BAKE in Wicker Park

whoopie (2)

I first met Eric Estrella in the pastry kitchen at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago. I used to bring wedding cake samples for my Ritz weddings to the hotel for tastings, and Eric always generously opened up his kitchen and allow me to prep alongside him. Over the years, Eric and I would catch up and ‘talk shop’ about what it was like to own our own bakeries. You see, Eric is what I like to call an over achiever – not only is he the executive pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago, but in addition, he and his wife Jennifer own a quaint, delicious bakery called BAKE featuring out-of-this-world, classic American desserts.

The first time I went to BAKE, I bought a variety of samples, genuinely intending to just take one bite; you know, to ‘check out the competition.’ The 10-minute car ride quickly turned into a binge fest as I immediately consumed the entire turtle brownie, then watched one macaroon turn into two and one bite of a chocolate chip scone turn into nothing left but crumbs. All I can say is, it was worth it!

Eric and Jennifer have shared their signature whoopie pie recipe with us, and I encourage you to give it a try. Just heed my advice, their pastries are dangerous!


WHOOPIE PIE (pictured above)

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

¾ cup hot water

½ cup sour cream

10 ½ oz brown sugar

¼ cup butter

1 ea eggs

2 cups all purpose flour

¾ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla


1. Heat the water and dissolve the cocoa powder and soda.

2. Add the sour cream and cool.

3. Beat the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer.

4. Add half the dry.

5. Add the half of the cocoa mix.

6. Add the remaining dry.

7. Add the last cocoa mix.

8. Pipe into the desired sizes on a pan lined with parchment.

9. Bake in an oven set at 365 F for 12-15 minutes.

10. Don’t over bake!



4 ea egg whites

1 cup sugar

1 pound unsalted butter (soft)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Combine the egg whites and sugar with a whisk in a bowl over a hot water bath.

2. Whip the white mixture when the sugar is dissolved in an electric mixer. When the whites are whipped to maximum volume, turn the machine down to medium and add gradually the butter. Add the vanilla extract and whip until smooth.

3. Use a piping bag to fill the round cake-like part with buttercream. Then place the other half on top and make a sandwich, aka a whoopie pie!

Sarah Levy

About Sarah Levy Imberman

Sarah Levy delighted millions as the owner and proprietor of Sarah's Pastries & Candies, one of Chicago's most popular confectionaries since its opening in 2004. A graduate of Northwestern University and the French Pastry School, Ms. Levy is the author of Sweetness: Delicious Baked Treats for Every Occasion and the winner of the Food Network Challenge. She’s been featured in USA TodayBetter Homes and Gardens and the Chicago Tribune, among many others. Ms. Levy's now doing business as S. Levy Foods, and is a leader in the airport food concession business.