I did not grow up eating homemade birthday cake. Mint-chocolate chip ice cream cakes from Baskin Robbins were my jam. I loved them and, more to the point, cake-making did not interest either my mother or father. (They put their energy into lawyering, psychotherapy, and grounding me.) My children, however, celebrate each and every birthday with a homemade cake—because I make sweets and treats professionally, but also because I love cake and (for the most part) love making it.
Cupcakes? Not so much. Portioning batter into the paper liners; baking tray after tray; the frosting: I find producing cupcakes at holiday fete or school birthday party scale unbearably tedious.
Enter the whoopie pie. Whoopie pies are essentially cake sandwiches, with a fantastic filling-to-cake ratio. Often, the edge of said filling comes rolled in sprinkles or candy, so there’s that, too. When I started as a kitchen professional, they put me on whoopie pie duty early on, and I’ve loved them ever since. Meanwhile, when you want to engage kids in their own treat creation, these are easy as … well, you know. The batter comes together in a stand mixer, rests briefly on the counter, and is then scooped onto a cookie tray or two. After a lightning-fast bake, you and your assistants fill cooled pies with a good, old-fashioned American buttercream—and by “filled,” I mean you plop some frosting on the underside of one whoopie and top with another.
A final plug comes from my 13-year-old, Jack, who prefers his desserts on the less sugary side, and finds that the whoopie pie does the job on that front. For the record, I am not on the lookout for less sugary desserts, but consider this just one more sign that these are the reprieve our cupcake-saturated culture demands.
Find a recipe for Jessie’s Peppermint Whoopie Pies here.
Jessie Sheehan is a cookbook author, food writer, recipe developer, and baker. She is the author of The Vintage Baker and the co-author of Icebox Cakes (both published by Chronicle Books). She has developed recipes for many cookbooks, besides her own, and has contributed recipes/and or written for Epicurious, Food52, Fine Cooking, TASTE, and Main Street Magazine, among others.