donut pan idea no. 53: donut-shaped twinkies

I've been sitting on this idea for a long time now. DONUT-SHAPED TWINKIES! I am so glad I finally gave them a shot. I did a lot of research and made one critical change to this recipe adaptation by the New York Times, and they actually taste very much like Twinkies, BUT BETTER!

It's always important to me to have a solid (or super-fun) reason to use the donut pans and shape in each of these projects. With the Twinkies, the donut shape is both super-fun and super-practical. Most of the Twinkie recipes you'll find will have you crafting custom shaped pans out of tin foil wrapped around a spice bottle or the like. Not necessary, the donut pans work perfectly!

Read more by clicking "read more" below!

This recipe makes 16 donut-shaped Twinkies. For the cake you will need 1/2 c. cake flour, 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tbsp. milk, 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 5 large eggs (separated, at room temperature), 12 tbsp. sugar and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar. For the filling you will need 6 tbsp. unsalted butter (room temperature), 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 3/4 c. marshmallow creme (fluff or Jet-Puffed both work), and 2-4 tbsp. heavy cream. You will also need baking spray (I used Pam brand) for the pans, and a pastry bag with a small round tip to pipe the filling into the cakes.

For the cakes:

For the filling:

Start by preheating your oven to 350º. Coat your baking pans (16 donut cavities total) thoroughly with baking spray and set aside.

Whisk the two flours, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside as well.

Heat the butter and milk on low heat until butter has melted. Remove the pan from heat, stir in vanilla, then cover to keep warm.

Pour the room temperature egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer.

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Keep mixing and one at a time add SIX tbsp. sugar and the cream of tartar to the egg whites. Continue to beat until the egg whites form soft peaks.

Using a rubber spatula, gently transfer the egg white/sugar mixture to another bowl. Add the egg yolks to the stand mixer bowl (you do not need to clean it first) and beat with the remaining six tbsp. of sugar for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is quite thick and light yellow in color. 

Next, add the beaten egg white mixture back into the mixer bowl on top of the egg yolks but do not mix. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the top off the egg whites. Mix on low for just ten seconds. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer base and pour in the melted butter mixture. Fold gently with 8-10 strokes until everything is just combined.

The batter is now ready for the donut pans. I found that the butter kept separating out, so after filling two or three donut pan cavities, give it a quick stroke with your rubber spatula to reincorporate the ingredients. I used a pastry bag with no tip to fill the pans, but I don't recommend it. It's a fairly loose batter, better to spoon or pour into the pans if you can.

Bake at 350º for 13-16 minutes, until light golden brown and firm. The cakes should spring back if you press your finger lightly down on the tops. Keep an eye on them starting at 11-12 minutes to be sure they don't get too dark.

Remove pans from the oven and set on cooling racks. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then work gently around the edges with a dull butter knife or a thin handle end of a spoon or fork until they can easily be pried out. Flip the cakes over and set back down on pans (as opposed to racks to avoid imprinted lines) as shown until they cool completely.

If some of your cakes are a little crispy and don't completely taste like Twinkie cake, don't worry. I accidentally figured out the trick to the almost perfect replica of a real Twinkie. Read on!

For the filling, beat together the remaining powdered sugar, the marshmallow creme and the 6 tbsp. room temperature butter using a hand or stand mixer. Add in the heavy cream a tablespoon at a time while still beating until the filling becomes frosting-like in consistency. Too thick and you won't be able to pipe it into the cakes, too loose and you'll just get a mess. I used about 4 tbsp. heavy cream to get it just right. 

Using a chopstick, poke three holes in the cakes, evenly spaced around the flat sides. The holes should go off to the side in either direction as far as they can without breaking the cake, to provide lots of room for the filling!

Using a pastry bag with a small round tip, fill each hole in either direction with a squeeze of filling. Fill slowly and be aware that excess filling is going to come back out of the holes. Original Twinkies did that too, so it's okay if a little filling peeks out the top of each hole.

Now, here's my big trick to make these homemade donut-shaped Twinkies taste almost identical to the originals. Don't eat them right away. Well, of course try one, but pack the rest up with wax paper between each layer in a container, seal tightly with a lid, and let sit for 1-2 hours at room temperature. The moisture magic happens in the container. The cakes lose their crustiness and they become soft, creme-filled snack cakes just like the originals. They are amazing. You gotta trust me and try these. Big crowd pleasers!


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