When I was a kid. A kid younger than I am now, I remember loving the Game Show Network. For some reason, old game shows really made m happy, made me want to learn more, and kept me interested. Press Your Luck. The Newlywed Game. Ten thousand dollar Pyramid. The Match Game. Password. Win Ben Stein’s Money. The Price is Right. Card Sharks. It’s all about using your mind and trying to win money and at the same time, make the audience laugh. I would sit on the couch, against my anxious desires to get up and run around and probably break things, and watch these adults laugh with each other as they surely made some snide culturally appropriate comment about sex or art or politics. It might have been the fact that I never knew exactly what they were referring to, or because all of the issues they were talking about in side commentary was never really relevant, but I loved getting sucked into that time period. I loved watching the muted colors dance across the screen and watching people winning seven hundred dollars and jumping up and down because they could buy a vacation for the family now! Or A NEW CAAAAR!
Each show had its own special catch phrase – Higher or lower for Card Sharks, Wammy for press your luck, and Whoopee for the Newlyweds. Even as a little kid, I always knew what they were meaning to say but couldn’t when they casually said “making whoopee.” What exactly was that? The only reference I had were whoopie pies – a Boston snack dessert sweet thing. Go figure I was a food nerd from the start.
And now, with the pastry competition growing (see: cupcakes, macaroons are both huge and the next thing is soon to come out…) bakeries are trying to find that next fad. One of my favorite bakeries – Baked – based out of Charleston and Red Hook, Brooklyn, make the most delicious Whoopie pies. They make whoopie, not whoopee.
The history of whoopie pies is rooted in Boston, but now I associate it with summer snacks around four, when your blood sugar dips just enough for you want to take a nap. They are two cakey-cookies that act as wonder bread around a sweet filling (see: thick custard, icing, jam, what have you). Do you remember those Little Debbie oatmeal sandwich cookies that Paula Dean would love because they are maybe all butter? Yeah, that’s kind of like a whoopie pie.
Maybe it was inspiration from watching the Game Show Network over the holidays, or maybe it was my most recent trip to Baked in Red Hook, but I wanted to make my own. Banana cake-cookies with cream cheese frosting sitting plump in between the two sandwich layers.
With Sam Cooke and Otis Redding serenading me, taking me back to the 1960’s to really get into the feeling of the Newlywed Game, I took a banana bread recipe and tweaked it a bit to give more of a cake consistency and cooked them as cookies, dropping tablespoons of batter on a cookie sheet and baking at 350 for about ten minutes.
The results, accompanied by a smooth cream cheese frosting, were decadent, and indulgent. Much like sitting at home, on a rainy day, and watching episode after episode on the Game Show Network, hoping someone maybe blush and say “making whoopee.”