A while back when I was making stuffed cupcakes (Storm Troopers for the twins fifth birthday). I was explaining it to my Seattle muse, and she said that I should make Ding Dongs. I said that it seemed like stuffed cupcakes with chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. And she said “No, every bite needs to have all three components- cake, chocolate frosting, and filling”.
So I started to investigate Ding Dongs, and experiment with the best way to make them. And that is what I will describe in this article. Mindy says there are recipes that you make once for curiosity, or some other reason, but once you have made them, you will never make them again because they are just too much work. I think Ding Dongs might belong in that category. I found it best to spread the work over three or four days so that the various steps could cool and set before going forward.
And this recipe takes some specific equipment. I used a 2.5 inch biscuit cutter, a 1 inch cutter from the center of a doughnut cutter, my wide spaced wire racks and a couple piping bags. You could get away with a 3 inch biscuit cutter, but the smaller cutter should be at least 1.5 inches smaller. I say to use wide spaced wire cooling racks because you want the dripping chocolate to fall through and not get stuck on the rack. And while you could use tableware spoons to move the filling and ganache into the center of the Ding Dong, it is far easier with the piping bags.
Home-made Ding Dongs
- 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup buttermilk
*Measure the flour by using a spoon to fill the measuring cup; scooping the measuring cup directly into the flour will firmly pack it and result in too much flour.
- 10 oz. heavy cream
- 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 3.5 oz. marshmallow cream
- 3 Tablespoons butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- in a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and cocoa powder.
- In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
- Add the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition; scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add the flour mixture to the sugar/butter mixture about 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the buttermilk
- Pour the chocolate cake batter into the parchment lined baking pan and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean
- Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack
- Place the chocolate chips, butter and salt in a heatproof bowl.
- Bring the heavy cream to the boiling point, but do not boil it
- Pour the hot cram over the chocolate and let it set for a minute
- Stir the chocolate until all is melted and the mixture is smooth without any lumps
- Set aside to cool. When ready to use, it may be necessary to heat it up a small amount so that it flows easily.
- Place the marshmallow creme and butter in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar, mixing well until light and fluffy
- Take the cake out of the pan onto a nice flat surface; fold back the parchment paper.
- with the large biscuit cutter (2.5 inch) cut cake disks out of the cooled cake and set aside. I usually get 12-13 of these pucks from the cake.
- With the small cutter (1 inch) cut the center core out of each puck. Trim the core horizontally into three pieces; a top and bottom piece about 1/4 inch thick and the center piece which can go with the cake scraps. (See Cake Pops and Trifle for using the cake scraps)
- Place the bottom piece back into the puck and press it down back into place.
- Set the top piece and the cored puck aside until all the pucks are ready.
- Put a small amount of ganache onto the bottom piece in the puck; about 1-2 teaspoons. This is easiest with a piping bag. The ganache is to seal the bottom piece back into the puck so the filling doesn’t leak out around the edges of the bottom piece.
- After the ganache seal has cooled, pip the core of the puck full of filling up to about 1/4 inch of the top; place the top piece back on the puck.
- Place the pucks on a wire rack over a sheet pan to catch the drips. Spoon ganach onto the top of each puck, and smooth it over the edges to run down the sides. So not try to cover the sides at this time
- When the top ganache has cooled and hardened, turn the pucks over and repeat the spooning of ganache on the new top side.
- With a soft pastry brush, paint ganache onto the sides of the pucks where there has been no run down from the ganache on the top.
- Leave at room temperature for the ganache to set completely before serving.
Here is a photo of the homemade Ding Dong versus the commercially available Ding Dong. I was a little anxious to take the picture before the ganache had set and so you can see which is which by the chocolate streaks.
One of the experiments I tried was using foil instead of parchment paper to line the cake pan; it was a mistake. The cake came out more moist that it should have been, and tore when I tried to cut out the pucks.
I found that I could heat the heavy cream to a boiling point in the microwave, so I left it in the glass measuring cup and nuked it for 2:20 minutes. Most recipes say to put it into a sauce pan and heat it on the stove; that is just another pan to wash. To reheat the ganache, I nuke it in the microwave for about 15 seconds, and then stir it so the melted sides are mixed with the still cold middle of the container.
I discovered that in order to paint the sides of the pucks, I needed to leave space between the pucks. So as a result, I actually used two wire racks and sheet pans so the pucks were farther apart. It is important that the ganache flows easily; if it is not warm enough, it tends to be thick and stick more to itself than to the cake. Then, when a Ding Dong is picked up, the ganache wants to stay on the platter.
At some point in the future, I plan to make cupcakes out of this cake recipe, core and fill them with this filling recipe, and frost them with the chocolate ganache. I think people will be just as happy with them as with these Ding Dongs with chocolate ganache in every bite.