The constant question of size… it is applied to pretty much every aspect of life but it has yet to be discussed for Whoopie Pies. As I have 3 perfectly sized cookie scoops, I feel like I easily qualify to discuss this matter thoroughly (well not that thoroughly as how much is there really to say? Actually this post is longer than I had anticipated!)
Originally I bought the smallest cookie scoop (one inch) – seemed like a good size for most cookies. Quickly I realized it made cookies better suited to… uh… well those with small appetites for sweets (maybe Courteney sized?). I am rather fond of sweets so I often required more than one (I won’t put in a real number here) portion of these puny treats.
Next came the big daddy of cookie scoops. The two inch diameter of this scoop produced cookies the size that you frequently get at coffee shops or bakeries. Even with my love of cookies, this size cookie were what the Cookie Monster would call a “sometimes food” (cookies should always be in moderation but these giant cookies should really only be consumed after running a marathon). I did realize that this size was ideal for muffins and cupcakes though. Perfectly, evenly sized portions every time!
Finally, I found it – the one-and-a-half-inch scoop. I had to really search for it as I could only find the metal ones in the States but finally I found it. And didn’t buy it. I figured I had enough with two but after not buying it, I realized I really NEEDED it. So I asked a friend going South shortly after I first saw it to pick it up for me. And it really is the perfect size for cookies. I love it and have given it as gifts to several people. Most recently I gave one to my friend as a wedding shower gift (along with a giant cookie sheet). The last time I was at the couple’s house, the newlywed husband was exclaiming that he loved it! Not just for cookies but he used it to perfectly portion the filling for perogies! And my friends and I find it is the perfect size for cake pops too!
Now on to Whoopie Pies – the whole point of this blog!
I did a test run (as can be seen by the pictures!) Before baking, it is really rather difficult to understand the size difference of these scoops and how I can have such strong opinions of the varying size of cookies produced. But after baking, it is a little more apparent.
And once they are assembled, the Whoopie Pie sizes are demonstrated easily. I like to call the little guys “Whoopie Juniors” while the middle size is the regular size (recommendations on names are definitely accepted!) and the monster size ones in my head are either “Man-sized”, “Shareable Size” or “American Sized”. Now I don’t mean the last name as a slam on Americans – I am just pointing out that this is the size that is sold in the States and shown in every picture I have seen of someone eating a Whoopie Pie. These guys are pretty much the size of a smallish hamburger. That is a lot of Whoopie to me! Since the actual size is sort of hard to tell from the pictures (even with a lovely hand model – myself), I will point out that the big-daddy sized Whoopie Pies are nicely modeled by Colin in How to Eat a Whoopie Pie.
For those that know me, you know I love ice cream. The creamy coolness and tasty flavours options make it a delicious treat whether it is hot or cold outside (yes, I have been called crazy for getting ice cream in the middle of winter on cold and wet days). This is why I love Marble Slab Creamery where you can choose your amazing base flavour (or flavours – there is no reason you can’t mix several ice creams in one dish) and then add whatever you want to it – whether that is cookie dough (my personal favourite), skor bar, coconut, raspberries, graham crackers, chocolate chips, etc. It is a phenomenal idea but I don’t understand why it is limited to ice cream. Why not mix and match Whoopie Pie flavours? Pick your cookie, pick your filling, pick something extra (an option in Whoopie pies that have yet to be explored on this blog so far but are self explanatory from the list of suggestions!). (Nobody better steal my million dollar idea!)
So now we come to the fun part! The flavours! These are the ones I have come up with but I would love to hear if someone has any suggestions! First there are “The Whoopie-Cookies”, then there are “The Stuffers” and finally the “Gourmet Indulgences”! I have a list of Specialty combos (things like “Nanaimo bar: Chocolate coconut cookie, custard buttercream filling, chocolate glaze” or “Cinnamon Dulce Latte (my favourite Starbucks drink): snickerdoodle cookie, dulce de leche slather, latte filling, rolled in cinnamon & sugar”) but I think I will save that for another post!
Your job? Well to request what you want obviously! I have already had one request, which will be tried this weekend, turn the well-loved (at my work anyways) Guinness Cupcake with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting into a Whoopie Pie. So this will be attempting two things: aiming to please the “requester” of these Whoopie Pies of course and to perfect the “cupcake-Whoopie Pie” recipe swap! Of course these will make a debut on this blog on Sunday night but for now, the point is just to say – what do you want??
What is your flavour combo that you want to try as a Whoopie Pie?
Aiming to Perfect the Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pie with Marshmallow Fluff Filling in honour of Pi Day! (After making them I realized it isn’t worth perfecting this recipe! Better to just make my own creations!)
To be honest, I had never actually heard about Pi day before – Courteney told me about it and after a moments thought, I realized what she meant: Pi day – Pi as in the “value of the ratio of a circle’s area to the square of its radius” (approximately 3.14159265) – is March 14 (3-14). So I figured this was a great excuse to make Whoopie Pies for a bunch of science “geeks” at work (besides the fact that I had been promising quite few of them that I would bring some in so everyone could try Whoopie Pies!)
I decided on the Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Marshmallow Fluff Filling for two reasons: I wasn’t that happy with the chocolate Whoopie recipe I had tried before (as mentioned in the post about “A Hot Whoopie Pie Creation“) and wanted to try a new one, and because I bought the original Marshmallow Fluff last weekend I wanted to know what the Original Whoopie Pie tasted like! Problem is, there are quite a few recipes out there… so I decided to try two! I know, I have issues – I may be a little indecisive and a bit of a perfectionist!
The first one was from King Arthur’s Flour and although it had decent reviews, it didn’t actually differ that much from the one in the Whoopie Pie book. But it claimed to be true to the original (although other sources say the cookie/cakes are supposed to be made with shortening).
The second recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Cookies cookbook. A similar recipe is found here although it is not identical (I halved the recipe in the book so it was the same size as the one on the website except that the book one has 1/2 TB baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup butter instead of butter + shortening, all white sugar, and buttermilk instead of regular milk).
Based on looks, I would say Martha has the better recipe. Furthermore, the smell of these ones are divine! So much chocolatier! Taste – well, a little disappointing actually. Both are a little crumblier than what I would like. Sort of like a cake’ish-brownie. It isn’t bad, just not quite what I wanted! I was hoping for moist, taste, chocolatey goodness. I shall have to see what my co-workers think but I think I am still looking for the perfect recipe!
So onto the filling! To make the classic, it has to be the Fluff + shortening (check out the recipe/blog from King Arthur’s Flour for more info on this if you really care why!) Again, there are many recipes – some have more fluff, some have more shortening. I went with the recipe in the Whoopie Pie book (jar of Marshmallow Fluff + 1 cup shortening + 1 cup icing sugar + 1 tsp clear vanilla). The texture is quite different from what I am used to for icing, I think it is the Fluff/shortening combo. And the taste is uninspiring: it is sort of just a bland white slightly sugary mixture. Blah.
So yes, overall I am not into the classic recipe. I think it was a good experiment to do but I don’t think I will be buying Fluff again and I will have to keep looking for a great chocolate Whoopie Pie recipe so that I can fill them with tasty things like peanut butter icing!
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:
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
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)
Light and fluffy
Light and fluffy
Heavier; more grainy
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