Homemade Healthy(er) Twinkies


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Twinkies bring up a very special memory for me.  The only time we ever got Twinkies when I was little was when we needed to pack a lunch on school field trip days. Therefore, about two days each year, my mom bought my brother and me a Twinkie, and packed it in our sack lunch – along with a cold grape soda wrapped in tin foil to keep it cold.  Such fun memories!! (And the only real reason I liked field trips.) :)

So here we are, over thirty years later, and about three years after the first healthier Twinkie recipe request I received.  Obviously, this recipe make-over really had me stumped.  While I had an idea about how to make a whole wheat spongy cake, I had no idea how to make a healthier cream filling.  So when one reader, Stacy, left a comment a couple of weeks ago on the Redless Velvet Cake post, sharing a recipe that she said tasted “like Twinkie filling” – I tried it right away. 

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Unbelievable.  It really does taste like the Twinkie filling I remember from back in the day.  Upon tasting it, I suddenly had the urge to get a grape soda, climb onto a loud school bus, and take a trip to a museum.  (But not really.) 

I will admit that it was harder than I thought it would be to duplicate the airy, empty-calorie cake part of a Twinkie.  Regardless, these “Twinkies” taste delicious and were a fun treat for my family.  My kids devoured them!

Homemade Healthy(er) Twinkies

2 eggs
1 cup sucanat
1 cup whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground flour from hard white wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter

In a bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer for about four minutes or until thick.  Gradually add sucanat, beating for an additional 4 minutes.  (Yes, I know, lots of beating.  That’s how it becomes spongy, light, and airy.)

Add flour and baking powder, beating until just combined.  Heat milk and butter on the stove until butter melts.  Add milk mixture to batter, beating until combined. 

Pour batter into baking pan, and bake in a 350° oven for 20 minutes.  (I used a cool Flexipan that I’d gotten from Demarle.  Muffin tins would work great, or small loaf pans.)  Allow cakes to cool completely before filling.

Twinkie Filling

3 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sucanat
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Palm Shortening or softened butter

Cook milk and flour, stirring constantly until mixture is very thick.  Set aside to cool.  Whip milk mixture with sucanat until sucanat has dissolved. 

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Add palm shortening and vanilla and whip until light and fluffy.

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Check it out!  Stick your finger in and taste it…just like Twinkie Filling!  (Except better.  Of course.)

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To fill your Twinkies:

Slide a long knife through each cake – just to make an opening.

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Put Twinkie Filling into a frosting bag with a large, open tip.  Place the tip into the slit in the cake and squeeze to fill.  (I found that putting some in each end of the Twinkie worked best to fill the Twinkie evenly.
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When I called the boys in for the treat, it is a fact that my two youngest asked, “Twinkies?  What are Twinkies?”  I guess they’ll never know – except for what they’ve experienced with this healthified version.  :)

Once I explained “Twinkies” to the boys, Malachi said, “Oh!  Is this that treat Grammy used to give you on trips?”  Yes indeed.  {sniff}  I’m so glad he remembered that I had told him the Twinkie story. 

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In case you didn’t already figure this out by reading through the above instructions, Homemade Healthy(er) Twinkies are a little bit of a “high maintenance” recipe.  This type of recipe did not make it into my Oh, For Real book.  Only recipes that can be made quickly and easily made that book!  But hey, this Twinkie recipe is still a keeper.  It’s lots of fun and a very special treat to make!

Think you’ll give these a try?  Have any fun Twinkie memories to share?

Comments

  1. Christi says

    I think I might just frost these little cakes with the filling because I am lazy!! :) We used to toast Twinkies in college, and they were AWESOME! Breakfast of Champions!! :)

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  2. says

    Oh my! Those look wonderful. I will have to book mark this and try it. I don’t have mini muffin pans, but I could use a cupcake or something.

    You know, I just found a website with all natural food dyes. I ordered some of each. They have red for that Red Velvet cake. I think it’s made with beet juice.

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  3. Sherri says

    As soon as I saw this , I jumped up, ran into the kitchen ,and started on this recipe! the twinkies are in the oven right now :) I know its not a “healthy” breakfast ( like spinach smoothies and eggs ) ,but we will be having this for our breakfast this morning!! thanks for the GREAT recipe!!

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  4. Joy says

    I’m thinking this filling would be great piped into CHOCOLATE cake, too (a healthy “Ding Dong?”) Just wanted to tell you I have found Kamut to be a lighter grain that I like better than wheat for things like shortcake and sugar cookies. It’s still a whole grain flour, but lighter in color and flavor. I buy it from our co-op, so not sure where else to find it, but it might be worth looking into!

