ding dong cake

Childhood Memories in a Cake — A Ding Dong Cake!

Growing up, board games and card games were important in my family.

At my dad’s, we played Monopoly, Cash Flow (in hopes that I’d be smart about money, we’re still not sure if it worked), Yahtzee, and all the rummy you can take! We played those while watching the Sunday night cartoons on Fox and eating entire pints of ice cream. Good times.

At my mom’s? It was Scrabble, Boggle, Facts in Five, or Cribbage. We would play those while watching Star Trek, drinking tea, and then having a Hostess Ding Dong. We were sort of particular about the Ding Dongs though. We froze them! This tradition actually didn’t last very long. It was probably only a year, but it is one that has stuck with me.

My little brother had a Little Tykes easel that also folded down into a table. We had the cutest the chairs for it. So, we’d fold down the easel, I’d pull up a chair, we’d get the Scrabble board out (usually), get the tea ready, turn on Star Trek, and get our Ding Dongs. The fun ensued, and I always got my tail whipped. Thanks to my mom, I can beat almost everyone I know at Scrabble these days.

These were the cherished memories that popped into my head when I saw this Ding Dong cake. Oh, man. It looks amazing. I can only imagine how wonderful this would be to share with my mom (and others) these days. I’ll be we’d still look around for the Scrabble board (we each have at least one) and put some tea on.

A fantastic dessert for any occasion.

While this has the feel and the look of a Ding Dong, it’s infinitely better. There’s dark chocolate salted caramel ganache. The vanilla frosting is made with real vanilla beans. I mean, really. This is amazing, rich, decadent stuff we’re talking about. I’ll bet it’s amazing fresh out of the freezer as well 😉

Thanks to Joanne at Joanne Eats Well With Others for this terrific recipe!


For the cake
  • 1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup hot strong coffee
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
For the caramel ganache
  • 9 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1⅛ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling and assembly
  • 1¼ tsp unflavored (kosher/vegan) gelatin
  • 1½ cups chilled heavy cream
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • flaky sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with baking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment and then coat the paper with spray.
  2. For the cake, place the cocoa powder and chocolate in a medium metal bowl. Pour the hot coffee over them and let sit for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl in 3 additions, alternating with the chocolate mixture. Divide the batter evenly between the two greased pans and smooth the tops.
  5. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool in cake pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the cakes to loosen and then invert onto wire racks. Peel off the paper and let cool completely. Turn cakes over. If needed, use a long serrated knife to cut off any bumps or dome from the top of each cake so that it is flat and even.
  6. For the caramel ganache, place the chocolate and salt in a medium bowl. Stir the sugar and ¼ cup of water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is deep amber, about 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream. Return to the heat, stirring until caramel dissolves. Pour over the chocolate. Add the vanilla and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly.
  7. Place one cake layer in a springform pan. Pour 1 cup of the ganache over it. Chill until set, about 30 minutes. Cover the remaining ganache and let sit at room temperature.
  8. For the filling, place 2 tbsp cold water in a small heatproof bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin into it and let stand until soft, about 10 minutes.
  9. Microwave the bowl with the gelatin in it until it dissolves, 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  10. Place the cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add the vanilla bean paste. Beat until soft peaks form. Stir in the gelatin and beat until firm peaks form.
  11. Spoon the filling over the chilled ganache in the pan. Smooth the top. Gently top with the second cake layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill until cream is set, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  12. Remove the sides from the springform pan. Scrape off any filling that might have leaked out of the sides so that they are smooth. Transfer the cake to a wire rack.
  13. Rewarm the remaining ganache until it is just pourable (not scalding!). Pour the ganache over the cake so that it drips down the sides. Chill until ganache is set, about 1 hour. Sprinkle cake with flaky sea salt before serving.

For more wonderful recipes and some great step-by-step photos, visit Joanne Eats Well With Others

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