Whoopie Pies in the Limelight

Whoopie Pies Took the Cake

I had never heard of Whoopie Pies before I moved to Maine in the early 1990s. But now I’m used to seeing them at the supermarket, not to mention next to the cash register at nearly every convenience store or gas station I’ve ever entered here.

I forgot that this ubiquitous snack is pretty much a Maine thing (and a Pennsylvania thing, it turns out). Not any more, according to the New York Times, Whoopie Pies are having their day. Whoopie Pies are joining fancy cupcakes in the cases at high-end bakeries, they’re even in the Williams-Sonoma catalog (those are heart-shaped, baked in Maine and called Sweetie Pies).

The Times includes a recipe for Whoopie Pies, adapted from Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Michigan, for those of you not lucky enough to trip over Whoopie Pies every day. If you live in Ann Arbor, Zingerman’s has a teaching bakery with all kinds of classes, including one that covers Whoopie Pies.

My daughter loves Whoopie Pies. Me? Not so much – too much filling. And too often that filling is reminiscent of grocery store cake frosting or Oreo “white stuff.”  But some Whoopie Pies have a buttercreamier filling.  A few years ago – before I started learning to bake – I used a pile of Whoopie Pies as a birthday cake that was happily devoured by all the guests. (And was so easy to serve!) You can see the reaction in the photo. This year’s Twilight Cake was probably a bigger hit (not to mention about 199 times more work), but back when there were 9 candles instead of 12 on my girl’s cake, Twilight-mania had not yet taken hold.

The photo that tops the Times article shows Whoopie Pies with beautifully piped filling – the filling looks like a decorative cord peeping out the sides. But, as the photo above proves, real Maine Whoopie Pies are assembled with much less attention to aesthetics.

I’m putting Whoopie Pies on my “might try baking those some day” list. But when they’re so easy to grab when I buy gas, gum or lottery tickets (Note to self: you must start buying Megabucks tickets. No point in fantasizing about spending the jackpot when you don’t have a ticket.) I’m not really motivated. I doubt my kid would like mine any better than the $1.50 corner store version. And, as I’ve mentioned, life is too short to bake things you don’t like to eat.

But if you are not lucky enough to live here in Maine (amazing what above-zero temps will do to my attitude) bake some yourself. Especially if you’ve got a sweet tooth or a kid to share them with.

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