For the cakes:
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs at room temperature, separated
12 tablespoons sugar, divided (One Twinkie aficionado thought the cakes were too sweet. If you want a less sweet version, use 10 tablespoons of sugar.)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup marshmallow creme
2 tablespoons heavy cream
For the cakes: Preheat oven to 350° and place oven rack in lower-middle position.
Cut 12 pieces of aluminum foil into rectangles about 12-by-14-inches.
Fold each piece in half and then in half again. Place a spice jar in the middle of each sheet (you can use the same spice jar for each).
Pull up the sides around the jar and fold in the edges to create a tight trough shape. Remove the jar. Spray each mold generously with nonstick spray or coat inside with vegetable oil, and place molds on a baking sheet.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Cover to keep warm.
Using a standing mixer, beat the egg 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 peaks (if making the less-sweet version, use 5 tablespoons of sugar).
Transfer the beaten egg whites to a large bowl and add the egg yolks to the standing mixer bowl (there is no need to clean the bowl).
Beat the egg yolks with the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and a pale lemon color, about 5 minutes (if making the less-sweet version, use 5 tablespoons of sugar). Add the beaten egg whites to the yolks, but do not mix.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg whites and then mix everything on low speed for just 10 seconds.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, make a well in one side of the batter, and pour in the melted butter mixture. Fold gently with a large rubber spatula until the batter shows no trace of flour and the whites and yolks are evenly mixed, about 8-10 strokes.
Immediately scrape the batter into the prepared molds, filling each with about 3/4 inch of batter. Bake until the tops are light brown and feel firm and spring back when touched, 13-20 minutes.
Transfer the pan containing the molds to a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool in the molds.
For the filling: Using a mixer, beat together the butter, confectioners' sugar, and marshmallow creme. Add the cream and beat until just smooth.
Just before filling the cakes, remove them from the foil. Using the end of a chopstick, poke three holes in the bottom of each cake, reaching more than half-way to the top. Wiggle the tip of the chopstick to make room for the filling.
Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Pipe frosting into the holes in each cake, taking care not to overfill, until it gently expands. Best served while still slightly warm.
Yield: 12 homemade Twinkies.
-- Source: Adapted by the New York Times from leitesculinaria.com