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  5. Ashley says

    I’m thinking of all those Rocky Top strawberry cans of pop we drank growing up – and little debbie cakes. They were a staple in our special sack lunches too. Fun memories.

    I’m sure your mom was fabulously fun. I love the tin foil. It will be interesting to see our kids memories of those little things we do without really thinking about it! Blessings, Laura. Have a great day.

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  6. Rhetta says

    I tasted my very first Twinkie on an elementary school field trip to Greenfield Village (Dearborn, MI), and I was hooked! I’m a grandma now, so you can imagine how many years ago this was. Thanks for the healthier version! I just might have to introduce my grandkiddos to the wonder of a Twinkie–the no-guilt version at that.

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  7. Lisa says

    One other thought on making these a bit less maintenance, would be to make cupcakes from the cake batter and just poke the tip of the frosting bag in the bottom side of the twinkie and fill the centers (or the side would work too). I’ve done this with chocolate cupcakes to replicate the hostess cupcakes once in a while for special treats. Only with those you can poke in the top side and then frost as usual, which hides the hole. Anyway, just a thought to streamline them a bit!

    I can probably count the times on one hand that I’ve had twinkies during my life. My kids, too, have no idea what twinkies are?!?! A little part of me feels really good about that! :)

    Thanks, Laura for another wonderful recipe to try! :)

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  8. April Smith says

    *Tsk….I have so much to do today, and now my list includes making these “Twinkies” for an after-school snack for my princesses….. I love it when I surprise them with something that makes them say, “COOL!!!” SUCH a great feeling :)

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  9. Lyn says

    Awesome!! I just received a set of Twinkie baking pans. Each pan will make 8 Twinkles. PerfectO! This will be a winning recipe in my husbands lunch box. Blessings!! :) THANK YOU!!

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  10. Tracy says

    I grew up mostly without twinkies, because I was overseas–so I don’t really know what all the different ones are called, but in college I liked the chocolate ones that were shaped like this, but with chocolate cake and white, creamy filling. Could this recipe be adapted to make those? Or would it be better to use a healthier version of southern whoopie pies, and make this filling? Someone advise me, please.

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  11. barb powers says

    May i suggest using a “7 minute frosting”for the twinkies filling? I’d say it’s the closest match I’ve ever tasted. Egg whites and heated sugar :)

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    barb powers Reply:

    Also, I must say, your timing is perfect with the recent closing of Hostess company; you cannot even buy them any longer.

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  12. Kristin says

    We made homemade Twinkies for use in school lunches when I was a kid. We made a cake and spread the batter evenly over 2 rectangle pans. After baking we sandwiched the frosting between the two layers, then cut it into rectangle shaped pieces. It’s not quite the same shape, but you do get more frosting per bite :)

    In order to get the Twinkie like flavor and consistency in the filling, it is best to use equal parts butter (for flavor) and shortening (for airiness). Though truth be told, back in the 80′s we probably used equal parts margarine and Crisco, LOL Now, I make my frosting with butter, palm shortening and organic sugar. Also, my recipe, calls for 4 TABLESPOONS Flour, 1 cup of milk and 1 1/2 TEASPOONS VANILLA.

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  13. Gina says

    Oh this totally brought up memories I had forgotten about! I use to get these at our end of year school picnic. They’d give everyone a snack lunch and we’d go outside and fly kites and play games and have a picnic. I never had any sort of Hostess treat before so I remember thinking it was a big deal.

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  14. Lyn says

    Hmmm mine did not quite turn out. I will keep working on this. I think my mistake was in whipping the eggs and sucanat. They taste good but or heavy in texture not light enough.
    Practice makes perfect…and at least it is fun practice. :)

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  15. Becky says

    HELP! My cupcakes turned out great … but the filling is to runny. Anyone else have this issue? I cooked the flour & milk and that was VERY thick, then added the sucanat, vanilla and oil (I used half butter & half coconut oil). I just sat it in the fridge hoping it would thicken. Any ideas what I did wrong?

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    Becky Reply:

    Well … I put the filling in the fridge for awhile and then
    tried whipping it again and it whipped right up. Figuring that
    my milk / flour mixture was still too warm and my butter / oil
    were too melted. These are YUMMY! I doubled this recipe and it
    made 42 cupcakes (3/4 full). I have a bunch of filling left so
    I probably could have not doubled the filling and still had plenty.

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  16. Erica says

    Thank you I trying to think of some healthy treats to put in my daughter lunchbox so she feels like she g some of the fun food her friends are eating.

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