So we had my friend Laura’s family over a few weeks ago, and I know she likes to cook so I asked her to bring a few dishes. For dessert, she brought a homemade version of Hostess Ding-Dongs. They were irresistible! I couldn’t keep myself from going back and eating more and more! I think I consumed four or five by the time the night was over. It was shameful! (Not to mention the beginning of the end of my progress with Weight Watchers for a time.)
I took a picture of them for you:
So shortly after we had them over, I had surgery. All I wanted to eat when I got home was one of those stupid Ding-Dongs. My beloved husband went out and bought me a box of Hostess Ding-Dongs, and let me tell you–they were pathetic in comparison!
So I found out how Laura made them, and immediately set out to make them for myself, everyone at the Super Bowl party we went to, and then again for Simon’s class Valentine party.
Here’s how it goes:
(Laura used normal cupcake pans and I used my fancy, new heart shaped Wilton cupcake pans that I found at Target. The pictured cupcakes were the ones that went to Simon’s school for their Valentine party.)
Homemade Ding Dongs
For the Cake
(Laura told me to use the Hershey’s Chocolate Cake recipe from the back of the cocoa box, so I did.)
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Grease and flour two or three cupcake pans. (You can do it in shifts if you don’t have enough pans.)
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
- Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
- Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. (Don’t fill the cups more than halfway. You don’t want them to crown.)
Bake 20-25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (I started checking at 15.)
- Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to towel lined rack. Cool completely. (Don’t leave them to cool too long—overnight is too long. The cake still needs to be a little soft so the filling doesn’t explode out the sides. Trust me on this one.)
While they’re cooling, make your filling.
For the Filling
(Laura told me that she uses a 7-Minute Frosting, so I found a recipe. This one isn’t the best, but it worked just fine since it’s really more about the cake. If you have another version that’s better, PLEASE feel free to post it in comments and I’ll give it a try. My friend Jen has a recipe for marshmallow fluff that I’m wondering about, too…)
1 c granulated sugar
1/3 c water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 dash salt
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
- Combine all ingredients but vanilla in the top of a double boiler or a metal bowl above a pan with an inch or two of simmering water. (I’m told not to let the water come to a full boil, but I’m not sure why. I think mine might have at some point.)
- Using your hand mixer, beat it over the heat until definite peaks form.
- Remove from heat and continue beating until the frosting is cool to the touch.
- Beat in the vanilla. (Use real vanilla, you’d really be able to taste the fake stuff in this.)
When the cupcakes are cool, stick some frosting in a piping bag with a medium tip. (I used a medium star, but I don’t think it really matters.)
Stick the tip right into the middle of the top of the cupcake, and squeeze until the cupcake starts to puff up a little. (That’s a tricky process, too. You have to get enough in there, but if you put in too much the frosting can explode/squirt out the bottom, sides, or top. It took me a couple of tries to figure out how much to squeeze in before it starts to explode.)
After you’ve filled all of them, you can start working on the coating.
For the coating, Laura highly recommends Plymouth Pantry brand chocolate almond bark melted with shortening. At first I kept thinking that there has to be an alternative that would be more natural and have fewer chemicals, but there’s something about the exact combination of all of it that makes it perfect. So if you want to use a ganache or melted chocolate with some shortening, I’m not going to try to stop you, but just know that the Plymouth Pantry Chocolate Bark and the shortening makes a softer chocolate that has a texture almost exactly like real Ding Dongs–without the waxy flavor that real Ding Dongs tend to have.
So to use the bark, you just break up the squares and put the whole package worth into a microwave safe bowl along with about two generous tbs. of Crisco. (I found that my one quart PC batter bowl works really well.) Melt it for 90 seconds on high, stir, then continue nuking and stirring until it’s melted. (Don’t let it go too far or it’ll scorch.)
You then take the cupcakes, one at a time, and dip them in the chocolate.
Put them on waxed paper with the bottom of the cupcake up, and the part with the filling hole on the bottom. (Laura actually has a fancy, Wilton candy dipper thingy to make the whole process much easier, but I just used two forks. They were far from perfect looking, but I figure they can look rustic since they’re homemade.)
After that, they’re pretty much ready to eat. The ones I made for the Super Bowl party still had the messy drips of chocolate around the bottoms, but I took a small knife and trimmed up the ones I sent to school for Valentine’s Day. (I have to say the chocolate drips around the bottom might be my favorite part, so I don’t know that I’d trim them in the future.)
I’m warning you now, line up friends to help you eat them or you won’t be able to resist their siren song!