As you can probably tell by now, I'm a huge fan of sweets. Obviously I know that junk food isn't good for you, but I think its perfectly acceptable in moderation. I grew up on Hostess treats, and I survived somehow. Yet I do worry a bit about all of the preservatives and fillers they add. I've always heard that when Armageddon finally strikes all that will be left is Twinkies and cockroaches, and that doesn't bode well for the Twinkies. (Apparently Hostess Snowballs will also survive, and I agree that its the texture, not the taste.... you'd get that if you'd ever watched Zombieland.) One of the great things about baking treats at home is that I get to be in charge of how much sugar, flour, and other fillers and preservatives go into the cakes and cookies that we are consuming. Now, I won't lie and say this is a healthy snack, but this copycat version is slightly more healthy than its original counterpart. And Homemade always wins over store-bought, right?
My favorite thing about this recipe is that the cake is actually an Angel Food Cake recipe from one of my Grandmother's cookbooks. Cake flour, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla, LOTS of eggs, and a pinch of salt all come together to form a soft and airy, golden sponge cake.
Here comes the bad news- you will have to have to make a Meringue. Most bakers I know do not like making meringue. It takes a good hand mixer or stand mixer (or really strong arm muscles), time, and patience. To make it easier on myself I always follow the same steps:
1. Use a very large glass or stainless steel bowl. You need to whip a lot of air into the eggs to create a meringue, which means you need lots of room for the volume of the whites to increase. Also- always thoroughly dry the bowl beforehand. The slightest bit of water or oil will kill your meringue.
2. Separate the eggs while they're still cold. I find it easier to separate the yolks from the whites while the eggs are still cold. Do not crack the eggs directly over your bowl. If any yolk breaks and slips, you are back to square one. I crack the eggs over the sink, keeping my dry bowl nearby. I use one hand to catch the yolk, and allow the white to run through my fingers into my freshly dried bowl. The yolk gets tossed into a second bowl and saved for the next batch of custard or curd, or whatever I can use it for.
3. Let the whites come to room temperature. This usually only takes 10-20 minutes, depending on how cold you keep your house. That's the perfect amount of time to get everything else ready.
4. Use a Hand or Stand Mixer on high speed. Seriously, it takes a lot of work to aerate those whites and make them stiffen up. Don't make it harder than it is. The stand mixer is perfect because you can turn it to high and step away for a minute, if you like. Now is the time to add your vanilla.
5. Add a stabilizer. I use Cream of Tartar, which is found with the spices, but you can also use white vinegar or lemon juice in a pinch. Add in your stabilizer just as your eggs are starting to get foamy for best results.
6. Add the sugar bit by bit. You want the sugar to fully dissolve for a silky smooth meringue. Dumping it all at once makes that so much harder. (Again, patience.) Double check your meringue by swiping a taste or rubbing it between your fingers. If its gritty, keep beating. If its smooth, then you're all set.
Once your egg whites form stiff peaks, Gently (don't undo all your hard work) fold in the flour mixture just until the flour disappears. Spoon your batter into your pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes, just until lightly golden and Twinkie- colored. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cooled, carefully run a knife around the edge to loosen the Twinkies and remove them from the pan.
The filling is a cinch, by comparison- just dump and mix. Jet-Puff Marshmallow creme, powdered sugar, vanilla, shortening, and a pinch of salt. I use the Crisco Baking Sticks, which is an all-vegetable shortening, and even comes in a butter-flavored version. No need to melt, just cut off the amount you need and toss it in. Beat everything on medium speed until fluffy. Scoop into a pastry bag (use an ice-cream scoop to avoid making a mess) with a frosting tip (I use a Wilton 10 round tip.)
To fill your Twinkies- grip Twinkie in one hand, insert the frosting tip into the bottom of the Twinkie and gently squeeze. You should fill the Twinkie expand slightly. Just like the original, I poke each Twinkie 3 times and squeeeze a little filling in, being careful not to overfill. I got a little carried away at this point, and a few Twinkies exploded. Later I caught site of myself in the bathroom mirror and discovered marshmallow filling on my face, on my neck, and in my hair.
So, there you have it- my recipe for Copycat Twinkies. Can't wait to hear how yours turn out. Don't forget to tag us in your photos:
#iriegirlcookies #keeplifesweet #bakedwithlove