Saturday, August 11, 2012

Unnecessary Baking Products

Lately, whenever I walk the aisles of my local craft store, I realize two things: 1) Everyone and their grandmother is getting into cake decorating, and 2) Companies are making BIG bucks trying to sell bakers and cake decorators completely unnecessary products. Any task you can imagine doing in the kitchen has its own special tool these days, instead of cooks having just a handful of multi-purpose tools.

Once in a while, those single-use gadgets can be pretty clever and useful. But more often than not, that special pan or ultra-specific tool is just a waste of money. In some cases it even goes further than that - the special pan actually makes a WORSE product. Hence, the latest item on my Roll-of-the-eyes list: The Whoopie Pie pan. This pan looks like a cookie sheet with circular indentations in it (See the Wilton version here: HERE).

First of all, why do we need to complicate the Whoopie Pie? It is so easy and delicious the way it is, no special equipment needed. Just take a cookie sheet, spoon on your batter (or use an ice cream scooper - a tool that can be used for more than one task). This means that the batter must be thicker than your average cake batter so it holds its shape without spreading. Bake them and Voila! You have little cakes that are perfect for sandwiching with a billowy filling - Domed on top and totally flat on the underside (I don't like to call them cookies, because, well, it's NOT a cookie).

Secondly, these new-fangled things just look weird to me. The trend of using those unnecessary pans is leading to some strange looking Whoopie Pies. Instead of being a simple half moon kind of shape, the sides of the whoopie pies are strangely flat and slanted outward before doming up. I can't post a picture here because I've never made these oddly shaped things and probably can't get permission to make fun of someone else's picture (alas). But here is a picture of my own traditional, no-frills whoopie pies. I LOVE this recipe (which you can find in the recipe section). It was adapted from something I found on Epicurious:

I will say that one popular bakery in our area that ONLY makes Whoopie Pies uses these silly pans, and the first time I saw their product I thought to myself, "How can they make nothing but Whoopie Pies when they obviously don't know what a real one is?!" Okay, maybe that was a bit harsh of me. I'll just take my foot out of my mouth and fill it with a whoopie pie now.

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