I remember a television ad from my younger days. It showed the concerned, caring mother talking to another mother about making good snack choices for her children. She said, "When I say, 'Yes,' it's Hostess."
My sister and I thought this was hilarious. The idea that Twinkies were a good, healthy, snack was laughable, even then.
Recently I read a fascinating article about the ingredients in Twinkies and the sources of those ingredients and it was pretty scary. Food you eat and especially food you give your children shouldn't have more syllables than a stutterer reading Tolstoy's work in Russian.
However, reading the article reminded me that I have a Twinkie pan in my cupboard. It's one of those silly, one-use pans that doesn't get much use, but my family loves it when I remember it and make some home-made Twinkies.
My sweet mother-in-law bought me the pan from Williams Sonoma and I used the recipe that came with the pan for the cake part. I doubled the recipe, making 8 cakes in the Twinkie pan and 12 regular cupcakes. I wanted to show that you can make these, even if you don't have the special pan. I'd forgotten, though, that the special pan is super non-stick so that the cake will slide out easily. My muffin pan isn't and since I hadn't done a super job of greasing and flouring it, the muffin cakes had to be pried out, to their aesthetic detriment. Not bloggable, but still tasty.
The cake recipe makes a very moist, tender cake, but if you felt like using your favorite yellow cake recipe, I'm sure that would work fine, too.
Previously, I used the Williams Sonoma recipe for the filling, but it was kind of gluey and everyone in my family agreed it wasn't right. Other versions of the filling on the internet called for a shortening-based filling. I'm trying to steer away from hydrogenated fats (except my beloved Jif peanut butter which I just can't give up), so I looked at other options and decided on a Bavarian Creme for the filling. It's delicious! The cakes should be refrigerated since they have real cream filling, but they taste so much better than the original Twinkies, they won't be hogging space in your refrigerator for long. And isn't that better than nasty cakes that never go bad?
2-1/4 cups cake flour
2-1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 sticks unsalted butter
1-3/4 cups sugar
Have all the ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Generously grease and flour Twinkie Pan and 12 muffins cups, or 24 muffin cups.
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 the eggs; 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 Bake until the cakelets spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dean, 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.
To fill, spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip. Insert the tip 1 inch into the bottom of a cake. Gently squeeze the filling into the cake while slowly withdrawing the tip. Repeat in two more places along the bottom. Turn the cake over so that the filling holes are on the underside and place on a serving plate. Repeat with the remaining cakes and filling. Makes 16 Twinkies or 24 cupcakes.
Bavarian Cream Filling
2 Tbsp gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1- In a small bowl stir together the gelatin and cold water. Set aside to soften. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until smooth.
2 - In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, stir a small amount in to the egg yolk mixture, then stir the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk until well blended. Whisk in the softened gelatin and vanilla. Pour through a strainer into a bowl and allow to cool. If you're impatient, as I am, you can set the bowl inside a larger bowl that has ice and water in it. Stir the mixture so it will cool evenly.
3- When cooled to almost room temperature, whip the cream to medium stiffness and fold it into the mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.