These Vanilla Ding Dongs are a twist on the Hostess classic treat! For my vanilla people, they’re made with vanilla cake and vanilla icing instead of chocolate. And I dyed them rainbow to celebrate Pride month!
I developed this recipe as a contribution to the #LovePrideCollab that was created to bring awareness to the LGBTQ community and celebrate diversity, equality, and inclusion. As of the time of posting this blog post, this baker-led initiative has raised over $2,500 for the Trevor Project! For more information and to see all the other amazing creations, check out the hashtag on Instagram (#LovePrideCollab).
If you’ve never had Hostess ding dongs (or Drake's Ring Dings) they’re round mini chocolate cakes with a creme filling, coated in a thin layer of chocolate glaze. I used to love them as a kid! This is the same idea, just vanilla instead of double chocolate.
If you're more of a chocolate fan, I have an amazing copycat chocolate Ding Dongs recipe too. (And you should also check out my other chocolate recipes like chocolate satin pie and Nutella brownies!) Or for a healthy mix of chocolate and vanilla, you can mix and match the cake and glazes.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's great for people who don't like chocolate (couldn't be me lol). I guess they're kind of like Twinkies but a different shape, and add a vanilla glaze!
- Thanks to the shortcut of using a boxed cake mix, they're easy to make. To me, spending your time making the cream filling and vanilla glaze coating from scratch is way more worth it. Boxed cake is still good and a worthwhile shortcut IMO. BUT you can always use your favorite homemade vanilla cake recipe instead if you want to make a fully homemade version!
- Dyed rainbow, they're so festive and fun! Make them in June for a pride party or anytime to celebrate pride 24/7 365 ◡̈
Here's what you need to make this recipe:
- Boxed white cake mix - some vanilla cake mixes are yellow, but white cake works better for the most vivid rainbow colors.
- Eggs - most white cake mixes call for egg whites, but I used whole eggs instead. The yolks add a little bit of color so it's not pure white, but you can't really tell once you add the food coloring. Using whole eggs makes the cake a little bit more dense so it's easier to dip in glaze without falling apart.
- Oil - vegetable or canola
- Milk - use milk in place of water when following the box instructions. This also makes the cake a little bit more rich and dense. I recommend 2% or whole milk if you have it, but you can use any type of milk, including non-dairy milk.
- Heavy cream - also called heavy whipping cream, to make the whipped cream filling.
- Vanilla extract - used in the vanilla glaze + whipped cream.
- Food coloring - I used a combination of classic food coloring + neon gel food coloring to get such vivid colors. Each pack comes with 4 colors, but you can also mix colors if you need to (i.e. red + yellow = orange or blue + red = purple)
- Powdered sugar - aka confectioner's sugar for the vanilla glaze and the whipped cream filling.
- Stabilizer for whipping cream - there are a few different stabilizers you can use, but I think the easiest option is Dr. Oetker's Whip It. You just add a packet to your heavy cream and it keeps for days! Without a stabilizer, the whipped cream filling deflates inside of the ding dongs within a few hours.
- Rainbow sprinkles - for decoration on top ◡̈
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Rainbow Cupcakes
The first step to making rainbow vanilla ding dongs is making rainbow cupcakes! I prefer to use a jumbo muffin pan-- the size is better for ring ding/ ding dong proportions.
First, make the white cake batter according to the box instructions with a few adjustments: 1) use whole eggs instead of egg whites, 2) use milk instead of water, and 3) lower the oven temperature. These changes make the cupcakes denser and have flatter tops, which works better for ding dongs.
Split the cake batter evenly into 5 small bowls (or however many colors you want to use). Add about a teaspoon of food coloring to each bowl, making 5 different colors of cake batter. You can add more food coloring if you want the colors to be more vivid or darker, I don't usually measure it out.
Now the fun part! Fill each cup with about 1 tablespoon of red cake batter, followed by the rest of the colors in rainbow order. Try to place each color in a thin even layer, but it doesn't have to go all the way to the edges. And don't mix the colors together to keep distinct layers.
