Twinkie Cook Off

John Boone / E! Online

Here at E! Online, we do not pass up any opportunity to eat. So when we heard that Hostess was conducting an open call for original Twinkie-based recipes for the second edition of their The Twinkie Cookbook, we thought, "Yeah. We'll do that. That's something we will do." 

The gauntlet was thrown down and three bakers (and myself, for a total of four) accepted the challenge. With boxes on boxes of Twinkies at our disposal, here is what we created. We hope we made you proud, Twinkie.

The Rules

1. Recipe must contain Twinkies.

The Players

Rosemary Brennan & Twinkie Ice Cream Sandwiches:

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

"I made Twinkie ice cream sandwiches. I used Emeril Lagasse's recipe for vanilla ice cream and then I put bits of Twinkies in when I put it in the ice cream maker. I thought it would be a fun take on Twinkies and really have the Twinkie flavor throughout. I had to bake the Twinkies a little bit in the oven so they would get crispy and they wouldn't fall apart, so they would have more of a cookie consistency. They're really sweet and I'm excited."

Julia Hays & Twinkie Dirt:

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

"I don't have a name for it...I made this pudding-y thing that's got layers of pudding and layers of crumbled Twinkies. I based it on a childhood dessert that I like. The only reason I'm in this competition is for smack talking against my coworkers, that's the sole motivating factor behind why I wanted to do this."

John Boone & Twinkie Toast Pie (and Red, White and Blue Twinkie Pie)

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

"My original idea was turning the Twinkies into the pie crust. I thought I might be able use the Twinkie filling to make a straight Twinkie Pie, but it turns out there's not as much filling in the Twinkie as I thought. So I mixed it with some homemade whipped cream. My boyfriend had been messing around with recipes and came up with the French toast Twinkies. They looked good, so I mixed them in with the cream frosting to make it French toast Twinkie flavored. I haven't tried it yet. I only made one pie."

(My boyfriend wanted to participate too, even though he doesn't even go here. He made the fruit pie. Here's what he had to say about it: "Twinkies are a part of American culture and I wanted to incorporate them into something patriotic! What better than a yummy pie made with red, white and blue?")

Lindsay Bloomfield & Twinkie Pumpkin Pie, Strawberry Shortcake & Peach Cobbler

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

"They're all similar. They all have a Twinkie-based bottom and then it's like a whipped cream, cream cheese, vanilla combo in the middle. One has pumpkin pie filling and whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice on the top, so it's like a pumpkin pie cheesecake. The one with the dollops of whipped cream is a peach cobbler with fresh peaches from my parents' tree, which is probably the opposite of what goes with a Twinkie. And then the last one is strawberries and chocolate chips with whipped cream."

Meet The Judges (and Find Out Why They're Qualified)

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

Gina Serpe (left): Lived very near a Hostess outlet shop when she was younger and went there "a lot."
Kendrick Thompson (center): Once registered in the Twinkie Cook-Off as a fifth contestant, this avid baker had to back out because his wife's birthday was the night before the contest. Those who can't do, judge.
Elizabeth Freda (right): Intern.

Now on to the tasting...

The Dessert: Twinkie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!


Slice five (5) Twinkies in half, separating the top and bottom. Then cut perpendicular, making four pieces.
Heat the oven to 225 F. Place Twinkie pieces cream side up on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 11 mins. Place in freezer overnight

Ice Cream (Emeril Lagasse's Old Time Vanilla Ice Cream)

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
Pinch salt
3 Twinkies cut into small pieces/crumbles 

Whisk cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt together until sugar dissolves. Pour into ice cream machine. Add Twinkie bits slowly to machine. Follow machine instructions. After ice cream is made, transfer to air-tight container and freeze overnight.

Assembling the sandwiches: Spread ice-cream on bottom piece of Twinkie and set top piece of Twinkie on top of ice cream. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Freeze for at least four hours.

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

Kendrick: I love the cream in the middle. Unfortunately, you haven't really repurposed the Twinkie. It doesn't really satisfy the challenge. I would buy this in a store, I will say that.
Gina: This is a compliment: It tastes store-bought but in a good way. Like, it's professional.
Elizabeth: The ice cream is really good but the Twinkie is a little too frozen.

The Dessert: Twinkie Dirt

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3.5 cup milk
2 packets of instant vanilla pudding mix
12 oz. frozen whipped topping
20 Twinkies

Mix the cream cheese, butter and sugar in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the milk and pudding mix (approx. 2 minute) and then let it set. Slowly add the pudding mixture into the cream cheese mixture and then fold in the whipped topping.

Crush the Twinkies and spread 1/3 of them into a bowl Layer with half of the pudding mixture and half of the remaining Twinkies. Repeat until everything is gone and then pop it in the fridge.

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

Kendrick: This is good. It could have used a little fruit in there. 
Elizabeth: It's the right amount of sweet. 
Gina: It's really rich and creamy, it's like more enhancing the Twinkie flavor. Quite cloying.
Kendrick: Not really sure that the Twinkie was really repurposed. It needs some fruit or something to cut all the custard.

The Dessert: Twinkie Toast Pie & Red, White and Blue Twinkie Pie

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

Twinkie Toast Pie

16 Twinkies
1/2 cup butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract (divided)
1 Tbs. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat over to 400. To make the Twinkie crust, scoop the filling out of 10 Twinkies, separating the frosting into one bowl and the breaded part into another (this is kind of tricky, but just try your best. It's OK if there's crumbs in the frosting and frosting in the crumbs. It's all going to the same place eventually.)

Smash the bowl of breaded bits into as small of chunks as possible. Melt the 1/2 cup stick of butter in the microwave (approx. 30 seconds) and mix in with the breaded bits until they're covered. Move the breaded bits to an empty pie tin and form them into a crust. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Next, mix the whipping cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the sugar into a bowl. Whisk until thicker. Then add the bowl of Twinkie frosting and mix it all together (this should make the cream even thicker). Refrigerate the cream.

