Something about anything Little Debbie or Hostess always makes me slightly nostalgic. I know most people complain about terrible school lunch food, but from middle school until I could go off campus for lunch in high school, I LOVED school lunches. It could be because this was all before they started making school lunches healthy. I remember getting a box of chicken strips with honey mustard, a cup of fries, a large lemonade and a triple stack of freshly baked cookies for $5 in high school. What a deal! Ah, to have that metabolism again. In middle school I was more of a plastic-wrapped dessert, fries and lemonade type of person. I'm sure my mom is cringing at the thought that I spent my lunch money on that for so many years.
I feel like everyone I know had a very specific style to eating Ho Hos. I personally was a Swiss Cake Roll kinda person, but I'm pretty sure Hostess' Ho Hos are the exact same thing. I'm also quite certain I've had both in my lifetime. Anyway, if you just chomped right into one of these, they'd be about four bites total. It'd be like the iced Christmas trees that you could eat 14 of because they're practically air and icing. So, you had to make it a process.
My personal style was to break off the chocolate coating in sheets to enjoy that part first. Next, I unrolled one at a time and ate the chocolate and icing part wherever the cake would naturally break while unrolling. That's how you turn four bites of Ho Ho into a 10 minute activity.
I saw this cake and immediately knew I needed to try it. Unfortunately I realized my favorite part about Ho Hos was never the taste, it was the art of eating them. When you make a 13x9 cake...it's still just a cake. No chocolate sheets. No careful unrolling. What a letdown. On the bright side, this cake tastes much better. It also cuts perfectly, so it's easy to share and serve (unless you want the whole 13x9 to yourself). My only suggestion would be to make sure you use a flavorful chocolate cake for the base. You can use boxed cake mix, but make it a good one because the top and bottom layers hold the majority of the flavor. The middle is just a nice add-on to complement the others (still good, just a more subtle taste). Enjoy!
Recipe from Scrumptious and Sumptuous
Use either a boxed chocolate cake mix (18.25 ounces) or Make a Chocolate Cake from Scratch (adapted from Hershey’s Chocolate Cake):
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. (7.45 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp.Hershey’s cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/2 tsp. espresso powder (optional, but it helps deepen the chocolate flavor)
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 5 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tbsp. whole milk
- 2 tbsp. hot water
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- To make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 9 x 13-inch brownie pan (mine is 9 x 13 x 1.5 inches). If using boxed cake mix, use a larger jellyroll pan, 10 x 15 inches. If you have the larger jellyroll pan and make the cake from scratch, use the full Hershey’s cake recipe, so check the original link to Hershey’s. I altered it to fit the smaller pan.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Add milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla; beat on medium speed with mixer for 2 minutes.
- Stir in boiling water. Batter will be thin. Pour batter into prepared pans.
- Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake before adding other layers.
- To make cream filling: Combine the milk and flour in a small saucepan; cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding, 5-8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
- Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the sugar, butter, and shortening until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the cooled flour/milk mixture; beat on high for 7 minutes.
- Spread onto the cooled cake. Refrigerate until set. (I didn’t alter the ingredient measurements to fit the smaller 9 x 13 cake, so you’ll end up with some extra cream.)
- To make icing: Melt chocolate using the double boiler method by placing a heatproof bowl over a pan filled with water that reaches just below the bowl and heat the water to a simmer, not a boil. Alternatively, melt in the microwave by heating in 15-30 second increments, stirring between each increment, until melted. Cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, use electric mixer on medium-high speed to mix together powdered sugar, melted/cooled butter, melted/cooled chocolate, milk, hot water, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.
- Spread icing over cream filling.
- Serve either at room temperature or cold, from refrigerator.