Some desserts that don’t require a fork and saucer, just your hands.
Cousins Ethne Barlin and Stanley Tan make Whoopie Pies. Unless you’ve been widely exposed to American regional sweets, especially those from New England and Pennsylvania’s Amish country, this hand-y confection needs a little introduction.
A whoopie pie consists of two cake-like cookies sandwiching a marshmallow-like filling. The most common variant is chocolate – think devil’s food cake ensconcing white frosting. The cookie was invented in the 1920s and although its origins are unclear, it’s suggested that the dough did evolve from leftover cake batter dropped into rounds. The name came about supposedly because “Whoopie! Pies!” As for why it’s called a pie when it’s obviously a cookie, it’s probably because of the cookies’ striking resemblance to Boston cream pie, which most dessert lovers know is really a cake.
Whoopie pies have crossed the continental divide and landed in the Philippines by way of Ethne and Stan. They’ve been offering the sweet since just this past July peddling them at various bazaars. Wanting to embark on a food business that wasn’t already selling cupcakes and other more common pastries, they took a chance on whoopie pies. “Stan remembered the whoopie pies they sold in an American Store in Taiwan. So, we explored and started experimenting in our “lab,” and came out with six flavors we were confident with,” states Ethne.
Those six flavors now make a full dozen, appealing combinations that are familiar and encouraging to a market just being introduced to these confections. There’s my favorite, the Classic “Big Fat Oreo,” the traditional chocolate cookie-cream cheese smear; followed by the Oatmeal Peanut Butter with an oatmeal-peanut butter-cream cheese filling; and the Red Velvet with Cream Cheese. I like these variants best followed by the Pumpkin Spice, evocative of this time of year and enclosing a slightly spicy cream cheese filling. For those with more current taste persuasions, consider the Wintermelon Milk Tea whoopie pie, a combination of vanilla cookies and a smooth wintermelon milk tea spread.
Though Ethne tells me that some people confuse their whoopie pies with macarons, these two cookies are very different. Think of a whoopie pie as a portable cake, something to be eaten out of hand, with the frosting on the inside instead of outside. It’s a slightly sticky cake: I hold it and crumbs cling to my fingers; I take a bite and bits hug the roof of my mouth. But these whoopie pies are fun, with carefully conceived flavors and textures. And really, any excuse to eat dessert with my hands is reason enough for me to eat a whoopie pie.
Ethne Barlin and Stanley Tan of My Cookie Lab
Whoopie Pies: P50 each.
0906 266.0276 / 0943 645.2929
On Facebook: mycookielab
A Straightforward Butterscotch Bar
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m quite the snob when it comes to dessert and a few other things but I’ve got my supermarket favorites too. One of my new discoveries is a brand called Pinky’s Goodies. It’s a brand that Pinky Anonuevo grew from her home thirty years ago and branched out on a massive scale.
The stars of this eponymous business are the butterscotch bars, six variants in all. After constant nibbling and comparing, they all start to taste the same so I keep it simple – I prefer the original Butterscotch, nicely moist with overtones of brown sugar mellowed out with butter, and the Green Mango Butterscotch Bar (below). Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch but the unripe fruit is more of a suggestion here in the form of a slight tartness and sweetness. The bars are sold at Landmark, Makati Supermarket, and some pasalubong stores. They make good quick gifts and I like the added plus of the nutritional info on the packaging.
Pinky’s has a bakeshop along El Grande in Parañaque that sells some items not available commercially. I like the butterscotch chips. An offshoot of the butterscotch bars, these remind me of lengua de gato. Paper-thin so as to almost allow light to pass through, these are crisp and satisfyingly buttery. Quite dangerous to have around really, since I keep popping them into my mouth. They practically dissolve on contact.
I’m always on the lookout for biscotti too. Most of the ones I see are way too soft, definitely not the dunk and dip sort that these cookies are supposed to be. While I wish Pinky’s biscotti (Cranberry & Walnut, Double Chocolate with Almonds) were thicker, hers are sufficiently hard enough to withstand a quick drop into my hot coffee. Once in the mouth, they crunch in complaint and then disintegrate, leaving behind a lingering sweetness. They’re beautifully packaged too and are good for giving this Christmas.
Check the website for more products not mentioned in this piece.
Store at 361 El Grande Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City
02 703.3266 / 02 829.9130