Bake the cupcakes in the oven until a toothpick comes out clean. To turn the cupcakes into ding dongs, use a 2.5-3 inch round cutter to cut a straight-sided cylinder out of each cupcake. (You can always skip this step, but this makes them look more like traditional ding dongs.)
Then, use a knife to make a horizontal cut across the top to flatten each cupcake. Flip them over so the smooth (red) side is on top. Make sure to let the cupcakes fully cool before proceeding.
How to Make Stabilized Whipped Cream Filling
If you've ever made fresh whipped cream, the process is exactly the same. You just need to add a stabilizer to keep it from deflating. There are a few different ways to do this:
- Starch-based stabilizer - I used Whip It, it's incredible! It tastes and looks just like fresh whipped cream but lasts for DAYS in the fridge.
- Cornstarch - Whip It is cornstarch-based, so using cornstarch should have a similar effect. It might effect the taste/ texture a little more though.
- Powdered sugar - adding powdered sugar to whipped cream helps stabilize it! This is because it contains a tiny bit of cornstarch. Powdered sugar + additional cornstarch in combination will be more effective.
- Gelatin - this is the way the pros do it. It's a bit more involved because you need to bloom the gelatin in a warm liquid before adding it to the cream. Also keep in mind gelatin is derived from meat, so it's not suitable for vegetarians.
How to Fill & Assemble Homemade Ding Dongs
Now that we have the whipped cream ready to go, cut a small hole out of the top of each cake cylinder. You can do this by using a small cutter and pressing about ¾ down (make sure not to cut all the way to the bottom). Then scoop it out with a small spoon or spatula, and cut away most of the middle, reserving about ¼ inch slice of cake to replace the top after filling.
Here you can see the hollowed-out cakes with the matching tops on the side. Fill each cake with about 1-2 tablespoons of whipped cream (fill most of the way, but don't overfill). Then carefully place the small round slice of cake on top to conceal the whipped cream center until it's flush to the top. If it sticks out too much, try removing a little of the whipped cream.
To make the vanilla glaze, mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Hold the ding dongs over the bowl of glaze one at a time and spoon glaze over top until the top and sides are all covered. Let the excess glaze drip back into the bowl.
Transfer the vanilla ding dongs to a tray lined with wax paper to allow the glaze to dry. Be sure to add sprinkles while the glaze is still wet so they adhere to the glaze. Then transfer the tray to the fridge (uncovered) to fully dry.
Admittedly, the rainbow layering thing is a lot of work (and a lot of dishes). So for an easier version of rainbow ding dongs, you can use a confetti cake mix and skip the food coloring. Or, add rainbow sprinkles to vanilla cake batter.
If you go this route, you can use a shallow rectangular cake pan if you don't have a jumbo muffin pan. And cut out circles from the sheet cake.
If you want to make plain vanilla ding dongs and skip the rainbow stuff, you can do that too! Make plain vanilla cake or cupcakes (using the adjustments outlined above) and proceed with the whipped cream filling and vanilla glaze as written.
Here's everything you'll need to make this recipe:
- Jumbo muffin pan - or a shallow rectangular cake pan. I prefer the muffin pan for the rainbow variation because it's easier to keep the colors in even layers.
- Round biscuit cutters - the diameter of the ding dongs should be about 2.5-3 inches. And I used a 1.5-inch cutter to cut out the middle.
- Electric mixer - most boxed cake mixes suggest a handheld mixer, but you can also mix by hand with a balloon whisk. Then I use my stand mixer to make homemade whipped cream, but you can use a handheld mixer or even a whisk if you're ambitious.
- Mixing bowls - if you're doing the rainbow layers, you'll need at least 5 small bowls, like this nesting set.
- Slotted spatula - to hold the ding dongs above the glaze. Since the cakes are pretty delicate, it's easier to use something like this rather than hold the cakes in your hand while glazing.
- Sheet trays and wax paper - to transfer the glazed ding dongs easily in and out of the fridge. Use wax paper or parchment paper so that they release easily.
