gluten-free Ho-Hos

gluten-free ho-hos

gluten-free ho-hos


Do you remember begging your mom to put these in your lunch? Hostess Snack Cakes? Maybe you wanted Twinkies or Ding Dongs or Tiger Tails... but they're really all the same thing, right? Tons of preservatives, almost sickeningly sweet, can survive a nuclear war... but oh-so delicious. According to Hostess, Ho-Hos are "so sweet, we had to name them twice."

Well, I do remember really wanting these rolls of goodness, but my son doesn't. He's never had them before. Ever. Last I checked, Hostess hadn't really cashed in on the big gluten-free food trend. Sooooo, challenge accepted!

I found this recipe in Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery cookbook, so you already know that it's not quite the same thing as the mass-produced Hostess version. But, the gist of it is the same. Chocolate cake rolled together in a spiral with whipped cream and coated with chocolate.

Keller's recipe calls for very little flour to begin with, so I went with a 1:1 substitution of gluten-free flour for the regular flour specified in the recipe. Annnnd, overall, it turned out. The cake seemed kind of overly-moist and sticky when I peeled it off the Silpat and parchment paper. That said, it tasted spot-on, so try it with my flour or try it with your GF flour blend... just be sure your flour blend contains xanthan gum.

Don't be intimidated by the tempering chocolate step. Ok, ok, ok... you can be intimidated by it. But, I know you can do it. I was definitely anxious about messing it up, adding water to the melted chocolate and wasting an entire bag of chocolate chips... but it worked out. And, I learned something new. Actually, I learned two new pastry techniques from this recipe-- how to temper chocolate and how to stabilize whipped cream. I am SO practically a pastry chef!

This is the year of "yes" for me. So, say "yes" to the challenge of learning a new skill, enjoy the challenge and then enjoy your just desserts. (Ha-ha, get it? Mom joke!) 

Ho-Hos (This Time, GF and Fancier), serves 6ish

  • 33 grams gluten-free flour
  • 25 grams almond flour (be sure it is GF, I like Bob's Red Mill)
  • 16 grams unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder (Droste or Guittard are great)
  • 123 grams eggs, a little less than 3 large eggs
  • 58 grams egg yolks, 2 large egg yolks
  • 134 grams granulated sugar, divided
  • 74 grams egg whites, a little less than 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup + 2 TBSPS heavy cream
  • 2 tsps powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps cold water
  • 1/2 tsp gelatin
  • 1- 10 oz bag of Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1- 4 oz bar Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Bar

This is a two-day recipe, so plan accordingly. On Day 1, you'll make the chocolate cake, the stabilized whipped cream, and roll your Ho-Hos. On Day 2, you'll temper the chocolate and add the chocolate coating.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with Silpat. If you use parchment paper instead, be sure to spray both sides of the parchment with a light film of non-stick spray.

Add gluten-free flour to a medium-sized bowl. Sift in almond flour and cocoa powder. Whisk gently to combine and set aside. Onto the eggs!

Combine eggs, yolks, and 111 grams of granulated sugar in the mixing bowl of your Kitchen Aid. Using the whisk attachment, mix on 4 (medium-low) for about a minute to combine. Once combined, increase the speed to 6 (medium) and let the machine do the work for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to 8 (medium-high) for about another 5 minutes until the mixture is thickened. Transfer the contents of the bowl to another medium-sized bowl and thoroughly wash and dry the stand mixer's bowl and whisk.

Add egg whites to the clean & dry Kitchen Aid bowl and whisk on 6 (medium) for about 45 seconds or until the whites have gotten foamy. Reduce the speed and slowly add the remaining 23 grams of granulated sugar. Increase the speed to 8 (medium-high) for about 2 minutes, until the whites form soft peaks and are glossy.

Now, you get to combine everything.... carefully.  In two additions, fold the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture. Next fold in the egg whites, also in two additions. Pour the batter out onto your prepared sheet pan, spreading it out as evenly as you can with a spatula. 

Bake for about 15 minutes, until the center springs back at a gentle touch or a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cake cools, it's time to make the stabilized whipped cream. Thoroughly wash and dry the bowl and whisk attachment of your stand mixer... again. Last time, I swear. Fill a small bowl with 2 teaspoons of cold water. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of gelatin over the surface of the water and let it "bloom" for 5 minutes. Just let it sit there. Meanwhile, combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in your Kitchen Aid bowl. Beat on 6 (medium) for about a minute to thicken up the mixture. Pause. Go back to your water-gelatin bowl. If it's been about 5 minutes, it should look slightly solidified. Pop that bowl in the microwave and heat for about 10 seconds on high until the mixture turns back into a liquid. 