Now, mix the eggs, milk, other teaspoon of vanilla extract, and cinnamon (basically, just use as much cinnamon as you want) in a bowl. Coat the Twinkies quickly in the French toast mix, so they don't get soggy, and then place them on a plate. Pan fry them and return them to the plate.

Cut up all the French toasted Twinkies into small pieces and mix them in with the cooled cream. Mix until the French toasted Twinkie pieces are almost completely gone. The cream should now be a cinnamon-brown color. Pour this into the Twinkie piecrust and refrigerate. Optional: Top with fresh bananas, if you want to look classy.

Red White and Blue Twinkie Pie!

1 7-oz pie pre-made pie crust
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup small strawberries, or strawberries halved
3 Twinkies
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. flour
3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375. Cut up Twinkies into 1/2 inch pieces. Place Twinkies, blueberries, and strawberries into uncooked pie crust. Whisk eggs, egg yolk, vanilla and sugar until frothy (about 1 minute). Whisk in flour until blended. Stir in whipping cream until well blended.

Pour into the pie crust. The Twinkies and fruit should be peaking out of the top. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the egg has set. Let cook. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

Twinkie Toast Pie:

Elizabeth: I'm confused about what's inside of it. There are a lot of things happening right now. It's got this pecan pie-thing happening.
Gina: Huh! You know what it tastes like? The texture [of the filling] is like the inside of a cake pop. I'm actually taking another bite.
Kendrick: You are not f--kin' around. I do like that the Twinkie was used to make the crust, I can taste that. But it doesn't feel like a Twinkie, it just tastes like a Twinkie. That's pretty awesome.
Gina: It's very custardy. It's weird. I like that one. Is there coconut in there?

Red, White and Blue Twinkie Pie

Gina: That tastes the least like a Twinkie of all of them...It's good, but it doesn't have as much taste as the other ones.
Elizabeth: It just tastes like a pie you buy at the store. That is a store-bought pie crust if I've ever seen one.
Kendrick: I don't think there's any Twinkies. Yeah, there's no Twinkies in that. It's all right, it was really good. I'm gonna go ahead and say "disqualified."

The Dessert: Twinkie Pumpkin Pie, Strawberry Shortcake & Peach Cobbler

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

Strawberry Shortcake (left)

10 Twinkies
1 package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 container thawed cool whip
Fresh sliced strawberries (around 2 cups)
Mini chocolate chips (to taste)

Slice Twinkies in half and place cream side up in a baking dish, lining the bottom of the pan. 

Blend together softened cream cheese, sugar and 1/2 of cool whip until smooth, spread over Twinkie base. Add fresh strawberries and chocolate chips over cream cheese base and top with remaining Cool Whip. Put in fridge for 3-4 hours and serve.

Pumpkin Pie (center)

10 Twinkies
1 package cream cheese
1 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 container Cool Whip
2 boxes instant vanilla pudding
1 can pumpkin
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice or equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg
1 cup milk

Slice Twinkies in half and place cream side up in a baking dish. Blend together softened cream cheese, sugar and 1/2 of Cool Whip until smooth, spread evenly over Twinkie base. 

Combine pudding, pumpkin, milk and pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon/nutmeg mixture and mix well. Pour evenly over cream cheese layer.

Spread remaining Cool Whip over pumpkin and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon. Refrigerate overnight for best results.

Peach Cobbler (right)

10 Twinkies
1 package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 container thawed Cool Whip
8 fresh peaches sliced and peeled (this version used white peaches)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cornstarch

Slice Twinkies in half and place cream side up in a baking dish. Blend together softened cream cheese, sugar and 1/2 of cool whip until smooth, spread over Twinkie base. 

Mix peaches, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and cornstarch and cook down on the stove. Once the syrup has become thick, spread over cream cheese mixture. Garnish with Cool Whip dollops or serve with vanilla ice cream. 

Twinkie Cook Off

Melissa Hebeler/E!

Strawberry Shortcake:

Gina: I feel like it's the sweetest of the three, but it's the freshest. I also don't like the chocolate chips because it's a weird crunch and I don't like to mix textures.
Elizabeth: It's the lightest dessert so far and the strawberries are really fresh. I think this one is my favorite out of the three.
Kendrick: I'm not feelin' the chocolate. Out of these three, I taste the Twinkie the most.

Peach Cobbler:

Kendrick: It's like a cobbler. It could use a little crunch. Twinkie definitely has been repurposed well.
Elizabeth: There's a little too much syrup on the peaches. It's really, really sweet.
Gina: I'm not a big peach fan, but the peach topping's very good. Again with the hiding of the Twinkie. The Twinkie is like cake here.

Pumpkin Pie:

Elizabeth: I just don't know where the Twinkies are in it. It's the furthest from a Twinkie. It tastes like Thanksgiving in my mouth.
Gina: But that's the point! That's why it's good. This would actually be really good at Thanksgiving, like I would actually make this at Thanksgiving.
Kendrick: I'm lovin' the pumpkin.

And the winner is...

Gina: "There were two front-runners. We all had the same two in mind and then we had to narrow it down. So we'll say the two who were first, and then we'll say who the winner is. So the two were: the French toast pie creation for originality, taste and texture. And then the other top choice is the pumpkin situation."
Kendrick: "The winner is...The pumpkin situation!"
Elizabeth: "With an honorable mention to the ice cream sandwiches."

Congratulations to Lindsay and your pumpkin situation! If you'd like to submit your own recipe, apply at before July 31. (BUT PLEASE PICK OUR RECIPES, HOSTESS.)

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