Whoopie Pie Love
If you had asked me not long ago what a whoopie pie was, I would’ve said—after perhaps a little sideways smile and a chuckle—it’s a dessert featuring two round pieces of cookie-shaped cake with filling in the center. While this description isn’t necessarily wrong, there’s much more behind this scrumptious baked good.
The origin of the whoopie pie reminds me of commonplace small-town discussions about who did what first where there is no consensus. Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and probably even a few other states, have at some point staked claim as the birthplace of the whoopie pie. One shared belief appears to be its connection to the Amish.
Even more lost in legend is how it got its name. One theory has a woman in Maine shouting “whoopie!” after baking extra cake batter on a cookie sheet and seeing it when she removed it from the oven. Another has Amish children shouting “whoopie!” when they opened their lunches to find these treats.
Either way, I’m not sure anyone can argue with the excitement behind making, finding and eating a whoopie pie.
Enter Brittany Newgent, Whoopie creator and owner, to further fuel my excitement. Born and raised in Indiana, Brittany learned about whoopie pies by baking them as a child with her dad’s cousin’s wife, a New Englander. Apparently, it was love at first site and she carried that love into adulthood.
For the past two years, this self-trained baker has found herself in the company of like-situated, burgeoning artisans who learn how to create recipes out of their home kitchens. Once they nail down a recipe to perfection, they often head over to a public kitchen to produce for distribution. Brittany told me it sometimes takes her 10 or more attempts to get one flavor just right.
At first, Brittany baked her whoopie pies for friends and family. Soon came requests to feature her whoopie pies at weddings, showers and other special events. Last November, Brittany’s whoopie pies were part of a Yelp event at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis. She said it was the first time she had been able to watch complete strangers eating her creation and genuinely enjoying it. A few months later, she started her own business and began selling to the public in June.
As to ingredients, there appear to be two camps in the whoopie pie world: butter versus shortening. Brittany finds herself in the butter camp, because, quite simply, she thinks it makes for a better taste.
Then, we talked filling. Brittany’s fillings are mostly buttercream, with an occasional ex-ception. And, we talked about size—whoopie pies can range from petite to gargantuan. Brittany chose to make hers on the smaller side for eating ease and because they are quite dense and rich.
As to flavors, she has created 24 of them and her website lists the ones she makes on a regular basis. The flavors that caught my attention were Banana Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter, Blackout (basically death by chocolate), Mocha and Strawberry Lemonade. Our photographer, Jenny, and I were fortunate to be sent home with Oatmeal Butterscotch, Salted Caramel Pretzel, and Carrot Cake whoopie pies. While I enjoyed each flavor, Jenny and I had watched Brittany mix, bake and assemble the Carrot Cake whoopie pies while we were in her Indianapolis home, and they were superb (recipe follows).
Thanks to Brittany Newgent at Whoopie, Central Indiana can enjoy whoopie pies the way New Englanders and Pennsylvanians have for years. This dessert delights in so many ways—in name, in taste and because they are locally made with love and attention.
If you’re interested in trying Brittany’s delicious whoopie pies, they’re offered regularly at New Day Meadery located at 1102 Prospect St., Indianapolis. To place an order for your next special event, visit WhoopieIndy.com.