Although you can keep these out at room temperature for a short amount of time, it's best to store them in the refrigerator.
You can store them uncovered on a lined sheet tray for at least 2 days. After that, they start to dry out a little, but the whipped cream filling was still fluffy and delicious on day 3!
I wouldn't recommend freezing these vanilla ding dongs due to the fresh whipped cream filling. It can change the texture and cause it to "weep" as it defrosts.
No, although they look very similar. Whip It is a powdered stabilizer mix that you add to whipped cream to make it last longer. Dream Whip is a "whipped topping mix" that you add to milk to make a whipped topping. It tastes more like Cool Whip than fresh whipped cream.
One potential downside to making homemade ding dongs is the extra cake scraps. But you don't have to let them go to waste! You can use them to 1) make cake pops, 2) make a trifle, or 3) snacking!
Cake scraps are great for taste testing! One of the hard things about making a cake is you cant really test it to make sure it tastes good before serving it. Here, you’ll have plenty of scraps to taste. Add a little bit of extra whipped cream topping and you'll have a good preview of what the ring dings will taste like ◡̈
Rainbow Vanilla Ding Dongs
These Vanilla Ding Dongs are a twist on the classic cream-filled Hostess snacks, made with vanilla cake mix and coated in vanilla glaze. You can make them plain vanilla or use food coloring for a rainbow effect!
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 12 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: American
For the Vanilla Cake
- 1 box white vanilla cake mix
- 1 cup milk
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup oil
- Gel food coloring in a variety of colors (optional)
For the Whipped Cream Filling
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 packet Whip It (or substitute any whipped cream stabilizer)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Vanilla Glaze Topping
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup milk
- Rainbow sprinkles (optional)
- Preheat oven to 300 °F and spray 2 jumbo muffin pans with nonstick spray.*
- Make cake batter according to box instructions, substituting milk for water and using whole eggs in place of egg whites. Split the cake batter evenly among 5 bowls (about 6 ounces each) and dye each bowl a different color of the rainbow using food coloring. Starting with red or pink, place 1 large spoonful (about 1 tablespoon) of batter in each cup of the prepared muffin pan. Repeat with each color in rainbow order until you’ve used all of the batters. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.
- Make stabilized whipped cream: in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, Whip It, and vanilla extract. Whip on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
- Fill ding dongs with whipped cream: Use a round cookie cutter (about 2 ½ inch diameter or the same size as the bottom of the cupcakes) to cut a straight-sided cylinder out of each cupcake. Trim the top of the cupcakes to make the tops flat if necessary, and flip over so the smooth side is on top. Then, using a smaller round cookie cutter (about 1 ½ inch diameter) make an indent in the top of each cylinder (pressing about ¾ of the way down, not all the way though). Use a spoon or small offset spatula to hollow out the center. Then, cut a thin slice (about ¼ inch thick) off the top of the hollowed-out center, and discard the rest of the inside of the cake, reserving just the top slices. Fill each ding dong with about 1-2 tablespoons of whipped cream and replace the top slice to conceal the filling. Refrigerate until well-chilled.
- Make vanilla glaze: combine all ingredients (except sprinkles) in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Adjust the consistency if necessary by adding more milk to thin or more powdered sugar to thicken.
- Coat ding dongs with vanilla glaze: working one at a time, place the ding dongs on a slotted spatula and hold over the bowl of glaze. Spoon the glaze over top until the top and sides are completely coated. Then transfer to a baking sheet lined with wax paper and sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles if using. Place the tray in the refrigerator uncovered. Allow glaze to fully set (at least 1-2 hours) before serving.
- If you don’t have a jumbo muffin pan, you can use regular cupcake pans or a large shallow cake pan to make the cake.
- To make plain vanilla ding dongs, skip the step with the food coloring, and just make vanilla cupcakes (with the substitutions listed).
- For alternate instructions on how to assemble, see this homemade ring dings recipe.
Keywords: how to make rainbow cupcakes, homemade vanilla ring dings