Makin’ Whoopie

The whoopie pie is definitely a regional treat, as pockets of the country from New England to Ohio are well aware of the black-and-white snack. The rest of the country, however, is only now starting to discover this cake-like cookie.

Specialty shops and high-end grocers, having recently made room for cupcakes, are starting to stock the treats. Even Williams-Sonoma has made room for the whoopie pie in its February catalog, though the name has been altered to “sweetie pies.” At $49 a dozen, the heart-shaped pies are baked in Maine with butter and organic eggs. However, traditional round forms can be found in Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods in Manhattan and as far away as Evanston, Ill. While such may be the traditional form, the New York Times finds dozens of variations on the shape, flavors and fillings, beyond the classic two round mounds of chocolate cake (about three inches across) with a filling of French vanilla cream.

In fact, the processed food industry already has several examples of the treat: Oreo Cakesters, Suzy Q from Hostess and a number of Little Debbie snacks. 

Beginning to the End
While it may not be what nutrition experts have in mind when recommending people eat breakfast every day, many foods traditionally associated with breakfast are finding their way to other dayparts. In Napa Valley, for instance, French Laundry began offering cinnamon-sugar doughnuts served with cappuccino semifreddo in 1994, and, as the New York Times notes, other top kitchens have followed suit--at first with doughnuts, but then incorporating various aspects of the breakfast menu--to the point that now pastry chefs are innovating with bacon, pancakes and even cornflakes.

The Times notes Momofuku restaurants in the city’s East Village have even taken an upscale dessert and added a breakfast staple. Pastry chef Christina Tosi’s panna cotta features milk with the flavor of the bottom of a cereal bowl, and she is experimenting with other sugar cereals, most notably soft-serve ice creams flavored with Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Krispies, Corn Pops, Lucky Charms and Cap’n Crunch. She has found rice-based cereals offer a better texture, but she is also working on a pancake cake: stacked pancakes separated by cinnamon-bacon, maple syrup and brown butter fillings.

Chef Tosi is just one example of the trend, however, as numerous fine restaurants are finding uses for breakfast flavors during other parts of the day. Corton in New York, Moto in Chicago and the General Greene in Brooklyn all have incorporated every breakfast staple--from flapjacks to French toast to doughnuts (including a soup application).pf