Flip the Kitchen Aid up to 8 or 10 (medium-high or high) and slowly drizzle in the melted gelatin. Beat until you see medium-stiff peaks. It doesn't take too long, so stick around. Ta-da, you just made stabilized whipped cream! This recipe has you spread the whipped cream across the chocolate cake, but you could pipe stabilized whipped cream onto a pie and it will not run. It's a commercial bakery and diner secret. Shhhh.....

OK- time to get to assembling the Ho-Hos. Aside from tempering the chocolate, this turned out to be one of the trickiest steps for me. My cake did not peel off the Silpat as cleanly as I had hoped it would. Don't get me wrong, it came off.... but it definitely left a thick film of crumbs behind and left me constantly worried that the entire cake was going to tear. But, it didn't! So, if you're worried about the same happening to you, know that the Ho-Hos still tasted and looked delicious despite clinging a bit to the Silpat.

To attempt to remove the cake as cleanly as possible, cover the top of the cooled cake with a piece of parchment paper and flip the sheet pan (and cake) over on top of the parchment paper. Now, slowly peel the Silpat off the back of the cake. Ignore the stickiness if it happens... just go slowly and carefully and you'll be good. Trim the edges of your cake to make them straighter and neater. Turn the cake so one of the shorter sides is facing you. Spread the stabilized whipped cream out as evenly as possible across the entire cake, leaving about an 1/4" border. It will look thin, but don't worry. Once it is all rolled up, each bite will have the perfect whipped cream to cake ratio.

Time to roll! Using the parchment paper to help you, fold about 1/2" of the cake over to start your roll. Keep picking up the parchment paper and rolling (slowly and gently) until the cake is half rolled up. Turn the parchment paper around and roll the other half of the cake into the middle. Roll as gently and tightly as you can. Using a knife, cut the rolls apart by slicing down the center of the cake, creating two long rolls of Ho-Ho.

As tightly as possible, wrap each roll in a parchment paper tube, place in a freezer zip-lock bag and freeze overnight. Go to sleep and get ready to wake up to a breakfast of gluten-free Ho-Hos!

Good morning, Sunshine! It's Day 2. Time to temper some chocolate. I know I may gloss over some of these steps, so feel free to google more descriptions of how to temper chocolate. That said, be forewarned. It's kind of like going on WebMD when you're sick. You run the risk of completely freaking yourself out. I found Serious Eats description both helpful and daunting. Tempering chocolate is full of dangers and it is easy to mess up. That said, if you take a couple of deep breaths and go slow, I'm sure you'll have Great Success, as Borat would say.

Melt the 10oz bag of chocolate chips in a double boiler, stirring occasionally. Using your Thermapen or other instant-read thermometer, keep an eye on the temperature of the melted chocolate. Bring it up to 115 degrees-- no higher!--  then remove melted chocolate bowl from the double-boiler pot. Add a few chunks of the 4oz chocolate bar, stirring continuously until the chunks have melted and continue adding chunks until the entire bar has been used. As you stir, take the chocolate's temperature. You want to get it back down to 81 degrees. This can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. I moved outside to speed the process up slightly because my house was really warm. 

Once the melted chocolate mixture has dropped to 81 degrees, return the bowl to the double boiler and reheat until the chocolate reaches between 88 and 90 degrees. Do not let it go above 92! During this reheat process, remove the Ho-Ho rolls from the freezer and slice into slightly-bigger-than bite-sized pieces. Take a second to ogle their awesome spiral centers!!!

Place the sliced rolls on a cooling rack set on top of a sheet pan. Once the chocolate has come back up to temperature, remove bowl of melted chocolate from the double boiler and begin the enrobing process. (Don't you just love that concept? Being enrobed in chocolate? Yes, please, sign me up!) Enrobe one piece at a time, by placing a Ho-Ho on top of a slotted spatula, hold the spatula over the bowl of melted chocolate, and spoon the tops and sides with the tempered chocolate. Set the Ho-Ho piece back on the cooling rack to dry. If your tempered chocolate works, it will be like Magic Shell (only more delicious), hardening over each Ho-Ho like, well... like magic.

Keep Ho-Hos in the refrigerator until ready to serve. They will keep for up to 3 days covered in the fridge.