My quest to start a whoopie pie stand of my very own in a Chicago farmers market.
When tossing around potential whoopie pie stand names among friends and family, I really like to push my personal favorite: Whoopie! Pies! (said with all of the intensity one can muster for those demanding exclamation points)
But since it seems no one else shares my excitement for that one (yes, I know it would be challenging to keep the excitement up every time you say it, but it’s so fun!), I’ll content myself to morph it into the new heading for what once was the “‘RoonReview.”
After a filling and delicious $22 three-course lunch from Benny’s Chop House for Chicago’s Restaurant Week (by the way, we wholeheartedly recommend Benny’s), my dad, boyfriend and I went totally crazy and picked up a few whoopie pies (don’t worry, we didn’t eat them right away).
I was shocked upon first stepping into Sweet Mandy B’s: it was a Monday afternoon and yet not only were there ten or so customers milling around, but there were almost as many people behind the counter, and they were all busy! You would have thought it was the weekend. The interior of the bakery looks much like their website: a colorful array of desserts displayed among a patchwork of bright pastels. After noting all of the customers and totally being sucked in by the enticing displays, I had my hopes up for their two flavors of whoopie pie.
At first I thought it was kind of strange that they offered a chocolate flavor as well as red velvet , since red velvet is really just chocolate dyed red, but they did taste different. What is most unusual about these whoopies is that they are frosted and sprinkled on top. After trying them, I think that this is an attempt at keeping the cakes moist since the whoopies aren’t individually wrapped. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a very successful attempt.
The chocolate flavor was intense. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dessert that was more demanding of a glass of milk. You don’t just want a glass of milk to go with this whoopie; you need it, and I’m not crazy about that. Not only was it a little dry, it was overly sweet and dense. The vanilla buttercream was grainy and the main culprit behind the tooth-aching sweetness. Luckily there wasn’t too much of it. The sprinkles and frosting on top did improve the experience by adding another flavor and texture, but I don’t think this is something I would eat again.
The red velvet wasn’t much better, though it was less intense. The cake was pretty bland although I did catch just a hint of salt (no thanks), and the cream cheese in the filling and frosting was almost undetectable.
Overall, I’m surprised whoopie pies of this caliber came out of a bakery that seems to be doing so well. I can see why whoopie pies aren’t more prevalent if this is how they’re generally made. I think it’s probably important to individually wrap each pie so the cakes stay moist (nothing worse than dry cake!), and I think I prefer unconventional, lighter fillings instead of heavy, too-sweet icing…things like pudding, pastry cream, and marshmallow fluff. And lots of it.
Stay tuned for my first whoopie experiment (Whoopie! Experiment!), which I’m happy to report was a smashing success.