It’s hard to think that there are people out there that do not particularly enjoy your art. People who no matter what you do, will always have something negative to say. Something in a disapproving tone to add to your work. Snarky remarks and reviews that throw away all the time and energy you spent creating a specific body of work. All the blood, sweat and tears-not literally but figuratively of course-are brushed off and cast to the side by these critical viewers. You’ll always encounter people, or rather, there will always be someone-if not multiple someones-that will not like what you are doing. Not just in art, but life in general. They might not agree with your life choices or the decisions you choose to make. They will not approve of the people you decide to love, or the paths you choose to take. You’ll encounter individuals who are ready to break you down. Said individuals might not particularly care for the photographs you take, the food you make, the pictures you sketch, the paintings you paint, the music you write and so on and so forth. I think it’s important to keep those negative people and their comments in your mind as you create. As you photograph. As you cook. As you sketch. As you paint. As you play. Maybe not so prevalent in your mind, that it interferes with your creativity. Not so prevailing that it stops you from doing what you love most. No, keep it on the back burner.
I think it is crucial to still remember that. It makes you stronger as an art maker. It makes you better as a human being. A more rounded individual. Sure you can easily tell yourself that those comments do not bother you. That they roll off your back, and maybe to a certain degree they do not affect you. They do roll of your back. There is no denying, however, that somewhere deep down inside, those comments have flipped a tiny switch in you. They have made you aware of the giant elephant in the room. And with the snap of your fingers-just like that-all those insecurities, that we as artists, have spent years containing and suppressing, in the blink of an eye come flooding back in. Like a raging waterfall of neglect. An awareness that is so grand it stops you from thinking. It takes you aback and throws you off guard. How can something so trivial-written by a perfect stranger-affect you so profoundly? Influence you to the point that you start questioning your art-even worse-start questioning yourself?
As an artist, myself, I create work that I find gratifying and stimulating. Photographing food is only a part of my art. Only a part of what I enjoy doing. For me, the cooking aspect goes hand in hand with the setting up of the edible composition and in-turn the releasing of the shutter. Being in the kitchen is equally as important. It’s where I shine most. I wouldn’t be able to photograph the food I shoot, if it wasn’t for the fact that I spend so much time-maybe equally if not more-cooking and preparing the dishes themselves. Each recipe is taken into consideration. Day’s prior, are spent brainstorming and finalizing a dish to photograph. Grocery lists are made and checked through three times to make sure I have not forgotten anything-and of course something is inevitably still left out. A full week goes by and I’m still working on the same post. And why is that? Because I take everything into consideration. I take my time to put out the best work that I can. Work that I can be proud of. It’s the perfectionist in me. Yet, it’s so much more than that. It’s because when it all comes down to it, I do want people to enjoy my work. I want people to try out the recipes for themselves. And then share their experiences.
I must admit that it isn’t always easy for me. There are times when, what I described earlier, has affected me. There are people out there who do not like my work. Who do not approve of my methods. These individuals find my site tiring. My photographs too many. My step-by-step depictions silly. Perhaps to a certain degree it is all those things. Maybe I do not need to show every single last detail, but if my site isn’t their cup of tea, well then it isn’t their cup of tea. And nothing I do can change that. Yes, for a brief moment, I lost sight of why I make art. Why I photograph my step-by-step site. Then I realized that those people do not define me as an artist. My work does. Those few comments do not overrule or null all the comments by readers who actually do enjoy my work. Those fans who not only like all the photographs but it actually helps them. Because they, like me, are visual learners. And they, like me, enjoy staring at countless images of food. So to those people who do not enjoy my site, I’m sorry we’re not a fit but thankfully there are a vast number of other sites that you might find intriguing. More importantly, to those people who I have managed to capture, thank you. Thank you for visiting and coming back. Thank you for trying the recipes and for the kind words you send. Thank you for taking the time to write a shout out. Thank you for scrolling down the long posts. Your words are encouragements to me. It’s because of you that I continue to do what I love most. And what I would like most right now is for us to share a red velvet whoopie pie together.
I think by now we’ve developed a bond, you and I.
Chances are you already know what comes next.
Did you guess it right?
Clean mixer bowls are the fundamentals of cooking-at least in my kitchen they are.
Add in the melted butter.
If you don’t think softened butter is sexy, well then, how about melted butter?
Liquid gold. It’s just sexy.
Throw in the buttermilk.
We’ll need a couple eggs.
Add the vanilla extract.
Next up, is the vinegar.
It’s a common thing to add apple cider vinegar to red velvet batter. It wouldn’t be red velvet without it.
The vinegar enhances the red color.
It also wouldn’t be red velvet batter without the red.
Red food coloring. Add it.
I like to use the Wilton gel food colorings. The color comes out much better than the liquid kind.
Plus they offer a “No Taste Red” which doesn’t alter the flavor of the batter. Always a bonus.
So that’s all of the “wet ingredients.”
