Slab o’ bliss: Choco-Buzz

Alas, Hostess Choco-Bliss… I knew ye well.

Your rich, moist chocolate cake… your creamy lighter-chocolate filling… your fudge-like topping, with its signature striations…

Sigh… Gone the way of wax lips and bubblegum cigars. Snack cake ancient history. A minor blip in Hostess’ corporate memory.

But still longingly remembered by those of us who loved you.

When the blogging crew here at King Arthur – MaryJane, Susan, and me – gathered to divvy up assignments for this Snack Cake Smackdown, I knew my cake of choice had to be chocolate on chocolate on chocolate.

Twinkies? Go for it, MJ. Funny Bones? Meh; Susan, you’re all over that chocolate/PB thing.

Much as I love that creamy-fakey white filling in Hostess cupcakes and Drake’s Devil Dogs, I was willing to sacrifice it, at least temporarily, for creamy CHOCOLATE filling, a much-less ubiquitous offering. In fact, I’m not sure there’s ANY snack cake out there right now with chocolate filling – is there? Tell me if I’m mistaken, please!

So I was forced (enticed?) to go back to the past, into the mists of time… Back to the groovin’ 1970s. And the John Travolta, “Staying Alive” disco ’80s.

Back to Hostess Choco-Bliss. (DO NOT fail to click on the preceding link, especially if you were in middle school in the ’80s. If, like me, your primo snack-cake days were in the ’60s and ’70s, go here. Then come RIGHT back to this blog – promise?)

These chocolate cake/chocolate filling/chocolate frosting delights have no current equivalent in Snack Cake Land.

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Hostess Zingers probably come closest. They’ve got that same moist cake, that same corrugated fudge frosting… but WHITE filling. Sigh…

Gee, what a shame. I’ll have to re-create Choco-Bliss myself.

Choco-Buzz, here I come!

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Before we start, let me once again plug my favorite cocoa powder: Double Dutch Dark Cocoa, our blend of Dutch-process medium and black (super-roast) cocoas. It doesn’t LOOK dark; but boy oh boy, the chocolate treats you make with it…

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First, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix 1 cup melted butter and 1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa.

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Add 1 cup hot water. Stir till smooth, and set the mixture aside.

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In a separate bowl, mix the following:

2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

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Pour the cocoa mixture over the dry ingredients, stirring to blend. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt (low-fat is fine); 2 large eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

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Beat to make a smooth batter.

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Lightly grease a 9” x 13” cake pan; or line with parchment, and grease the parchment. I recommend the parchment here, especially if your 9” x 13” pan is prone to sticking; you have to be able to get this cake out of the pan in one non-crumbled piece.

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Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

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Bake the cake in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 minutes, or until it tests done. (You’ll smell the chocolate aroma, and the cake will begin to pull away from the edge of the pan). Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

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When the cake is completely cool, loosen its edges with a table knife or spatula.

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Turn it out onto a rack, and peel off the parchment. Slicker ’n a smelt, as they say in Maine.

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Let’s take a moment to make our first Choco-Buzz/Zinger comparison. Goal #1: Height of cake. Looks like we guessed just right.

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Next, the filling. Place the following in a microwave-safe bowl:

1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa, sifted
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

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Heat until the cream is very hot, and the chips have softened.

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Remove from the heat, and stir till the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, reheating briefly if necessary.

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Stir in the vanilla, and set aside.

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In a large bowl, beat together the following:

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Beat until fluffy. It’ll go through a crumbly stage; keep on beating and it’ll come together.

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Like this.

Can you use all butter, no shortening? I know some of you prefer not to use shortening. You can; the filling will be softer and not as stable at room temperature, and will taste somewhat different.

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Add half the chocolate mixture.

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Beat till smooth. See how this isn’t smooth? That’s because I thought I could get away with NOT sifting the confectioners’ sugar. Bad move; get out your sifter or sieve, and use it.

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Add  the remaining chocolate mixture…

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…and another 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted.

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Beat again until the filling is a fluffy, spreadable texture; adjust the consistency with a little more cream, if necessary.

Can you do this all at once? Like, adding all 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar to the butter and shortening, beating, then adding all the chocolate? I haven’t tried it, and I’m not sure it would work. The initial sugar/butter mixture would never come together, with that amount of sugar.

But you know what? If you want to possibly save yourself some steps and try the “all at once” method, go ahead – no need to ask my permission. And let us know how (if) it works out.

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Turn the cooled cake out of the pan, and cut it in half crosswise, to make two 9” x 6 1/2” rectangles.

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There’s that Zinger again. Looks like once we add the filling and frosting, we’ll be exactly the right height.

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Using a long serrated knife, slice through the middle of each rectangle to make two halves (a top and a bottom) suitable for filling.

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A giant spatula moves the layers around effortlessly.

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Here we are, top and bottom, ready for filling.

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Spread half the filling (about 14 ounces, 393g) on one layer.

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You can spread it to the edges with a spatula…

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…or use your wet fingers, which is much more effective. Ah, hands – the best baking tool we have!

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Position the top layer of cake atop the filling.

Repeat with the other half of the cake, and the remainder of the filling. We’re getting there…

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Next, the icing. Combine the following in a microwave-safe bowl:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream

Can you leave out the corn syrup? Well, the icing won’t be as shiny/spreadable. If you avoid corn syrup, try substituting honey; just be aware it may add its own faint taste.

