The Slow-Cooked Sentence

A conversation occurring minutes before guests arrive

Rachael Conlin Levy

“What happened to the whoopie pies? Marcel asked.

“Nothing. Why?” I said.

“A bite’s been taken out of each one.”


“A bite.”

“You’re joking.”

I walked into the bedroom where I’d stashed the dessert of cream-filled sandwich cookies because my kitchen is small. Thinking I was being clever, I’d placed 4-year-old Ivan in charge, reasoning that if he shouldered the responsibility of protecting the whoopie pies, they’d be safe not only from his older brothers and sister, but, most importantly, from him.


Now, I stood before a baking sheet filled with sandwich cookies boasting bite marks. Four were spared.


“You shouldn’t have put them down low where he could reach them,” Marcel said.

“Well, it’s too late now for that,” I said.

I yelled again for Ivan as he walked into the bedroom.

“Yes, Mom?”

“What happened to the whoopie pies?”


“But what happened to them? They’re for our guests and now there’s a bite taken out of each one.”

“I was starving,” Ivan said.

“But why did you have to take a bite out of every one of them? Why not just take an entire cookie and eat that one?”

“Okay.” He smiled.

“No, no, no. You can’t have any more! Tell me what happened.”

“Well, I was starving and I went in and took a bite and got a drink of water and watched the ‘puter game and then I got starving again.”

Whoopie pies are not quite a cookie and not quite a cake, but fall somewhere in between, according to “Whoopie Pies” by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell, whose cookbook runs wild with possibilities like:

The two constants in all these happy combinations are the generous amount of creamy filling and the pies’ soft, rounded shapes. I looked at my half-eaten pies resembling half moons and sighed.

“You were hungry fourteen times?”


Teeth marks were cut away, the whoopie pies stacked and the four untouched ones served to our guests, who went on to request seconds, fully aware they’d been vetted by our young taste tester — who developed a stomachache later that night.

Classic chocolate whoopie
Adapted from “Whoopie Pies” by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell
Makes about 48 two-inch cakes

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cup milk

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375-F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in one bowl and set aside. In another bowl, beat together the butter, shortening and brown sugar on low speed with an electric mixer. Increase speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.

Add half the flour mixture and half the milk to the batter and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining flour mixture and milk and beat until smooth.

Using a spoon, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter on to the baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for 10 minutes or until the pies spring back when gently pressed. Remove from oven and let the cakes sit on the sheet for another 5 minutes before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

Classic marshmallow filling

1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream

1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

With a mixer, beat together the marshmallow cream and shortening until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat about 3 minutes longer.

Assembling whoopie pies:

Spread the filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife or spoon. Top it with another cake, flat side down. Repeat. Alternatively, you can use a pastry bag with a round top to pipe the filling onto the cakes.

8 responses to “A conversation occurring minutes before guests arrive”

  1. I love, love, love this story πŸ™‚ You can just see the wheels turning in his head…surely a teeny bite out of each one would be less of a crime than devouring one whole one…somehow! They look yummy even in their slightly diminished state!

  2. I’m sure this wasn’t very funny in the moment, but it sure is funny to me. What a fabulous story, and you’ve documented the event with photographs. A bite out of each one. Ha! I love that this made perfect sense to him.

  3. Tara Funair says:

    That is spectacular and completely something my 2yo would do. He is notorious for taking 1 bite out of everything.

  4. Kyna says:

    I think it was the sprinkles that lured him into taking a bite out of each.

  5. Karen Allen says:

    Cheeky young Ivan! Did you serve them up anyway? πŸ™‚

  6. Margie says:

    What a wonderful moment! I would love to have heard your guests comments, both at the house and later on their ways home. Ivan is such a wonderful creative child! I’m so glad he’s yours πŸ™‚

  7. Peggy says:

    Too funny! I love the photos. Your Mom was telling me about this & I had to check it out. Thanks for the laugh.

  8. LaDonna says:

    I too heard this special story from your mom. Rachael, you are a wonderful writer and your experiences are such fun to read. Thanks for the smile.

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