In matters of food, I rarely discriminate, especially if that food involves sugar. But the first time I heard the whisper that whoopie pies would be the “next big thing” in baking, I did a double take.
Imagine thick buttercream sandwiched between two cakey cookie mounds about 3 inches wide. While there are a variety of combinations, the traditional pie involves chocolate cookies and vanilla cream.
That’s it. Unlike dessert trend contemporaries, think cupcakes, most whoopie pies have no sprinkles or intricate frosting designs. These humble desserts keep it simple.
The origin of whoopie pies is a point of debate. Some say they started in Maine more than 90 years ago, while others believe the Amish lay claim to first creating the pies. Wherever they came from, over the past few years they have slowly been making their way from Little Debbie snack cakes to the national baking scene, and I just have one question: Why?
While I don’t understand the fascination, I’ll be the first to admit I have limited experience with the pies. The only one I’ve ever tried was a red velvet one from a well-known coffeehouse. It was sticky yet dry, while strangely heavy for something so small. And as for its look, I’m still partial to the embellishment of cupcakes. Give me that frosting, baby!
Clearly, I’m biased, so in fairness to the whoopie, an expert was enlisted. I asked Roxy Rubell, founder and owner of Los Angeles-based online bakery Baking Whoopie, to weigh in on what makes this dessert special.
“They’re a perfect balance of cake and filling and the flavor combinations are endless,” Rubell said. “That said, I think they’re way cooler than the cupcake. There’s a history behind them and the name is, well, just fun.”
The story around the pie’s name is pretty adorable. Amish legend says whenever children discovered one of these desserts in their school lunches, they would cry out, “Whoopie!”
Yet, I’m still haunted by that one terrible pie I tried. In the hopes of finally seeing the whoopie light, I asked Rubell what suggestion she has for skeptics who don’t understand the appeal.
“Offer them a whoopie pie that features one of their favorite flavors; red velvet, peanut butter, Meyer lemon, the classic,” she said. “There’s someone’s favorite flavor in there somewhere.”
So it’s settled. If I’m ever going to jump on this bandwagon, I’ll have to give it another go with a flavor that’s right for me. I’m off to find a freshly made whoopie pie that tastes like Funfetti® cake batter – in the name of research, of course.