Monday, March 30, 2009


The North End was calling on Friday night and R and I ventured into little Italy for carbs…and pastries. While tourists flock to Mike’s Pastry, hidden away just around the corner on Salem Street is Bova’s. Open 24-hours, this patisserie is the answer to late night cravings and massive variety.

The smell of anise catches you at the door and like Pavlov’s dog salivation is almost immediate. The bakery is dived into six glass counters: cookies, savories, deli, classic Italian, and cakes. Click here for a peek.

While the cannoli is always a good choice, calling my name was a Whoopie pie large enough that it needed two full hands.

The Whoopie pie is definitely making a comeback and I don’t need the NY Times to tell me that. I’m not sure if I would have ever tasted the New England treat.

Two round and soft chocolate cakes hug a layer of lightly-whipped vanilla cream flavor. It was so hard to control myself that I spilled crumbs onto my coat… some patches of chocolate and filling even making it to the back tail…I have no idea how this is even possible.

The Times sites that the tough economy is cause for diners to bring back the popularity of the pie/cake. They are a bit of nostalgia and comfort in cake form. I am not one to argue. The recipe for Whoopie pies is universally traced back to the Amish (yea bonnets!), where children were given these treats in lunch bags and would shout “Whoopie!”

New Englanders one-upped the drunkards by adding marshmallow fluff in between the cakes instead of crème…and it became a cult hit.

Bakeries are turning out new fancy flavors like pumpkin pie, banana, or even espresso. But for now I’m satisfied with the leftovers on my coat and classic chocolate.

For those of you not close to heaven (Bova), here is a place that delivers…and a recipe:

Whoopie Pie Recipe:
Time: 1 hour

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup buttermilk

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon sea salt.

1. For the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until light and creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in three parts, alternating with buttermilk, and combining well after each addition.

2. Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, scoop out 12 1/4-cup mounds of batter and place about 6 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before filling.

3. For the buttercream filling: For best results, follow directions carefully, paying attention to required temperatures. Fill bottom half of a double boiler (or a medium saucepan) with an inch or two of water, and bring to a boil over high heat. In top half of double boiler (or a metal bowl), combine egg whites and sugar. Place over simmering water and whisk just until sugar is dissolved and temperature reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

4. Using a whisk attachment on a heavy-duty mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar on high until they double in volume and become thick and shiny. Continue to whisk until cool. Reduce speed to medium and begin to add butter about 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until all the butter is incorporated. Add vanilla and salt. If mixture looks curdled, continue to whisk until it is smooth. Increase speed to high and whisk for 1 more minute. Use immediately or place in an airtight container and chill for up to 3 days, whisking buttercream again before using.

5. For assembly: Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, place 1/4 cup buttercream on flat side of each of 6 cakes, spreading it to edges. Top filled half with another cake to sandwich the buttercream. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or wrap individually and freeze for up to 3 months.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Serious Candy Addiction Rocking Middle Schools

What is happening to kids these days? A Wall Street Journal article published this past weekend reported that middle school children in Frisco, Colorado are smoking Smarties.

That’s right… the little dummies are crushing the small little candy pills into powder and blowing the “Smarties’ dust” out to mimic a smoke cloud.

The article continues to follow other candy misuse. There are videos with instructions on the Web. Some kids go so far as to exhale the powder out their nose.

It gets worse. Oren Friedman of the Mayo Clinic is quoted in the article as saying that it is possible that students can get not only infections in their nose, but maggots! I have no idea how this is possible.

I remember hearing a story once while riding the school bus (this is an important location for collecting the juicy gossip) of a kid in elementary school snorting pixie sticks. I can’t imagine how that would burn. One would think that the citric acid used in Smarties would be a deterrent.

I wonder if this is what it means to really be addicted to candy. Are Smarties a gateway treat to harder substances such as Pop Rocks… or Big League Chew?

Whatever happened to pretending to smoke candy cigarettes?

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Trip to the Tropics

The smell of suntan lotion; soft touch of the tropical breeze in my hair; taste of coconut on my tongue. No I'm not at the beach, but in love with the latest Hershey's Kiss.

I discovered Coconut Creme Hershey's Kisses during my candy hunting round at work (yes, this happens daily). Their shiny blue wrapper called out to me.

Continuing their limited edition line of flavors, Hershey's has answered my prayers and made mini-mounds. I was definitely a fan of the cherry flavored kisses, but now I'd like to add Coconut Creme to my buy recommendations.

The new kisses have a creamy, coconut filling with real coconut bits. Imagine a macaroon melted down into just YUMMY!

I can only imagine one thing making these better... an almond!

Monday, March 9, 2009

It is Girl Scout Cookie Season

As a little girl in pigtails, I was a Brownie…the precursor to a Girl Scout. The little girls working for cookie seller patches have a place in my heart… and let’s be honest a place in my belly.

It is Girl Scout cookie season!

I already tore through the boxes I preordered. Well actually, I blame the boyfriend for eating them.

My favorites are the Thanks-A-Lot™. These polite shortbread cookies are made better with a layer of fudge on the bottom and offer a language lesson. Each cookie reads "Thank You" in English, French, Chinese, Swahili or Spanish. Dunked in a glass of milk, the shortbread soaks up beverage perfectly. I recommend dunking them in coffee— a breakfast favorite.

Despite loving their cookies, I am concerned that the Girl Scouts have an identity issue. They change the names of their products so often, that I have an anxiety attack if I have to pick the cookie without a picture. I want to make sure that the cookie I want is the one I order!

Take for example the Tagalongs®. These are the round chocolate covered cookies with a layer of peanut butter on top of the shortbread base. They are also known as Peanut Butter Patties®.

There is also the Samoas® or Caramel deLites®

or the Do-Si-Dos® formerly the Gauchos or Peanut Butter Sandwich

Do you know the shortbread cookie as a Trefoils?

Really the only consistent cookie name is the Thin Mint!

According to the Girl Scouts, there are two bakeries liscenced to produce cookies, which seems to be the root of the name discrepancy. Depending on what area you are from, one box label may read made for The Little Brownie Bakers another made by the ABC Bakers. I have found no explanation for the two vendor system other than that they serve different parts of the country.

All I know is that I need to order some more boxes.

Nothing Says Easter and Spring Like PEEPS!

I am now a card carrying member of the PEEPS Fan Club. If you are nice, I might share the secret handshake. I am really hoping to get coupons or presents on my birthday.

But I deserve it... as soon as the Valentine’s Day candy was removed from store shelves; I was there to stock up on PEEPS.

How can you say no to these adorable little bunnies and chicks? Especially when they are made of marshmallow goodness and come in such spectacular colors?

Yellow is not only my favorite color, but according to Just Born, is the most popular color (other options include green, red lavender, pink and blue—ick)

The floor of my car is a graveyard for the little chicks. And though it takes six minutes to create just one PEEP, they usually experience a quick death… very human of me, isn’t it?

When growing up in Cincinnati, Fawn Candy spoiled me by selling “aged” PEEPS. The packaging of the eggs, bunnies, chicks and new tulips are sliced to let in air and firm the marshmallows up. You can find them in a wine barrel waiting for you. To speed up the process I just leave them in my car to soak in the New England cold.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Just Born Web site… I highly recommend. The marketing geniuses have embraced the peep-obsessed and offer games, crafts, trivia and recipes including PEEPSicles and PEEPS party dippers.

In addition to the official site, there are more than 200 Web sites dedicated to peeps. Totally understandable! They are cute, friendly and a muse for many artists.