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Twinkie Kerfuffle: Simplify your life and make them yourself

2012-11-25T00:00:00Z Twinkie Kerfuffle: Simplify your life and make them yourself nwitimes.com
November 25, 2012 12:00 am

I started writing this column when I heard Hostess had closed and there would no longer be Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs and no Sno Balls in our lives and that people were beginning to sell them on eBay and Amazon at astronomical prices. For example, an eBay ad touts “the original 8K Twinkie seen on National News” as a collector’s item with a starting bid of $8000, though at the time I write this no one has bid on it yet.

That might be because Hostess is said to be in be in re-negotiations with the labor union they claim caused all of the problems to begin with. And if so, Twinkies, which originated in 1930 at the beginning of the Great Depression and were originally filled with a banana cream (that changed to vanilla during World War II because bananas were rationed), will most likely be back on the shelves.

Even before union problems, Twinkies and other snacks like them — filled with long, chemical-sounding names and reputed to be able to remain on shelves for years — were already falling out of favor because though we still like to snack, we’re turning to healthier snacks whose ingredients we can comprehend.

On a personal note, I remember my mother would take me to the East Chicago Public Library where she worked when I was around 8 or so and among the many jobs she had me do there — besides dusting the gloomy, rather scary stacks and unpacking and checking the receipts of newly bound books — was to collect the break time orders from the other librarians, and, with a printed list and money, walk down to the little grocery store around the block. I would buy packages of Hostess treats, New Era Potato Chips, candy bars and pop to take back. As my payment I was allowed to buy a treat, and it was always a package of Twinkies and a bottle of 7-Up.

Now thinking of all that sweetness makes me cringe, but Twinkies will always be part of my memory of a time where I felt very important to be allowed to do such a job.

If there are to be no more Hostess Twinkies or Hostess Cupcakes and you don’t want to spend $8000 for that last taste, I’ve researched the recipe for Twinkies so that Hostess snack food lovers can recreate their favorites at home. But note, whether Hostess Twinkies can last for years, these can’t and are best the first few days after being baked.

Homemade Twinkies

For The Cakes:

Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil

1/2 cup cake flour

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 large eggs at room temperature, separated

12 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For The Filling:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff

2 tablespoons heavy cream.

For the cakes: Heat the oven to 350 degrees and adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position.

To make single-use Twinkie molds, cut 12 pieces of aluminum foil 12 inches wide by 14 inches long. Fold each piece of foil in half lengthwise, then fold it in half again to create a rectangle that’s about 6 inches long and 7 inches wide. Repeat to make a dozen rectangles.

Place one sheet of folded foil on a work surface with a standard-size spice jar on its side in the center of the foil. Bring the long sides of the foil up around the jar, folding the sides and ends as necessary to make a tight trough-shape from which the jar can be removed. Repeat to make 12 foil molds. Spray generously with nonstick spray or coat with vegetable oil. Place the molds on a baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Cover to keep warm.

Using a standing mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add 6 tablespoons of the sugar and the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the whites reach soft peaks.

Transfer the beaten egg whites to a large bowl and add the egg yolks to the standing mixer bowl (there’s no need to clean the bowl). Beat the egg yolks with the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and a pale lemon color, about 5 minutes. Add the beaten egg whites to the yolks, but do not mix.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg whites and then mix everything on low speed for just 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer, make a well in one side of the batter, and pour the melted butter mixture into the bowl. Fold gently with a large rubber spatula until the batter shows no trace of flour and the whites and yolks are evenly mixed, about 8 strokes.

Immediately scrape the batter into the prepared molds, filling each with about 3/4 inch of batter. Bake until the cake tops are light brown and feel firm and spring back when touched, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pan containing the molds to a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool in the molds.

For the filling: Using a mixer, beat together the butter, confectioners’ sugar and Marshmallow Fluff. Add the cream and beat just until smooth.

Just before filling the cakes, remove them from the foil. Using the end of a chopstick, poke three holes in the bottom of each cake. Wiggle the tip of the chopstick to make room for the filling. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Pipe frosting into the holes in each cake, taking care not to overfill, until it gently expands. Unlike real Twinkies, these won’t last indefinitely. They’re best served still slightly warm.

Makes 12 homemade Twinkies.

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