Tag Archives: Random

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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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?


Does Size Matter??

written by Becky

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.

So, does size matter??


Makin’ Whoopee

Written by Courteney

When we were debating the name of our blog, our future taste-tester Patty was a firm supporter of “Let’s Make Whoopie” … mainly because “Makin’ Whoopee” is the name of a jazz song!  According to Wikipedia:

“Makin’ Whoopee!” is a jazz/blues song, first popularized by Eddie Cantor in the 1928 musical Whoopee!. Walter Donaldson wrote the music and Gus Kahn the lyrics for the song as well as for the entire musical.
The title is a euphemism for sexual intimacy, and the song itself is a “dire warning”, largely to men, about the “trap” of marriage. “Makin’ Whoopee” begins with the celebration of a wedding, honeymoon and marital bliss, but moves on to babies and responsibilities, and ultimately on to affairs and possible divorce, ending with a judge’s advice.

The song has been covered many times by many different people (Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Elvis Costello and Diana Krall, among others).  Thanks to the miracle of Youtube, you can see it here:


What is your flavour?

written by Becky

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?

The Whoopie Cookies The Stuffers Gourmet Indulgences
Classic Chocolate Fluffy Vanilla Cream Roll-ins
Fudgy-Brownie Chocolate Marshmallow Toasted Coconut
White Chocolate Dark Chocolate Chocolate Sprinkles
Marble Milk Chocolate Colourful Sprinkles
Chocolate Chip White Chocolate Cinnamon sugar
Double Vanilla Chocolate Ganache Toasted Almonds
Red Velvet Cream Cheese Crushed mints
Gingerbread Maple Cream Cheese mini chocolate chips
Spiced Pumpkin Spiced Cream Cheese Skor bar
Carrot Cake Lemon Cream Cheese Mini M&Ms
Mocha Tiramisu Chopped Peanuts
Coffee Peanut Butter
Almond Strawberry Cream Bonuses
Coconut Cinnamon (add with a stuffer)
Pistachio-Cardamom Red Hot Cinnamon Raspberry Jam
Oatmeal Raisin Chai-spiced Lemon Curd
Peanut Butter Peppermint Salted Caramel
Brown Sugar-Caramel Mocha Nutella
Snickerdoodle Latte Dulce de Leche
Lemon Salted Caramel
Lime Coconut Extras
Strawberry Toffee Crunch Chocolate Glaze
Mango Hazelnut Cream Caramel Glaze
Banana Banana Cream Chocolate Dipped!
Graham Cracker Kahlua cream
Chocolate Malt Baileys
Sweet Potato Ginger Custard buttercream
Caramel Apple Maple Bacon
Zucchini Spice Eggnog
Skor Bar
Chocolate Coconut
Maple
Chocolate Hazelnut
Eggnog
Amaretto
Guinness Chocolate

How to Eat a Whoopie Pie: A Public Service

Written by Courteney

Seeing as not a lot of people out there know what a whoopie pie is, we here at Let’s Make Whoopie…Pie thought we would provide a public service in the form of a whoopie pie-eating primer.

Special thanks to one of our wonderful whoopie pie tester and whoopie-pie model, Colin, whoopie pie tester and photographer Victoria, and to our chief baker Becky for the whoopie pie!

How to Eat a Whoopie Pie

In Six Easy Steps

Step 1: Obtain the Whoopie Pie

 

“Wow! A GIANT whoopie pie just appeared in my hand! This is incredible!”

As you can see, the first step to eating a whoopie pie is obtaining one.  As you can see, Becky graciously provided a GIANT-sized whoopie pie that is almost the size of Colin’s hand.  The obtaining step is also an excellent time to admire the whoopie pie.  Note the size, shape, symmetry, colouring, and cookie-to-icing ratio in anticipation of the taste.

Step 2: Take the First Bite of the Whoopie Pie

"OMFG! This is AMAZING!!"

Unfortunately, Colin was so enamoured with his whoopie pie, we didn’t manage to capture the actual first bite.  We do, however, have Colin’s incredible reaction to said first bite.  I think the face says it all: it was so much better than anything he imagined!

Step 3: Savour the First Bite of the Whoopie Pie (Optional)

"Yum! I like this tasty treat!"

As stated in above, this step is optional. If the whoopie pie is full of ridiculous deliciousness, feel free to skip this step and move on to Step 4.

Step 4: Eat the Whoopie Pie

"Stop taking pictures and let me eat! I'm ignoring you now"

At this point, I think Colin just went for it.  Clearly, the man wanted to enjoy his whoopie pie.  I don’t really think this step requires instructions.  The ‘bite, chew (optional but recommended in order to appreciate the flavour of the whoopie pie), swallow, repeat’ is a pretty well-ingrained habit in most people.  Colin kind of looks like he loved the whoopie pie so much he just wants to fill his mouth with the yumminess.  To me, that feels like high praise.  Success!

Step 5: Evaluate the Whoopie Pie

Clearly, Colin approves.

Take a minute to evaluate the taste of the cookie, the icing, and the combination of flavours.  Rate the texture and moist-ness of the cookie.  Pass judgement on the whoopie pie.  As you can see, Colin approves.  Clearly.  With a little bit of crazy-eye.  If he starts whispering about his “Precious”, we might have to stage an intervention.

Step 6: Enjoy the Whoopie Pie

*Nomnomnom*

Just enjoy.