Summer Whoopie Pie Series: Taste of Belgium

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Occupying a bustling corner in Cincinnati’s resurgent Over-the-Rhine neighborhood a charming restaurant cranks out gourmet waffles, but also something more commonly associated with the Amish: whoopie pies.

These beautiful confections are turned out by head pastry chef, Tammy Knock. With whoopie pies, Knock has a knack.  Look at the gorgeous whoopies, the decorative dollops of frosting on the exterior of the cookie is a novel touch!  Chocolate with a Swiss buttercreme filling is their most popular year-round offering. But in the fall, Taste of Belgium offers a pumpkin whoopie pie (yum) and during the heat-heavy doldrums of,summer a lemon whoopie pie (double yum!).  Knock has also experimented with strawberry whoopie pies.

Knock has worked in the restaurant business for over 24 years.  She spent time honing her craft working in restaurants in Charlottesville, Virginia before returning to Cincinnati and working in noted local restaurants Bonbonerie and Viva Vite.

The whoopie pie is commonly associated with the Amish who turn out these legendary treats.  But bakers in Maine have also claimed the whoopie pie as their culinary legacy.  Either way, the whoopie pie has gone gourmet and that is why Knock likes them.

“The whoopie pie is a dessert that lets you be a kid at heart,” Knock says.  She hopes to make it to one of the Amish bakeries outside of Cincinnati at some point to see how their whoopie pies compare.  Meanwhile,she’ll keep turning out Taste of Belgium’s with an eye on detail.

“With baking and pastry, you have to be a perfectionist. Watch your attention to detail because there are so many variables that can be screwed up. Baking is chemistry. Forget one little ingredient and everything can go wrong. I watch detail to the point where I drive people crazy.  In this job you have to be creative, clean and organized,” Knock says.

PHOTO: Whoopie pies being made at Taste of Belgium

Meanwhile, if you want to get one of Taste of Belgium’s whoopie pies, get there early.  They make only about six dozen for each weekend (such perfectionism doesn’t lend itself well to massive volume).

“And there are never any leftover on Monday,” Knock says.

Visit the Taste of Belgium at 1133-1135 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH or online here.

Next stop: Thistle Confections in Dayton, Ohio


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The Discussion

  1. Becky Martin says:

    My relatives in Pennsylvania always called these “gobs.” I wonder if anyone else out there has heard this term?

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    • Gobs is another name for them, good point…southerners have their own variation: the moon pie.

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  2. Barbarainnc says:

    I’d love to have the recipe for the Swiss Buttercream filling!!!

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    • Swiss Buttercream

      For a wedding cake (or most of one, depending on the size)
      2 cups of egg whites (approx. 12 large)
      3 cups sugar
      5 cups butter, softened (2 1/2 pounds, 10 sticks)
      1 tablespoon vanilla extract

      For a 9-inch cake (plus filling, or some to spare)
      1 cup sugar
      4 large egg whites
      26 tablespoons butter, softened (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract

      For the tiniest amount, if you’re just practicing
      1/4 cup sugar
      1 large egg white
      6 tablespoons butter, softened
      1/4 teaspoon vanilla

      Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

      Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)

      Add the vanilla.

      Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and whip, whip, whip.

      Deb note: Do not have a panic attack when this takes a while to come together (though I did every time). One super-large batch took 15 minutes, but it did and will come together. Patience, young Jedis.

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