Homemade Ding Dongs

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If I were to reminisce about good times with my dad, I would think about him letting me drive his big red tractor, or sitting outside on the swing watching a distant thunderstorm, or sitting on the porch asking him how big airplanes or alligators are.  I’d also think about how he was very picky (and I’m sure he still is!) about how his spaghetti is cooked, which eventually encouraged me to cook perfect al dente pasta.  One of the sillier things I’d think about, though, is the love we had for Ding Dongs!

I’d imagine that a majority of you have just asked, “What is a Ding Dong?”!  Ding Dongs were manufactured by Hostess, which is now no longer operating as of just a few weeks ago; they are a little round chocolate cake coated in chocolate with a marshmallowy center.  They may also be known as Ring Dings or King Dons, depending on where in North America you live.  Originally, Ding Dongs were wrapped in aluminum foil and sold in a box of 12.  More recently however, they were individually wrapped in a white plastic package.

What is it that’s so silly about these Ding Dongs, my dad and I?  Well, we loved Ding Dongs (and Twinkies and Cupcakes, while we’re at it!) so we often had a box of them in the kitchen.  Because we loved Ding Dongs so much, we also always had lots of foil wrappers (as I mentioned, they were originally individually wrapped in aluminum foil), and those wrappers always ended up being crumpled into little foil balls that my dad and I would throw at each other!  We’d always pick up after ourselves, but one day we discovered a large number of those foil balls behind our big old Montgomery Ward television, ones which must have bounced off our heads or off the wall during a foil ball fight!  We had a big laugh at the pile of foil balls that we had unknowingly collected over the years!

It was the recent closure of Hostess that made my homemade version of Hostess Cupcakes the most popular recipe on my blog for a few days straight, and it was also the inspiration for me to make a homemade version of Ding Dongs.

This is a relatively easy recipe to prepare.  I’m not even going to provide a recipe in this post, but I’ll walk you through the how-to.

First, choose your favorite chocolate cake recipe (I wouldn’t recommend a box mix, as those cakes usually aren’t sturdy enough to hold their shape when cut).  You can prepare your cake in one of two ways; as cupcakes, or as a 9×13-inch cake.  In my case, I prepared them as cupcakes, but used cupcake liners that are flat, rather than pleated (like these).  If you chose the 9×13-inch cake method, use a 3-inch round cutter to cut circles from the cake once it is completely cooled.  If your cupcakes (or cake) have a large dome, just slice it off with a knife to get a flat top, then flip it over so that the flat bottom is facing up (so you’ll have a nice flat top to your faux Ding Dongs).

Next, choose a filling.  There are lots of faux Hostess filling recipes; you can choose from a 7-minute frosting, a frosting that uses Marshmallow Creme or Marshmallow Fluff, or take the easy route and simply fill it with plain Marshmallow Creme/Fluff!

Okay, I admit, I did it the easy way and used straight Marshmallow Fluff!  I have a special pastry tip to fill cupcakes, which I used to fill these cakes.  If you don’t have one of these, you can use the cone method, but I’d recommend cutting the cone shape out of the bottom of the cakes so that the top of them will stay nice and flat.

Lastly, if you’ve got 12 cakes like I did, melt around 300g of semi-sweet chocolate (say, maybe around 50% cocoa); if you made more or less cakes, adjust the amount of chocolate accordingly.  Other homemade Ding Dong recipes may use some oil or butter in the melted chocolate to soften it a bit, but I remember the chocolate coating on Ding Dongs as being hard (well, not *that* hard, but it did crack when I bit into it) so I opted for just plain chocolate.  This part is a little tricky, especially if you want to have a smooth coating of chocolate.  If you’ve cut your cakes, don’t dip them into the chocolate as the crumbs will go into the melted chocolate and you won’t have a smooth coating.  I used a spoon and poured the chocolate on top of the cakes, which I had sitting on a wire cooling rack.  After the chocolate had set, I carefully flipped them upside down and used the spoon to spread a layer of melted chocolate on the bottoms of the cakes.

For presentation purposes, I wrapped the cakes up in aluminum foil for that nostalgic feel.  It is, however, a good way to store them, as they might stick together if you just place them in a container without being individually wrapped up..

So, are you sad about Hostess having closed down?  What was your favorite Hostess snack?

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