When I dropped of my homemade Swiss Rolls at my friend Jim's house, he mentioned that his kids have never had a Twinkie. I own a Twinkie pan that sits neglected in our attic (I think I had used it only once before), so I quickly added Twinkies to my baking to-do list.
In theory, Twinkies are pretty easy to make and the pan should do most of the work. They're just yellow cake with cream filling. But BraveTart's Homemade Twinkies are actually a ton of work, mostly because of the Homemade Cool Whip filling.
I made the Homemade Cool Whip a day ahead of time; it's a variation of Stella's Vanilla Marshmallow creme filling. You cook water, corn syrup, sugar, and salt to 250 degrees F.; transfer the mixture to a bowl and cool it to exactly 212 degrees F.; add gelatin bloomed with cool water and vanilla; whip until thick and tripled in volume; and add in a mixture of milk and powdered milk. You pour the mixture into a greased container; cover and let it stand for a couple of hours; and then whip in heavy cream until the mixture is stiff and creamy. You can store the Cool Whip in the fridge until you're ready to use it. I gave a small spoonful to my husband to sample and he immediately identified the flavor as Cool Whip.
The cake itself is pretty straightforward. You whip egg yolks with sugar, salt, and vanilla until thick and doubled in volume; drizzle in oil, followed by club soda (Stella says the club soda provides a steady stream of bubbles that provide the baking soda with air to expand); and whisk in cake flour and baking soda. You pour the batter into a greased Twinkie mold and bake.
I was underwhelmed with these Twinkies, especially considering how labor intensive it was to make the Cool Whip. The Cool Whip was light and delicious, and the cake was springy -- but it tasted just like your average yellow cake. I mean, I appreciate the novelty of being able to eat a homemade Twinkie, but I didn't think it was worth the effort. This cake needs some sort of frosting or filling and my ratio wasn't quite right, so I think I would be more enthusiastic about a Twinkie with more filling. I would definitely choose a homemade Twinkie over the storebought version, but perhaps the problem is that I've never really been a fan of Twinkies in the first place!
Recipes: "Homemade Twinkies" and "Homemade Cool Whip [variation of Vanilla Marshmallow Creme]" from BraveTart by Stella Parks.