for the sponge cake:
2 cups flour
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
for the cream filling:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
for the chocolate coating:
5 cups confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoon vanilla
for the cream filling:
In a small pan, mix flour with milk and boil until thick. Cool. Beat until fluffy and add other ingredients one at a time, beating well after each addition. Refrigerate 1 hour or up to 24. Note: if you make it the day before, you might want to beat it again before piping it into the cakes to ensure a fluffy texture. Also, the cream should be cold and rather stiff when you pipe it into the cake, the act of piping will soften it a bit so do not be tempted to let it warm up before filling.
for the sponge cake:
Grease 8 to 12 wells in a "cream canoe" pan. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, until it is very light and fluffy-almost at soft peaks. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Pour into prepared pans. Note: check the instructions on your pan, but I would recommend filling them about halfway, there is a lot of leavening in the the batter and you wouldn't want them to overflow.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cakes are just golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the center cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, invert to a wire rack and cool completely before filling. Use a pastry bag or cream filling gun (one comes with the pan I linked to) and fill three holes (chopsticks make good hole punchers, just be careful not to poke all the way to the other side and give a it a little wiggle so the inside hole is slightly bigger than the outside)on the underside of the cake with cream. Slightly overfill each hole, then use your thumb to tamp it in.
for the coating:
Combine powdered sugar, cocoa powder, butter, vanilla and boiling water in saucepan. Stir over low heat to mix well. Do not let it boil. Dip the bottoms of cooled, filled cakes in the chocolate then place on a wire rack over a bowl and pour the chocolate directly from the pan over the top of the cakes to coat the tops. Refill the pan with the chocolate that collects in the bowl.
Allow the cakes to drip over a wire rack with waxed paper underneath to catch the drips. Repeat if needed. Note: it seems like you are making a lot of glaze, but you lose a lot as they drip and dry and it is better to have too much than to run out before you are finished.
My thoughts:Today is my birthday (29! Oy!) and ever since I've known my husband he has made something special for my birthday. First it was a crazy bombe with 2 kinds of mousse for my 25th birthday then red velvet cupcakes, then vanilla bean cupcakes, last year's chocolate malt cupcakes and this year's chocodiles. Chocodiles are a cult classic only available in some areas (NOT Baltimore!) and we thought it would be fun to make a homemade version. I know we can't be the only ones who have wished that packaged snacks tasted as good as they looked. By making our own, they really do.
Making the cakes was a joint effort, I created the recipe and tweaked it while he did the actual mixing and baking. I think they turned out really well, not too gourmetish or fancy but a really fresh tasting step up from the prepackaged cakes. The cake was really light and fluffy and the cream filling was exactly the right texture: creamy but not oily or greasy.
Chocodiles, for those not in the know, are basically a chocolate covered Twinkie. Once sold all over the US, they are now only available in select cities on the West Coast and the subject of much debate and interest among the junk food glitterati. There is even a petition urging Hostess to bring Chocodiles back to the East Coast!
If you are more of a Twinkie person, this recipe would make an excellent homemade Twinkie, just skip the chocolate coating. It will be the best Twinkie you've ever had. The pinnacle of Twinkiedom.
Note: If you don't have a cream canoe pan, you could try a version using a traditional cupcake pan. I must say, it is well worth buying the actual pan. The cupcakes were perfectly golden brown and slid right out with no sticking.