Copycat ding dongs or ring dings, made healthier than the commercial treat of round, cream-filled chocolate hand cakes. My healthier version is a homemade chocolate cake, filled with a nutritious coconut cream, and dipped in a healthy dark chocolate.
Ding dongs, also known as ring dings, are delicious chocolate-coated, cream-filled hand cakes. I love the idea, but not the processed ingredients so here I made them wholesome, dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, and gluten-free! I used my healthy chocolate cake recipe and it works perfectly to make these copycat cakes. Just like my healthier Hostess cream filled cupcakes or just as easy as my other copycat recipes such as samoa cookies and milano cookies.
To whip up your own ding dongs or ring dings, you need a healthier, sturdy cake recipe, a round cookie cutter, whipped cream, and some melted chocolate. I'll explain more.
What Are Ding Dongs?
Ding Dongs were a commercial cake that looked like a hockey puck produced by a U.S. commercial bakery named Hostess. They launched the cake in 1967 and it was popular for decades until the bakery went out of business in 2012. [source]
A similar but less well-known version of the cake was sold by Drake's bakery until the company was bought by the Hostess's parent company. The cake that looks like a Ding Dong, is now called a Ring Ding, and is still sold today.
But why buy when you can make a healthier homemade version? Here's how.
Ingredients in Ding Dongs
The cake recipe I used is basically my favorite vegan chocolate cake recipe made for an 8-inch square cake pan. I like it because it bakes up sturdy enough to be cut into circles.
flour: use all purpose or gluten-free baking flour
cocoa powder: use traditional cocoa, not dark cocoa to produce a lighter chocolate cake
sugar: use cane sugar, I used organic cane sugar
coffee: You can use granulated or brewed
leaveners: baking powder and baking soda are used here, along with a homemade buttermilk, which is basically a little lemon juice added to almond milk.
pumpkin puree: I use canned and sweet potato puree is also fine. This ingredient is used instead of eggs and oil. Do not use pumpkin PIE puree, that has additives such as sugar - you want only pumpkin to be listed in the ingredients.
For the cream filling, I used: a can of full fat coconut cream, maple syrup, vanilla and cream of tartar. Or, use your favorite vanilla frosting.
How to Make
Step 1: Bake my favorite chocolate cake (recipe in card at the bottom of this post) or use your own favorite chocolate cake recipe.
Step 2: Bake the cake in an 8-inch pan and allow the cake to cool completely. Because the next step is to use cookie cutters to cut out circles. I have made these using 2-inch cookie cutters, and 3 inch cookie cutters. As you might guess, the 3-inch circles hold more cream.
Step 3: Fit a frosting bag with a round tip, then fill the bag with whipped cream or frosting, and push some cream into the side of each cake circle or through the top.
Step 4: Chill the circles about 30 minutes in the refrigerator, then dip them in melted chocolate.
You can find this ding dong (ring ding) recipe in detail at the bottom of this post, but since the coconut whipped cream might be the least familiar step in the process, I'll detail it a bit more below.
1. Chilling the cooled 8-inch square cake in the refrigerator before cutting circles may help you cut cleaner circles.
2. Break up the left over cake to toast and use for other uses. Spread the crumbs on a cookie sheet, toasted for 10 minutes at 350F. Don't burn them! Then store them refrigerated and use the crumbles as dessert sprinkles on ice cream or smoothie bowls. Use them with my healthier magic shell toppings on ice cream or in homemade ice cream, or in homemade cookie dough.
3. If you pipe into the top, be sure to repair the top with a cork of cake so when you dip the circle, the top is smooth.
Make Coconut Whipped Cream
Here is a quick recipe.
1: Buy a can of full fat coconut milk. Refrigerate it overnight so the solid firmly separates from the liquid. I usually buy Whole Foods 365 brand. The problem is the whipping reaction can vary between brands and even within brands.
2: Next day, open the can, reserve the liquid in a covered container in the refrigerator for smoothies. And put the solid cream portion into a mixing bowl. Add a few teaspoon of maple syrup or organic powdered sugar if you want to keep it snowy white, some vanilla.
3: Whip it up into a peaky delicious cream. It takes about 4-5 minutes to really stiffen. Be sure to add ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar to help it take shape.
The resulting cream isn't exactly like traditional dairy whip in texture, but it is so close. And of course the nutrition in coconut whipped cream is high, full of nutrition that supports weight-loss and keeps cholesterol levels healthy. However, if the texture is too watery it can be absorbed by the cake so add a bit more powdered sugar may help.
