Casual Friday: Move Over Cupcake, It’s Time for Whoopie Pie

whoopie pie milk

If you're up on your current events, then you probably know about the recent bill proposed in the Maine state legislature: LD-71 "An Act to Designate the Whoopie Pie as the State Dessert”. Finally! A political issue we can all believe in. If you're unfamiliar with the Whoopie Pie, Wikipedia defines it as  "an American baked good that may be considered either a cookie, pie, or cake. It is made of two round mound-shaped pieces of chocolate cake, or sometimes pumpkin cake, with a sweet, creamy filling or frosting sandwiched between them."

Now you could venture out to your local bakery in search of Whoopie Pies, but if you're feeling ambitious, there are plenty of great recipes out there. The classic is chocolate cake with a vanilla center and this recipe from Gourmet looks pretty darn near-perfect. Baking skills not up to par? This one uses a mix and I bet you won't get any complaints.

The Business of Girl Scout Cookies


The Girl Scouts started selling cookies to fund their troop activities way back in 1917. These budding entrepreneurs made them at home and sold them by the dozen for just 25¢ - now a box can run you $4. It's true that Girl Scout cookies are big business, according to the WSJ, the girls made $714 million last year. The sales had been declining, so this year the varieties have been pared down to increase their profits. Don't worry though, the best-selling Thin Mints will still be available (they want more profit, not a riot!). You can't buy cookies online, but don't fret if you don't have a supplier. Just enter your zip code in the Cookie Finder. And don't feel guilty about all those boxes, you are doing a good thing. 70% of the purchase of each box stays in the local Girl Scout council.

Here's how the overall sales stack up:

    25% Thin Mints 19% Samoas®/Caramel deLites® 13% Peanut Butter Patties®/Tagalongs® 11% Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos® 9% Shortbread/Trefoils

The other varieties combined account for the remaining 23%.

For more information on the Girl Scout cookies and their history, check out the Girl Scout site.

Casual Friday: Happening Happy Hour Cocktails


Headed out to happy hour tonight? Then you must try the hippest thing at the bar right now, the barrel aged cocktail. It is just what it sounds like. Take a classic cocktail and age it like wine for 4-6 weeks.  Why you ask?  Mixologists swear that by aging the cocktails in wood barrels it melds the flavors together creating a smoother drink. These aged cocktails are comprised of only alcohol, like the Manhattan, Negroni, and Martini. Last month, Robert Simonson wrote a New York Times article about the trend and his own experiment at home.  If you are that brave, check out Jeffrey Morgenthaler's Bar Bandits blog which includes recipes. I think I'll leave it to the experts. Here are a few spots known for their barrel aged specialties. Cheers!

This video features the owners of Aviary in Chicago testing their barrel aged creations:

Professional Association Spotlight: National Confectioners Association


Professional associations can be a great source of free information when you're doing business research. And nearly every industry or occupation you can think of has an association. Today we're taking a look at the National Confectioners Association.  See? Business research is fun! Candy is serious business and on the NCA's site you can find out all kinds of information including retails sales figures, seasonal sales figures and annual reports from the industry. While some information is only available to association members, several of the summaries are free, as are the annual NCA Confectionery Industry Reviews back to 2002. Here are just a few of the facts I found freely available on their site:

  • In 2009, Confectionery sales were $29.3 billion with chocolate candy representing about 58% of this total at $16.9 billion.
  • Cocoa prices are at an historic high--one ton of cocoa will cost you around $3500; up from $1500 in 2005.
  • The average U.S. consumer spent $93 on confectionery products in 2008.
  • Halloween leads all other holidays in candy sales--over $2 billion spent annually.
  • When eating candy canes, boys were almost twice as likely to crunch their candy canes than girls (31 percent v. 17 percent).
  • More than 150 million chocolate Santas will be made for the winter holiday season.

They also have the Confectioner and  Snack Source Book where you'll find resources for candy, packaging, services and ingredients.  Looking for a specific candy? Try the Online Candy Catalog. Sadly, still no Kinder Surprise available in the U.S.

In addition to all this great information, they've also got a recipe page.

Know about an association that's been helpful to you? Tell us about it in the comments.

Hershey's S'More Cookie Bars

Author: Hershey's

S'More Cookie Bars Ingredients: 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened 3/4 cup sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bars 1 cup marshmallow creme

Instructions: 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Press half of dough into prepared pan.

3. Arrange chocolate bars over dough, breaking as needed to fit. Spread with marshmallow creme. Scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallow; carefully press to form a layer.

4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. 16 bars.