Both whoopie pies and red velvet cake are so cutesy and American I thought I’d never make them. Neither are very exciting, being a cakey sandwich cookie and a chocolate cake filled with red food colouring respectively. Like the ubiquitous sawdust-flavoured cupcakes with elaborately coiffed frosting, they are all about appearance rather than taste. Both have been doing the rounds on food blogs for years so despite the fact that I’ve never tasted either before, I was already bored of them. I can be such a disdainful hipster sometimes.
But when you need a cutesy handheld and easily portable cake to give away to customers on Valentine’s Day, they come into their own. Marketing around the second week of February is fraught with condescending gender clichés, heteronormativity and tacky unoriginality. I’m damned if I’m going to try and sell beer by telling men “it’s pink!” as though that’s the direct line to every woman’s heart. Or as though all my customers are straight men with needy infantile girlfriends waiting for them at home. I don’t like to be talked down to or excluded like that so I won’t do it to my customers.
However, I have no problem bribing them with cake. My plan was to get them through the door with the promise of sweet treats, then help them find the perfect boozy romantic gift. Whether that was the perfect wine to go with a steak, prosecco that looks and tastes more expensive than it is, or a beer brewed in the town they got married in. Unfortunately I got trapped in the office doing paperwork for the afternoon, and I have a sneaking suspicion that my coworker ate more than his fair share. Unexpectedly, the few customers I did get to chat to seemed positively suspicious of free food, which baffles me completely. Honestly, what kind of sicko turns down surprise cake on an otherwise routine shopping trip?
These were lovely though. What’s not to like about chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting? They’re very sweet but small enough to not feel sickly. The batter was pretty forgiving, so even though I over baked the cookies slightly and they weren’t as light and fluffy as I’d have liked, I doubt anyone else noticed. I think they also benefited from a night in the fridge, allowing the frosting to soften the cookie and the flavours to meld together a little. My piping skills leave a lot to be desired, but I was still pretty pleased with how these turned out (besides, my husband’s coworkers never complain about getting a box full of deformed rejects). They’re a great crowd pleaser and are far less complicated to make than they look, the only problem is that now I have a bowl of leftover cream cheese frosting. Which I will definitely not eat with a spoon. No sir, not me.