AKA, crap-free Twinkies.

Homemade-TwinkiesFinley and I made these from scratch last week. Three days later Hostess announced the return of the Twinkie.

Coincidence? I think not. They were totally threatened by our bad-ass, preservative free knock-offs. 

Homemade-Twinkies-5We decided to make these because, in a moment of weakness, I bought Finley a single serve package of the real thing right before they were pulled from the shelves and he was hooked. He’s an official Twinkie junkie.

These are a much less guilt inducing option for Moms like me. You know, the kind who love to treat their kids, but also want to keep them human and not a freaky byproduct of cotton cellulose and yellow #5. (Interesting side note: cotton cellulose, the ingredient that gives Twinkie cream it’s glossy shine, is also used in rocket fuel.*)

Seriously though, these were pretty easy to make and spot-on to the original. The sponge cake has a great slightly chewy, airy texture and the cream filling couldn’t get much better. To get the traditional Twinkie shape, I sprung for this canoe shaped baking pan, by Norpro, but you could also make these in a standard cupcake tin with fabulous results.

Creme Filled Sponge Cakes
(Slightly adapted from Classic Snacks Made from Scratch. Makes 16 snack cakes)

5 large eggs (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour

Creme Filling:
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp hot water
1/4 tsp salt

To make the cakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat the baking pan with baking spray.

Separate the egg whites and yolks into separate large mixing bowls.

Combine the sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 20 seconds to get a finely ground consistency. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks on medium speed for 20 – 30 seconds, or until they start to thicken and slightly lighten in color. Add the sugar mixture and the vanilla, continue to beat until the mixture thickens and becomes an off-white, creamy color. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add in the flour.

In the separate large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they begin to form soft peaks. Use a wooden spoon to stir around 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter to loosen it a bit, then gently fold in the remaining whipped egg whites in 2 or 3 batches, being careful to maintain the fluffiness.

Spoon around 3 tbsp of the batter into each cavity of the prepared pan, filling each around 2/3 full. Save the remaining batter for a second batch.

Bake the cakes in the preheated oven for 8 – 10 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. (If you’re using a cupcake tin, time will be more in the 13 – 15 minute range)

Homemade-Twinkies-4Cool the cakes in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Once they’ve cooled to the touch, line the wire rack with wax paper and spray it lightly with baking spray. Turn the cakes out on to the wax paper and cool completely before filling.

Homemade-Twinkies-3To make the filling, combine the warm water and salt in a small dish and stir to dissolve. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the Marshmallow Fluff and vegetable shortening and mix to combine until smooth and free of any lumps. Slowly add in the confectioners sugar and mix to combine, then add in the vanilla and salted water. Continue to mix until completely combined and free of any lumps.

To fill the cakes, transfer the creme filling to a large pastry bag (or heavy ziplock bag) fitted with a round pastry filling tip (Wilton #230.) Insert the pastry tip around halfway into the bottom of each cake at one end of the canoe shape, and squeeze in a small amount of creme, just until it starts to ooze out a bit. Repeat at the center and again at the other end so you have three distinct creme pockets inside each cake. Just like the original. BOOM.

Homemade-Twinkies-6To store the cakes, arrange them in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to a week. Believe it or not, these actually got better with age. The texture of the sponge-cake never faltered, even without rocket fuel creme.

Homemade-Twinkies-7OMFG. SO GOOD.

*Twinkie, Deconstructed (Hudson Street Press, $24), by Steven Ettlinger.