Start the mixer on low.
Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
While that is going, get the dry ingredients ready.
Stop everything you’re doing. Hell is freezing over. This might be the only time you see this.
But yes, I’m about to sift the dry ingredients.
I know, I know. I, Jonathan Melendez, am sifting ingredients. Who thought the day would come?
For this recipe, it’s crucial that you sift, even I have to do it. Cocoa and cake flour can get lumpy, so sift away.
Enjoy the images of sifting, while they last.
It’s unsweetened cocoa powder. Take note.
Let the sifting begin.
It happens so infrequently in my kitchen, that I’ve forgotten what it looks like.
So I took advantage of the situation and snapped away feverishly.
Why yes, that is a multitude of sifting images that are completely unnecessary. Thank you for noticing.
Add the dry ingredients in three batches.
Start by adding a third of the dry mixture.
Once the first batch of dry ingredients are added, give it a mix just until combined.
Try not to over-mix the batter.
Then add the next batch.
Aaaaand we’ll do another mix.
A gentle mix.
And now for our last batch.
And we’ll give it our final mix.
I like to really taste the chocolate flavor when I have a red velvet anything.
The cocoa powder just isn’t enough in my opinion. So we’re going to add a few ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate.
Plus, that chocolate also adds a firmness and stability to the batter which will come in handy when we scoop out the cookies.
Pour the melted chocolate into the red velvet batter.
You know what to do.
Mix until just incorporated.
We’re finally done with the batter.
Apparently-I just found out-there are actual whoopie pie pans out there. I guess if you have them, you could use it here. At this point. Or if you’d like to be the lucky owners of such a pan, you can find them here.
But, if you’re like me and don’t want to spend money on such a pan, or just don’t have it right this very second, don’t fret, you can still make these whoopie pies!
How, you ask? Well, thanks for asking. Step right up, let me show you how.
All you need is a baking pan, lined with parchment paper, and a small/medium ice cream scoop.
Yup that’s all you need.
I know you might be skeptic at this moment, but don’t be. The batter is very thick (Thank you Mr. Melted Chocolate) and the cookies will keep their shape.
Scoop out even mounds of the batter onto the prepared sheets. Leave enough space between each, don’t overcrowd them.
Since we’re going to be sandwiching these “cookies” together, make sure you scoop out symmetrical mounds.
That way they line up evenly.
This next step is optional.
I like to smooth out the mounds so they look good.
Just wet your hands and give them a gentle pat.
Smooth them all out.
They are now ready to hit the oven.
Bake the cookies, in a preheated 375° oven for 8-10 minutes.
Allow them to slightly cool on the baking sheet itself, so they firm up.
After 5 minutes, transfer the cookies onto cooling racks and allow them to cool down completely.
While they cool off, let’s make the filling.
What I tell ya? Mixer bowl starts everything off.
Throw in the block of softened cream cheese.
Now there is a great divide out there when it comes to whoopie pies.
Some say traditional whoopie pies have a marshmallow filling, and it wouldn’t be a whoopie without it.
Others say that its a cream cheese base filling.
I don’t know which one it is. I wasn’t there when it was first invented, so I couldn’t tell you one way or the other.
So I’m going to be neutral here and just add both.
It’s a win-win.
So add a scoopful of marshmallow fluff.
Add a splash of vanilla.
Whip it together, with the whisk attachment.
Whisk on high, until creamy.
Add the final ingredient.
Whip until creamy and thick.
It’s cookie filling time.
Grab two cookies.
Flip them over.
Fill a piping bag-fitted with a star attachment-with the frosting.
Then pipe out a thin layer of the filling onto one of the halves.
Why yes, that is a multitude of piping images that are completely unnecessary. Thank you for noticing.
Place the “lid” on top of the filling.
Continue with the rest of the cookies.
Your whoopie pies are finally done.
Sure they are convenient and can easily be eaten on the go, but let’s keep it a little classy.
Set the table for it.
Light some candles.
Dig in. Go.
Let loose. Have 3 or 4.
If you’re a big fan of red velvet cupcakes, then you’ll love these whoopie pies.
Make them right away-don’t deprive yourself any longer.
But above all, enjoy.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Yield: 12 medium sized whoopie pies or 24 small.
For the Cookies:
- 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon red food coloring
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Filling:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup marshmallow fluff
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the semisweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, in short 30 second blasts. Whisk until smooth. Reserve for later.
Whisk the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring in a bowl until combined. In another bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three equal batches, mixing each batch completely before adding the next. Stir in the melted chocolate.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out even mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheets and smooth the tops with a damp finger. Bake until the cookies spring back when lightly pressed, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Beat the cream cheese, marshmallow fluff and butter with a mixer until smooth. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract. Sandwich a heaping tablespoonful of filling between 2 cookies using a pastry bag; repeat with the remaining cookies and filling. Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. I personally prefer the whoopie pies cold. Enjoy.