Ah, slushy old Medford, how I’ve missed you! The Tufts campus seems slightly more formidable than before; the previously walkable cement pathways have been with slushy canals. Now, walking from building to building takes a certain degree of skill and blind courage. These deadly slush-puddles hearken back to the mine-laced paths of Vietnam that I read about in all those Tim O’Brien books. With weather like this, I think I’d take the Vietcong over a merciless Mother Nature.
Unfortunately it takes me days to get adjusted to my dorm bed, which is good news for all of you. With a week of sleepless nights ahead of me, I have all the time in the world to flog.
Growing up, I never really got the chance to indulge in mass-produced sweets. Sure, my mom would make me pancakes and muffins for breakfast, but she’d die before feeding me those saccharine cereals like Lucky Charms and Cocoa Krispies. When it came to packing me lunches for school, she would opt for homemade cookies or blood oranges rather than those Hostess or Little Debbie confections. Whatever the case, I’ve always enjoyed Hostess Cupcakes. The moist chocolate cake with the crème filling is so perfectly matched that it almost seems mundane. In an age when the average candy bar has twenty million things going on (pretzel wrapped in special dark chocolate nougat encased with caramel and milk chocolate), there’s something to be said for Hostess’s minimal design.
Here was my chance to remake the forbidden fruit of my childhood. But since I had grown up, it was only fitting that the cupcake did too. So I supersized it. The cake is eye-catching with those distinctive swirls and alters the chocolate-cake formula just enough to surprise all your dinner guests. It’s deliciously retro, with one bite transporting you back to a time when people were blissfully unaware of trans-fats and high fructose corn syrup.
Below you’ll find the assembly steps, and below those you’ll see the recipes. This idea is courtesy of Deb over at Smitten Kitchen
Step one, take your favorite chocolate cake recipe (like the absurdly easy and supremely delicious one-bowl Hershey Chocolate Cake)
*NOTE: If you’re using this cake recipe (and you should), then double the recipe and use two 9 inch pans
Step two. Once cakes have fully cooled, halve one cake horizontally. This should leave you with three cake layers—one full size, and two halved layers. I used unflavored dental floss to slice my cake.
Step three. Cut a four or five inch circle out of the center of the full-sized cake. Hold onto it for snacking, since you won’t be using it for the cake.
Step four. Carefully place one of the thin cake layers on whatever dish you plan on serving the cake. Then carefully line the doughnut shaped cake layer on top of that one.
Step five. Fill the cake layer with the marshmallow frosting (see below for recipe), making sure to leave about a half cup behind for decoration.
Step Six. Carefully place the other half-sized layer on top of the cake. At this point you can frost the cake with the chocolate ganache (again, see below)
Step Seven. Using a pastry bag (or the ol’ fashioned circumsized sandwich baggie trick), finish off the cake with that distinctive white squiggle. If you want to be historically accurate (I would’ve said anal, but that’s a word that should never appear in a cake recipe—ever), make sure to have seven full loops.
RECIPE NOTES: After making and serving this cake, I think that it would be easier to probably just fill the middle with the marshmallow frosting. That way everyone gets a uniform amount of the filling. If you want the appearance of a the Hostess cupcake when you halve the cake, you’re gonna have to do it the long way. Everyone who ate the cake loved it but said that they wanted more filling, so if you decide to make the cake, you might consider putting a dollop of the frosting on each person’s plate.
OTHER NOTE: Remember that discarded center part of the cake layer from step three? You can totally go all Russian Nested Doll (or Matryoshka doll) with this leftover and make a hostess cupcake with it. Just go through the same steps as before. It’s a tad bigger than a normal hostess cupcake but it’s manageable.
Hershey Chocolate Cake, doubled for your convenience
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cup sugars
8 eggs, at room temperature
22 ounces of hershey chocolate syrup (the contents of two 16oz cans or measured out from one of the BIG bottles)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing all the while. Then add chocolate syrup and vanilla.
Add the flour and mix until just barely combined. Don’t overbeat, or the cake will toughen.
Pour batter into the pan and bake for around 45 minutes, or until just set in the middle (test by placing a toothpick in the center, if it comes out with a few crumbs, it’s done). Let it cool thoroughly in the pan.
Crème Filling—Seven Minute Frosting
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Combine all the ingredients in a double boiler (simply a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water) and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy. This should take around 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Use frosting the day it is made.
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
Place cream sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil under medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Once the sugar has dissolved, add chocolate and whisk until the chocolate has melt. Once they’ve fully blended, add butter and whisk until smooth.
Transfer frosting to a bowl and let it cool (stirring it occasionally) until it is spreadable. If you want to hasten the cooling process, just pop it in the refridgerator.