Prep Time: 40-45 minutes
Bake Time: 4-8 minutes
Yield: 12-14 Ho Hos
Recipe inspired by: Cook’s Illustrated from November 2000, Caprial’s Desserts and Brian’s love of all things chocolate.
Well friends, we’ve reached what for some is a much anticipated moment in the Great Hostess Bake-Off…homemade Ho Hos. Like many Hostess snack cakes, Ho Hos (also known as Chocolate Logs and Swiss Rolls depending where you live) are essentially a chocolate sponge cake filled with cream filling and covered with even more chocolate. The one thing that sets Ho Hos apart from other snack cakes are their unique spiral shape.
Making a full sized spiral cake is challenging enough for most bakers. For this creation, Ho Hos proved to be an even greater challenge because of their smaller shape and tighter spiral. After two separate attempts at making spiral-shaped Ho Hos (check out the pictures below to see a few of the failures), I decided to make lemonade out of lemons and turn this recipe into Ho Ho sandwiches. My two biggest problems when making this recipe turned out to be over-baking (the first cake) and using too small of a sheet pan the second time which made a thicker than desired cake.
Even though the shape didn’t quite turn out as I would have desired, these Ho Ho sandwiches tasted awesome on the first day they were made. Oddly enough, with each passing day after they were made the cakes tasted more and more like the factory-made variety. I’m not sure if it is a good sign but by the third day, the flavor was almost identical.
Rather than going with the Twinkie filling I created a few weeks ago, this time I decided to use whipped cream. The cream had a much more delicate texture which made the HoHos lighter and sweeter but the cream also meant the cakes have to be refrigerated if you’re planning on keeping them around for longer than a day or two.
Despite the challenge of making HoHos, this run of baking all things Hostess has been a blast. So far I’ve made Twinkies, Suzy Q’s, Ding Dongs and now Ho Hos. Coming up next, the fourth and final snack cake shall be Sno Balls.
Through the looking glass, last year brought us: Low-Fat Banana Bran Muffins.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in half
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Whipped Cream Filling
2-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Directions for Homemade Ho Hos:
Preparing the chocolate cake. Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment or wax paper. Spray paper with nonstick spray and lightly dust with flour.
Bring 2-inches of water to simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Combine chocolate chips, butter and water in a small heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set the bowl over the simmering water. Reduce heat to medium-low and heat until the butter is mostly melted and chocolate is starting to lose it’s shape; about 15 minutes. Don’t stir the mixture. Remove bowl from water. Unwrap and stir chocolate until smooth and glossy.
In a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour and salt. Set aside. Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer (or stand mixer with the whisk attachment) on medium speed to whisk the yolks for 15 seconds. Add 1/2 of the sugar and continue mixing until the egg yolks reach the ribbon stage. The ribbon stage is when the yolks leave a visible trail on the mixture’s surface when you pull out the whisk.
Add vanilla extract and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the mixture into a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining sugar and continue beating egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Stir melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the egg whites then sift the cocoa mixture over the egg mixture. Use a rubber spatula to quickly fold the dry ingredients together.
Pour cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake until center of the cake springs back when touched, about 4-8 minutes. Cool baked cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
While cake is cooling, lay a towel on the counter and sift 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder over the towel. Rub cocoa into the towel. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert the cooled cake onto the towel and remove the parchment paper. Roll cake, towel and all, along the long edge to for a jelly roll shape. Cool for 15 minutes.
While cake is cooling, prepare the whipped cream filling. Place whipping cream in a large mixing bowl and mix on high speed until the cream begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla extract and beat until the cream holds a stiff peak. Use immediately to fill the snack cakes.
Gently unroll the cooled cake. Hopefully, your cake won’t crack something fierce. If it does, this is where you can decide to make HoHo Sandwiches. If making sandwiches, spread whipped cream on half of the cooled cake.
Place the other half of the cooled cake on top of the whipped cream and transfer filled cake to a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut the cake into 2 by 3-inch rectangles. Transfer cut cakes to a wire rack set on a cookie sheet. Place cakes in the refrigerator to help the whipped cream harden while you prepare the chocolate coating.
In a small heat proof bowl, combine shortening and semisweet chocolate chips. Place over a small saucepan of simmering water and heat the chocolate mixture until chocolate is fully melted. Take cakes out of the refrigerator and use a mixing spoon to slowly drizzle melted chocolate over the cooled cakes. Store at room temperature for up to two days. HoHos will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.