Prep Time: 40-45 minutes
Bake Time: 12-14 minutes
Yield: 24-26 Ding Dongs
Recipe inspired by: A How-to Baker Original
Next to Twinkies, Ding Dongs were the champion of many school lunches when I was little. At my elementary school, Hostess snack cakes were such a big deal that we even went so far as to create an underground Hostess ring which sold Twinkies, Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs to all the children who’s oppressive parents refused to buy Hostess products.
So, after much anticipation the “Great Hostess Bake-Off” brings you…homemade Ding Dongs! Just like the Twinkie Cupcakes, these Ding Dongs are everything the factory-made originals hope to be. And, just like the Twinkies these cakes start out as simple cupcakes.
The cupcakes are a buttermilk chocolate cake which is super simple and goes together easily. The cakes could be filled with the same filling used for the Twinkie cupakes and be just fine. However, I’m kicking it up a notch by filling these Ding Dongs with a seven minute meringue. Either way, there’s really no way to lose here.
I chose to coat the cakes with a semi-sweet ganache because of the flavor and velvety texture. However, you could also use melted chocolate mixed with a few tablespoons of shortening if you’re going for the more traditional Ding Dong with a hard chocolate shell.
Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Seven Minute Meringue
1-1/2 cup (+) 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 egg whites
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 pound semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Directions for Homemade Ding Dongs:
Preparing the Ding Dong cakes. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray two cupcake pans with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. There’s no need to pre-sift the ingredients. Add oil and buttermilk. Mix on medium speed until well blended. Scrape down sides of the bowl.
With the mixer running on low speed, add eggs one at a time; beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add coffee and vanilla. Mix on low speed until smooth. Pour batter into prepared cupcake pans, filling cups just shy of 1/2 full. This is easiest done if you pour the batter into a small pitcher and then pour into the pans.
Baking the cupcakes and preparing the filling. Bake cupcakes in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick entered in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes; then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.
Combine 1-1/2 cups sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved. Boil sugar mixture without stirring until it reaches the soft-ball stage, 238° F.
While the sugar is cooking, place the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl. Using either the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
With the mixer running on medium-low speed, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Then, gradually pour the hot syrup down the side of the mixing bowl. Raise speed to high and beat until cool and stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.
Preparing the ganache coating. In a large bowl, combined chocolate and corn syrup. Pour heavy cream in a small saucepan and bring to a light boil. Remove pan from heat and pour over the chocolate mixture. Let stand for 2 minutes. Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth. Let the ganache sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before use.
Filling and coating the Ding Dongs. Place the prepared frosting into a small zip-top storage bag or pastry bag fitted with a round pastry tip. Gently insert the tip into the underside of each cupcake, about halfway through the cake. Gently squeeze a small amount of filling into the cupcake. You should feel the cake expand under your fingers. Don’t overfill the cake or the frosting will burst through the top.
Working with a few at a time, gently drop the filled cupcakes into the bowl of ganache. Use a fork to spread chocolate over the top side of each cupcake. Remove chocolate coated cakes from the ganache and transfer to a wax paper lined pan to set.
Store Ding Dongs’s tightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or up to 5 days in the refrigerator.