Twinkies: It's what's for dinner

Interstate Bakeries Corporation via PRNewsFoto/AP

I thought I was indulging in exotic, perhaps ironic, fare when I sampled fried Twinkies at the Woodstock Fair a few years back.

I was wrong. Dead wrong.

You want exotic? Try Twinkie Love Potion #75, a drinkable Twinkie recipe that marries vanilla ice cream, strawberries and two Twinkies.

Prefer savory spongecake? Seek ye Twinkies in a Blanket: literally fried sausage links stuffed into a Twinkie (with the top cut off, naturally). That's it.

Now that Hostess has announced that it must shut down operations nationwide as a result of rising costs, labor turmoil and other management snafus, it seems likely that Twinkies will be celebrated and cherished as something American as apple pie. The Internet is already mourning the death of Twinkie the Kid, that happy cowboy Twinkie-Man on the cake packages who charmed the sweet-teethed into eating ... well, him ... for years. He may yet join Elvis in the pantheon of beloved Americans.

Hostess headed to bankruptcy court earlier this week and was sent back to the union-negotiating drawing board by the judge. And even if talks turn sour, Hostess may yet survive to supply the masses with spongecake and other goodies should a buyer emerge. The Associated Press reports that Hostess received more than a few inquiries from buyers, among them, Flowers Foods, which makes - what else? - Tastykakes. Hostess has not confirmed who's barking up its cream-filled tree.

So, with the very long shelf-lives of Twinkies et al still in the balance, let us give them fitting preparation going forward. Don't just eat them straight from the package, consider them an ingredient - a player in the symphony of your next dinner or dessert or dessert-as-dinner.

Naturally, we've included a Twinkie-plus-turkey recipe just in time for Thanksgiving.

Twinkling Turkey

From "The Twinkies Cookbook: An Inventive and Unexpected Recipe Collection from Hostess"

Serves 15 to 20.

1 (8 1/2 ounce) package yellow corn muffin mix, prepared and baked according to package instructions

6 Twinkies halves lengthwise

1 (14-18-pound) turkey

1 tart apple, peeled, cored and diced

1/4 cup honey

Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Scrape the cream filling out of the Twinkies with a small spoon and reserve in small bowl.

Cut the Twinkie pastry into cubes and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Rinse the turkey. Crumble muffins into a bowl, add the apple and toasted Twinkies and mix lightly. Loosely stuff the mixture into the turkey and truss the legs. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan. Roast the turkey for 12 to 15 minutes per pound, until the thigh temperature reaches 175 degrees to 180 degrees and the juices run clear.

In a small bowl, combine the honey with the reserved cream filling and mix well. Brush the turkey with the honey mixture during the last 10 to 15 minutes of roasting time.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let stand for 20 minutes before carving.

Twinkie Weiner Sandwich

Inspired by the movie "UHF," recreated (with tongue in cheek) and posted to allrecipes.com.

4 hot dogs

4 cream-filled sponge snack cakes (such as Twinkies)

4 (4 inch) squirts of pressurized canned cheese, or to taste

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add hot dogs, and boil until thoroughly hot, about 5 minutes; drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile, unwrap the snack cakes, and place onto a cutting board, upside-down. Cut halfway through the bottoms of the snack cakes with a small, serrated knife to create "buns" for the hot dogs.

Blot the hot dogs with a paper towel to remove excess water and place a hot dog inside each "bun". Remove the protective top from the can of cheese, and hold the nozzle close to, but not touching, the exposed side of the hot dog. Dispense cheese by decisively pressing the nozzle towards the hot dog and slowly drawing the tip along the hot dog in a straight line, or decorative pattern of your choice.

Twinkie Pie

By Sandra Spencer as posted to PaulaDeen.com

½ box Twinkies

1 large can crushed pineapple

½ cup sugar

1 large box of vanilla instant pudding, prepared

1 container whipped topping

4 bananas

Chopped pecans, optional

Maraschino cherries, optional

Line 13- by 9-inch pan with Twinkies. Mix sugar and pineapple together in a pan and bring to a boil. Pour over twinkies. Cool slightly. Spread pudding over pineapple mixture. Slice bananas and place over pudding. Top with whipped topping.

Optional: top with cherries and chopped pecans. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Bring Hostess home

Recipes to make your own actual Twinkie-style cakes abound online. This one came up frequently, and the Today show featured it when Twinkies celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2005.

'Twinkies'

Recipe by Todd Wilbur

For the cake:

Non-stick spray

4 egg whites

One 16-ounce box golden pound cake mix

2/3 cup water

For the filling:

2 teaspoons very hot water

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups marshmallow creme (one 7-ounce jar)

1/2 cup shortening

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

You will need a spice bottle, approximately the size of a Twinkie, 10 12- by 14-inch pieces of aluminum foil, a cake decorator or pastry bag, and a chopstick.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Fold each piece of aluminum foil in half twice. Wrap the folded foil around the spice bottle to create a mold. Leave the top of the mold open for pouring in the batter. Make 10 of these molds and arrange them on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan. Grease the inside of each mold with a light coating of non-stick spray.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. In a separate bowl combine cake mix with water and beat until thoroughly blended (about 2 minutes). Fold egg whites into the cake batter and slowly combine until completely mixed.

Pour the batter into the molds, filling each one about 3/4 of an inch. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.

For the filling, combine salt with the hot water in a small bowl and stir until salt is dissolved. Let this mixture cool.

Combine the marshmallow creme, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and mix well with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy.

Add the salt solution to the filling mixture and combine.

When the cakes are done and cooled, use a skewer or chopstick to make three holes in the bottom of each one. Move the stick around inside of each cake to create space for the filling.

Using a cake decorator or pastry bag, inject each cake with filling through all three holes.

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