Homemade Twinkies at Wagshal’s Deli
When a friend told me that Wagshal's Delicatessen was selling its own version of America's iconic junk food, the Twinkie, I got all excited. Perhaps now, I thought, we could eat a cream-filled cake that wouldn't require an entire book to catalog (and rationalize) its ingredients.
Maybe we'd even get a cream-filled snack stuffed with, you know, real cream.
The Twinkie at Waghal's — not cheap treat a $1.29 per spongy log — does indeed include dairy product in its creamy filling. So says an employee at the deli, who tells me there are also no artificial ingredients in the snack. (Let me just say this for the record: The good folks at Wagshal's would never ever call their sponge cakes "Twinkies," lest lawyers representing the Evil Twinkie Empire make an unannounced visit for trademark infringement.)
The homemade version has an extremely smooth exterior, almost like a nice cotton shirt, which contrasts with the more sponge-like appearance of the real thing. But both have soft, springy interiors, though I think Wagshal's has a denser body than an actual Twinkie, which can turn into yellow roadkill when buried at the bottom of, say, a school lunch bag. And both, of course, are shot through with cream — or, in the Twinkie's case, a cream-like filling featuring cellulose gum for mouthfeel.
The Wagshal's dessert has a nice light, sweet flavor to it. I'd might even call it vanilla flavor. But because it's a homemade product, and not constructed with cold perfect machines, the cream does not always reach across the full length of the cake, leaving some bites nothing more than, well, dense yellow cake.
I'm not a big fan of dense yellow cake.
I really really hate saying this — I feel like some traitor to the cause of locally produced sweets — but if I want a Twinkie-like product, I'll just buy a damn Twinkie.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery