Just for the record, I think this dark, devilish and creamy cake is what you might imagine a Ding Dong would be if you were in heaven; if it were actually made for YOU by Dorie Greenspan and if it were made with Chuao Chocolate and served to you within hours of it coming out of the oven. That is how my family enjoyed this crazy, amazingly soft, chocolaty, cream-filled and frosted cake (minus the Dorie Greenspan part—ah well).
My dad, however, thinks it tastes like an utterly perfect Suzy Q. “Suzy Q? I don’t remember those,” I tell him as I make him feel ten years older. Low blow, I think. This is a man who spent my teen years with a license plate holder that read, “I’d rather be at a Boingo concert,” and who is begging my younger brother to dye his grey hair so that he, my dad, does not appear old enough to have a son with grey hair.
But please dear reader, don’t ask me what a Ding Dong is, because then I might scream and faint because I, like my father, am trying to hang on tightly to my coolness and youth (stop laughing those who know me). And if my kids are out there somewhere reading this, please don’t ever ask me AGAIN what a busy signal is when it rudely blares as you try to make your call. Apparently, busy signals from telephones are a thing of the past. Who knew?
Why do those totally awesome Eighties songs get announced on my car radio (no, I don’t have satellite radio) as Classic Rock? What the heck has happened here? I feel like Bill and Ted on a crazy adventure through life, while I look back and can’t believe that the candy I ate as a teen is now “retro”, the leggings are making a comeback (they were gone?!), and teens have no idea that Arnie was actually first the Terminator before he was our governator.
Oh well. I think I am doing fine trying to stay young as I blog, text and Facebook my bff’s. I’m doing my best to convince my kids, and perhaps myself, that I am keeping up with the times so they don’t have to die of embarrassment as they waltz their friends through our door (and kitchen).
If you feel like a little trip down memory lane, down the Hostess aisle of the store, then please make this cake. I know, these Hostess “gems” are actually still being made, but my kids don’t know what they are (thankfully) and I believe today’s mom is a lot more on top of the whole health bandwagon. Gone are the days of kids ripping open their lunches to see what foil wrapped, plastic wrapped or cream-filled surprise was awaiting them.
If you have no idea what one of these Hostess “delights” tastes like, make this cake anyway because it will be your new favorite. How can you beat a dark, rich devil’s food cake coupled with a creamy marshmallow-y filling? I just don’t think you can.
Recipe heads up: You will need a candy thermometer for the frosting. If you don’t have one, simply make a creamcheese buttercream instead. It will be different than this one, but delicious.
Inside-Out Ding Dong Cake (My title, not Dorie’s)
Changed a smidge from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
*Chef’s note: I personally would make 1.5 times this recipe if you want enough crumbs to sprinkle on top of the cake. You can pour the batter into three cake pans or two pans and six cupcake liners in a muffin pan. In her book, Dorie suggests cutting two 8 inch layers in half and using three of the four layers for the cake and one layer for the crumbs. I didn’t find there was enough cake to use for crumbs when using one single recipe.
1 1/3 c. all purpose flour loosely scooped
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. BEST QUALITY you can get your hands on cocoa powder, I used Chuao and it made a HUGE difference.
1 stick + 1/4 stick softened unsalted butter (just barely softened, not melted)
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 t. pure vanilla extract
2 oz. melted bittersweet chocolate, brought to room temperature (important)
1/2 c. buttermilk or whole milk, room temperature (low-fat could work in a pinch)
1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips or finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 c. sugar
1 c. water
3/4 t. cream of tartar
4 egg whites or 1/2 c. of egg whites, room temperature
1 T. pure vanilla extract I would love to have infused vanilla bean into the sugar water and used only one t. of the extract for better vanilla flavor, but I haven’t experimented with this yet)
For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two eight inch cake pans with butter and then place a tablespoon of flour in each cake pan and tap the flour around the pan. Tap the excess flour out over the sink. You may also want to cut parchment paper rounds and place in the bottom of the pans and then grease and flour on top of the parchment paper as well.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through salt. Then, in the bowl of stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars with the paddle attachment or with a hand beater on medium speed. Then add the vanilla and cream together. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating a minute in between each egg on medium speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the melted BUT COOLED bittersweet chocolate to the butter mixture. If you add the chocolate hot, it will curdle your eggs. Beat on medium until it looks creamy and chocolaty.
Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, mix for a few seconds, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix again. Continue with this until all of the dry ingredients and buttermilk have been added. Finally, slowly pour in the boiling water a little at a time, mixing on LOW speed so boiling water does not splatter on you. Scrape the sides of the bowl often, making sure the batter at the bottom of the bowl is getting incorporated adequately. Once the batter is mixed well, add the 1/2 c. of chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips and fold in with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and tap the pans to release any bubbles. You ca smooth out the batter with your rubber spatula if necessary. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and the cake is springy but slightly firm to the touch. Cool for ten minutes on top of the stove in the pans. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely.
For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the egg whites so they are ready when needed. In a medium sauce pan, place the sugar and water, leaving a few tablespoons of water in the liquid measuring cup. Then add the cream of tartar to the water that’s left in the cup and mix with a fork. This helps the cream of tartar to adequately dissolve and not clump when poured into the pan. Pour in the cream of tartar into the pan and mix with a wooden spoon, dissolving the sugar. Turn pan on medium-high heat until the mixture is boiling. Put a lid on the pan and boil on medium-high for three minutes. Make sure to use a candy thermometer for this frosting.
When the temperature reaches 235 degrees Fahrenheit, begin beating the egg whites in the stand mixer on medium and then high speed using the balloon whip attachment. When the mixture on the stove gets to 242 degrees, it is done and soft white peaks should have formed in your egg whites by this point. Turn your mixer down to low and slowly pour the hot sugar between the beater and the bowl in continuous motion. Do not scrape down the bowl at any point this frosting process.
Once your hot sugar has been incorporated into the mixing bowl, turn your mixer up to medium and let beat for 5 minutes (at least). The frosting is done when it becomes room temperature and it is soft and creamy like a marshmallow type cream (but not sticky).
Assembling the cake: Slice both 8 inch layers in half, horizontally. Place the bottom layer on your cake stand or plate, lined with some wax paper or aluminum foil at the edges of the plate. Frost the bottom layer thickly, then place the next layer and repeat until you have a THREE layer cake frosted on top and the sides.
For the fourth layer, crumble it into tiny crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the cake. Take a handful of crumbs and press your hand into the sides of the cake and repeat until the sides of the cake are covered with cake crumbs.