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Microwave until the cream is very hot, and the chips have softened. Stir to combine, reheating briefly if necessary.

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Stir till smooth.

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Next, you can go one of two ways. For a dark-chocolate icing, sift 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder into a bowl. Add the chocolate mixture.

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Mix till smooth and shiny.

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Pour the icing atop the two filled cakes.

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For a lighter-chocolate icing, sift 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Add the chocolate mixture.

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Pour the icing atop the two filled cakes.

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Spread the icing to the edge of the cakes. We’re nearing the finish line…

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If you’re really into cloning, dip a fork in hot water, and run it through the icing to make Choco-Bliss’ signature grooved top. It won’t be the perfect, machine-made corrugation you’ll find on a Zinger; but it’ll be a nice approximation.

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Here are the two types of frosting: dark on the left, lighter on the right.

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Cut each cake into nine 2” x 3” snack cakes. You’ll have a total of 18 cakes.

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Zinger vs. homemade Choco-Buzz.

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Sorry, Zinger, you’re looking a little sad next to Choco-Buzz.

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Ready… set… enjoy!

I tell you, there’s a lot of steps to making these babies, but they are definitely MMM-MMM good! And if, like me, you’re still lamenting the demise of Choco-Bliss – you’ll find this an enjoyable project.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Choco-Buzz.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Hostess Zingers, package of 3, 4.25 oz. total, $1.39

Bake at home: Choco-Buzz, 5 oz. cake, 56¢

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Laura

    I made this recipe yesterday. If you are a chocolate lover (and I am!), this is the recipe for you. However, I struggled in a couple of places. First, this cake is very soft and if you don’t have a big spatula like shown in the photos, moving the layers after you’ve cut the cake in half crosswise is very challenging, especially if you want your finished product to look nice. Second, the icing for the top is more of a glaze than a frosting. I measured the ingredients and when it turned out so liquid-y, I actually made a second batch—same result. It tasted incredible, but the finished product didn’t look like I had hoped. I will make these again and tweak a couple of things to get a less messy looking finished product, but for taste, these are 5 star for sure!

    Reply
  2. Tonia

    I use the Wacky cake recipe to make chocolate cupcakes which I then fill with marshmallow filling (homemade marshmallow fluff if ambitious; store-bought beat w/butter & powdered sugar & vanilla if not) and then dip in chocolate ganache and pipe thin icing swirl on top for homemade Ding-Dongs/Hostess Cupcakes. And THAT’S my riff on a store bought snack cake! I’m going to have to try this, because — mmm-mmmm yummy!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I think that would work great! That is such an awesome mix, so moist! No substitutions needed. You may bake in a 9 x 13 and follow the recipes for the filling and frosting as directed. Elisabeth@KAF

  3. Bob

    Well, I’ve tried these twice and the cake fell apart both times. Apparently, I’m not the only one with this problem. Greasing the pan and turning it upside down might be a bad idea for this cake. Next time, I’ll use parchment paper and lift it out. If that fails too, I’ll switch to a different cake recipe.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sorry about that, Bob; I did see another reviewer had this issue. I wonder what caused it? Most people seem to do just fine with the recipe. Are you using cake flour or pastry flour? That would result in a more tender cake. At any rate, I hope you have better luck with the parchment. PJH

  4. Vickie

    I am confused with one part of the recipe. You make the filling and cover half the cake with it then put the other half of the cake on top and it says to cover with the other half of the filling. However I don’t see the other half of the filling added to the pictures. If you add the other half of the filling do you just pour the frosting on top of that?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This recipe makes two full size cakes. Your 9×13 cake is cut in half and then both halves are split and filled with the filling. Jon@KAF

  5. MemphM

    I just made these for a retirement party/lunch in my honor…They are just wonderful…lots of steps and I cut them up wrong but whose to know!
    I am so glad these worked for you! Happy retirement! More time to bake? Elisabeth

    Reply
  6. Betsy

    Have a question. Your filling and icing recipes both call for melting ingredients together in a microwave. I do not have one. How would I need to alter the recipe to accomplish these tasks in a double boiler on a stove top? Thanks

    Betsy, heat the ingredients in a double boiler over simmering water until the cream is very hot’ when the cream is hot, start stirring; when the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, it’s ready. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  7. Sandi3

    I just saw Twinkies at the “Hostess” store that had chocolate filling. I got all excited and bought a package, to try it, before I splurged on an entire box and I was glad that I did … the texture of the filling is all wrong, wrong, wrong! I won’t be buying those again. I guess it just goes to show you that when something is already “perfect”, you should just leave it alone 🙂

    Good strategy, Sandi, not buying the whole box before you taste-tested… I confess to enjoying the occasional classic Twinkie, though usually my tastes run more to chocolate. You’re right – let a Twinkie be a Twinkie, and leave the chocolate to Choco-Buzz! PJH

    Reply
  8. rllbtex

    Oh Heavens! Its really humid here today so I plan on making these late tonight when the humidity (and ac) are low!

    I have enough cocoa, KAF to make one last goody before ordering my stock supplies.

    Maybe cut the sweetness with some homemade vanilla ice cream (smirk).

    Happy Birthday!!!!!

    Texaswonder( aka rllbtex)

    Reply

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