How Does Coconut Cream Taste?
Coconut Whipped Cream tastes light and sweet, just a bit heavier than the cream that is pumped out of commercial cans. However, there is a bit of a coconut flavor, so to reduce that I recommend using a cane of light coconut milk. There is a bit of a coconut flavor however, and so if you want more of a vanilla flavor, pay attention to your vanilla.
Can I Make Ding Dongs in A Cupcake Pan?
Yes! A kind blog reader had that idea and asked me how long to cook them, so I thought I'd share how here.
You won't achieve the familiar hockey-puck shape of course. To make the ding dongs in a cupcake pan, just spoon batter into a 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners. Bake the cupcakes at 350 F for 16-18 minutes.
Allow them to cool completely, maybe an hour or overnight. Then make the cream and fill by using a fine frosting tip, pushing into the side and forcing cream inside the cupcakes. The cupcakes shouldn't be at all warm inside however or the cream will melt into a water and soak into the cake.
Other Healthy Copycat Recipes
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Ding Dongs (Ring Dings)
For the Square Cake:
- 1 cup dairy free milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar or ACV
- ½ cup pumpkin puree or sweet potato puree
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour or GF baking flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules or brewed coffee Add brewed coffee to liquids
Whipped Coconut Cream Filling
- 1 13.6oz/403ml coconut milk (full fat) solid portion only. Use light coconut milk to reduce coconut flavor of cream
- ½ cup organic powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon cream of tarter
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups dark chocolate chips I use Enjoylife mini chips
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- Put coconut milk can to chill overnight so the solid portion will separate from the liquid. You want to use the solid portion for the whipped cream.1 13.6oz/403ml coconut milk (full fat)
- Ready to bake? Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Grease an 8-inch square pan with vegan butter, and dust with cacao powder or line both ways with parchment paper
- In a large mixing bowl, combine milk and lemon juice and set aside for 10 minutes.
- In the large bowl, add to the milk/lemon mixture you prepared during prep all the other wet ingredients. Stir.1 cup dairy free milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ cup pumpkin puree, 2 teaspoon vanilla
- Then dump in all the dry ingredient. Mix into a batter, but not long, you don't want a rubbery cake and over-mixing all purpose flour mixtures will do that.1 ½ cups all purpose flour or GF baking flour, ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup organic cane sugar, 2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules or brewed coffee
- Pour batter into the pan, tap to even the surface, and bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- To flatten the center dome and make it easier to cut hockey pucks, press gently on the hot cake with a spatula all around the surface.
- Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes, run knife around inside edge, place a rectangular cook rack on top of cake, and tip pan upside down and allow cake to come out of pan and sit on rack.
- Place cake on rack in refrigerator for about an hour to allow it to cool and harden a bit before attempting to cut the cake circles.
- Cut circles using a circle cookie cutter. I have made these using 2-inch cookie cutters, and 3 inch cookie cutters. As you might guess, the 3-inch circles accept more cream.
- The left over cake cuttings can be crumbled on to a cookie sheet, toasted for 10 minutes at 350F. Don't burn them! Then use the crumbles as dessert sprinkles on ice cream or smoothie bowls.
Make the Cream
- To make the coconut cream, open the chilled coconut milk can, and scoop out the solid coconut - there will be ⅔ cup of liquid left behind, save that refrigerated for future smoothies.1 13.6oz/403ml coconut milk (full fat)
- In the medium bowl, blend this solid coconut with the powdered sugar and vanilla and cream of tarter with a hand-mixer until creamy. Set in refrigerator to chill for the time left that the cake has to chill.½ cup organic powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, ½ teaspoon cream of tarter, pinch of salt, 1 13.6oz/403ml coconut milk (full fat)
Pipe in Cream Filling
- When both cake and cream are chilled, insert cream into circles using this technique:Insert a baking tip into a frosting bag, fill the bag with the cream, and pipe the cream gentle into the side. You can also pipe into the top just be sure you can smooth down the top for coating.
Make the Chocolate Coating
- Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a shallow bowl in the microwave at 60 seconds. Stir until all is melted.2 cups dark chocolate chips, 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- Dip each cake in the chocolate coating bowl using two forks and use a spoon to add mixture all around the cake.
- Set each coated cake back on the cooling rack and set them in the freezer for a few minutes to set, or leave them at room temperature.Once set, they are ready to eat! Enjoy!
- Keep them in a sealed container and refrigerated for 2 days. Or freeze them for 3 months.
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