Twinkie Clone – Going Retro

When I was a kid growing up in the 50s, being given a dime to spend brought such a dilemma.  Should I buy a package of Hostess cupcakes or a package of Twinkies?

With last year’s Hostess bankruptcy announcement, there was a flurry of publicity about the company which left many people wondering if Hostess’s iconic products would go the way of the dinosaur.  Now, to be brutally frank— loss of jobs aside—I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

While I had my share as a kid, I haven’t eaten a factory-made Hostess cupcake or Twinkie in 40 years—by choice.  Nostalgia goes only so far!

A few years ago, before I started this blog, I had the pleasure of eating a homemade Hostess cupcake clone which my friend Jill had made.  It was an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, and you can never go wrong there.  I was enraptured by the cloned filling which had a heavenly taste and texture.  Let’s face it, the original filling left a lot to be desired.  When I think back on it, I have visions of melted styrofoam which has been whipped up to be fluffy.  (Uh oh, did I just open myself up to a slander suit?)  Anyway, it took me all of a couple of days to make my own batch of Hostess clone cupcakes.  I haven’t had a chance yet to make and post them here–but all in good time, my baking friends.

That filling was so good that I knew I had to try making a Twinkie clone.  The first step was to find what is called a “cream boat” pan which I found on Amazon.  The second was to buy a Bismarck tip which is used for filling its namesake donuts and other cream-filled desserts.  I already had a frantastic recipe for the cakelet, so I was good to go.

Now, I will tell you up front that filling the Twinkie baked using the cream boat pan was not an easy exercise.  Because I couldn’t wait, I made my first batch before I had the Bismarck tube in hand.  My daughter Sara was helping me try to fill the cakelets, and the two of us were channeling an I Love Lucy episode.  Oh, we broke another cakelet in half—no problem, just eat it!  Sara came up with the brilliant idea of making a tunnel in the cakelet using a vegetable peeler so that we could fill the cakelet.  All I can say is they weren’t pretty, but they sure were delicious.

I must admit that even with a Bismarck tube, it still wasn’t easy to fill the cakelets.  So, unless you’re as anal a baker as I am and set on making a clone that actually looks like a Twinkie, I would forego buying the special pan and Bismarck tube and just make cupcakes.  It’s a lot easier and they will taste every bit as good.

One year ago:  Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Gazpacho

Two years ago:  Biscoff Crunch White Chocolate Chip Cookie

Twinkie Clone – Going Retro

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Ingredients for the Twinkie Cakelets

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbl. cake flour
  • 1 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg white
  • 8 tbl. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbl. sugar

Ingredients for the Twinkie Filling

  • 3 tbl. water
  • 3/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 4 tbl. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme (I used Marshmallow Fluff)

Directions for the Cakelets

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Preheat an oven to 325o F.  Generously grease and flour an 8-well cream boat pan.  If you are making cupcakes, use paper cups to line the tins.  You should get 10 to 12 cupcakes out of the recipe.  When I used this recipe to make my Bostini Cream Pies, I did not line the tins and made 10 cupcakes.  I would definitely use the paper liners with this recipe and that should get you 12 cupcakes.

To make the cakelets, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vanilla; set aside.

In another small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg and egg white; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes more.  Add the egg mixture in two additions, beating well after each addition.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour.  Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Divide the batter among the wells of the prepared pan or cupcake tins if using.

Bake until the cakelets spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cakelets cool for 10 minutes.  Invert the pan onto the rack, gently tap the pan bottom and lift off the pan.  Let the cakelets cool completely.  Makes 8 cakelets or 10 to 12 cupcakes.

Directions for the Filling

Combine water and gelatin in large bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.  Microwave until mixture is bubbling around edges and gelatin dissolves, about 30 seconds.  Stir in butter, vanilla, and salt until combined.  Let mixture cool until just warm to touch, about 5 minutes, then whisk in marshmallow creme until smooth; refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Transfer marshmallow mixture to pastry bag fitted with a long Bismarck tip.  Insert tip in either end of cakelet and/or the bottom of the cakelet.  Move the tip around a little bit inside the cakelet to make room for the filling; then squeeze the pastry bag to release filling as you slowly withdraw the tip.

If you have made cupcakes, cut out a plug from the center of the cupcake and squeeze filling into hole.  Replace the plug—you may have to trim some of the bottom off.  Now it won’t look like a Twinkie, but you won’t care what it looks like when you taste it.  If I were to make them into cupcakes, I would make extra filling and use that as a frosting as well as the filling.

Fran’s Notes

I realize that the original Twinkies were filled from the bottom and not from the ends, but my attempts to fill from the bottom were not very successful!

Source:  Vanilla Cakelet from a Williams-Sonoma recipe; Filling from America’s Test Kitchen

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