsical look of them! In the end, I liked these cupcakes a lot. The red wine flavour isn’t strong but there is something familiar about it that makes them tasty. The texture is good and moist although somewhat dense. I loved the chocolate ganache filling with it too! So all in all, a success, even if they weren’t Whoopie Pies!

I don’t really know which is my favourite – either the one below (a Shaggy Mum) or the pretty pink icing with the yellow flowers & leaves (I love piping leaves)! It was fun to take them to work to see which one people picked as their cupcake of choice!


Exciting news for Whoopie Pies in Canada!

Written by Becky

Ok, this isn’t going to have a recipe, a picture or anything of that sort but it is exciting!

Two things:

1.) I found Marshmallow Fluff! I really didn’t expect to find it after reading several places that it is difficult to find the “real deal” outside of the Northeastern States but I found it at the first place I looked here in the Lower Mainland! I am excited to now try to make the original, classic Whoopie Pie (with a new chocolate Whoopie pie recipe). I even bought shortening as that is supposed to be part of the true Whoopie Pie. A lot of the recipes seem to ask for half butter and half shortening so what I do is 3/4 butter and 1/4 vegetable oil but I will try the shortening now (bought ALMOST trans-fat free… couldn’t find any that was totally trans-fat free though.)

2.) Starbucks is starting to sell Whoopie Pies! I haven’t seen them yet but apparently they are free for the next three days between 2 & 5 if you buy a specialty drink. I am going to have to try one of them! At first I was a little annoyed as I thought they were stealing my idea (since my big idea is to open a fantastic Whoopie Pie shop – which I will not give away my big ideas for!) but then I just realized it is great marketing for me! This way people will know what Whoopie Pies are and I won’t have to be the one to build up buzz and get people realizing how incredibly fantastic they are! It is great news!

So building on the first note: a recipe and true Whoopie Pie post will have to wait until this weekend. But for now, here is a thought: Whoopie Pies are having the best part of two cupcakes – the tops! We all know that the tops are the best but do you eat them first or last?