Last week, when I made School Bus Twinkies for my son’s first day back to preschool, my husband asked if there would be any Twinkies left over. He was so excited to share a special treat that his mother made for him with us! Here is his story of the Jello Twinkies he remembers from his childhood:
“As a self-confessed “junk-food junkie”, I can trace the roots of my addiction to my childhood and those simple, yet elegant, delights that my mom used to create for us during those halcyon, sunlit, Iowa summers of my youth. “Comfort food” offers us comfort, not only for the tastes that it offers, but from the memories those tastes evoke.
If there was ever a “comfort food” that elicits my memories of those sprawling cornfield-summers, it is my mom’s Jello Twinkies. By no stretch of the imagination is this “comfort food” a unique or orginal creation except perhaps for the memories that I’ve attached to it: swimming all summer-long in the 1,000 gallon stock tank that we used as a swimming pool, chasing butterflies in the meadow adjacent to our house, the comforting kiss on my cheek from my mom as she applied a Band-Aide to my skinned knee after the sting of the Bactine anti-septic spray faded away, and the all-too-infrequent trips to that now-distant Iowa reservoir to go fishing with my dad. These are the feelings, the memories, that rush back to me when I think of my mom’s Jello Twinkies- the ulitmate “comfort food” for all of the love and warmth that they bring back to me.
Charline’s Jello Twinkies
- 6 Twinkies, unwrapped
- One 3-oz. box of gelatin, any flavor
- 7 oz. boiling water
- 7 oz. cold water
The recipe is simplicity itself. Into a glass loaf pan (9″ length x 5″ width x 3″ depth), place the Twinkies upside-down (the three little spots where the creme was injected into the cake should face upwards) taking care not to damage them. Getting the sixth twinkie into the pan can be difficult, but it can be done with relative ease if the first five are pushed aside and slightly compressed as a unit allowing room for the sixth Twinkie. It is a cramped arrangement and necessarily so. If extra space is allowed, the Twinkies will tend to soften quickly and disintegrate slightly before the gelatin can set up- a crime against Nature to be sure.
Once the Twinkies are in place, the slightly over-concentrated Jello (using only 14 ounces of water to a 3 ounce packet of Jello instead of the usual 16 ounces) should be spooned very gently over the Twinkies. Any flavor of Jello may be used, but the most appealing ones are Lime, Strawberry, Cherry, and my favorite, Raspberry. There should be almost no excess liquid and the Twinkies should be placed into a refrigerator immediately. Because of the extra contents, give the Jello Twinkies a full six hours to set. When they are ready to serve, simply run a butter-knife around the inside of the loaf pan, then cut the six Jello Twinkies apart and lift these refreshing delights carefully from the loaf pan one at a a time.
Recently, I had the chance to share these with my wife, Lilly, and my children, Walter and Genevieve. I ate, watching them enjoy Jello Twinkies (lime, in this case) for the first time ever, their sticky, smiling faces telling me all that I’ll ever need to know.”