While the fate of Twinkies is up in the air after Hostess announced its closing on Nov. 16, 2012, this recipe makes it easy for you to make them at home so that you'll never have to say goodbye.
Special thanks to Emily Jacobs of Sage Recipes for helping us test this recipe.
To make the Twinkie molds, fold a piece of aluminum foil together a couple of times and then and wrap around a spice jar or something that is approximately 6 inches long to make mini molds. The piece of aluminum foil should be thick enough so that it will stand up on its own when you make the edges. Place the molds on a baking sheet and spray each of them with nonstick oil.
For the batter, sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Cover to keep warm.
Reserve the egg yolks in a bowl and add the whites to the stand mixer. Beat the whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add 6 tablespoons of the sugar and the cream of tartar and continue to beat on high until the whites reach soft, moist peaks. When you get the desired consistency, transfer the egg whties to a large bowl and add the egg yolks to the stand mixer. Begin to beat the egg yolks on medium-high speed and gradually add the remaining tablespoons of the sugar. Beat the egg yolks until they become very thick and pale yellow in color, about 5 minutes. Add the egg whites back to the stand mixer but do not mix.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg whites and mix everything on low speed for just 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer, make a well in 1 side of the batter, and pour the warm milk mixture into the bowl. Fold gently with a large rubber spatula until the batter shows no trace of flour and the whites and yolks are evenly mixed.
Immediately scrape the batter into the prepared molds, filling each with about ¾-inch of batter. Bake until the cake tops are light brown and feel firm and spring back when touched, about 15 minutes.
While the Twinkies are cooling, make the filling. Beat together all of the ingredients for the filling until light and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag with a ¼-inch tip.
When the Twinkies are cool enough to handle, use a stick or a skewer to create three holes in the bottom of the Twinkies. Pipe the frosting into the holes of the Twinkies carefully, making sure not to overfill them and crack the cakes.