Going grocery shopping this time of year is hard. Every aisle and endcap is dressed up in seasonal pumpkin flavors. Foods I normally overlook now give me cause to pause, “Pumpkin Pie Pringles? Might make a fun snack. I’m sure they have less calories than an actual pumpkin pie.” And each pumpkin spice/ pie flavored thing I see goes the same way. I’m so easy this way. Fortunately for me, my husband is not. Just as soon as my eyes begin to zero in on another piece of pumpkin crack, he’s all, “we don’t need that!” Does your significant other do that too? Most days I’m like, “Shut up, I need what I need and you’re not going to tell me otherwise!” But these days I’m like, “Hallelujah! One of us has some sense.”
Recently on one such trip, I came across one of these items that I just couldn’t shake: Pumpkin Spice Twinkies. Now, there is nothing redeeming about a Twinkie — except it’s expert ability to satisfy the large and in-charge glutton in each of us. Add pumpkin to the mix, I mean, come on. I have to admit I lingered in that aisle, long after A had moved on to the next item on our list. I went back and forth, weighing pros and cons, trying to make a case for why I, a woman who is always trying to lose a few pounds, needs to have Pumpkin Spice Twinkies in my life.
Fortunately my best self prevailed and I left that aisle empty handed, but not after resigning to recreate my own version.
Having never tried the actual Pumpkin Spice Twinkies, I only had the flavor I created in my imagination to go off of. But let’s be honest, they were probably better in my head than in real life.
As a kid my aunt or maybe my mom used to make Strawberry Shortcake by combining strawberry yogurt with cool whip, adding a scoop to a sponge cake cup, and topping with fresh strawberries. It was so simple but it was always such a special treat. To this day strawberry shortcake conjures fond memories of both my aunt and my mom. I thought for this Pumpkin Twinkie Switcharoo I could adapt that family recipe.
Here’s what I did:
I picked up some store bought sponge cake. Side note: I feel like ready-made sponge cake options are not what they used to be. The dessert cups I picked up seemed pretty small and janky. There was only one variety so I made it work. I’ve never made sponge cake before, but if you have or if you’re willing to commit a little more time to this dish I would suggest doing that. I’m sure it would take this special treat right over the top.
Keeping true to the recipe I picked up fat-free cool whip and pumpkin flavored yogurt. Every yogurt maker has a pumpkin flavored option right now. If you are looking for a sweeter variety don’t choose a Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is more sour and adds a tart element to the dessert. Full disclosure: I didn’t think about that when I gathered my supplies so I did end up picking a Greek yogurt, but I like tart so it all worked out.
Mix the yogurt and the cool whip at a ratio of 1:1. I also added pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon to taste. You really can’t mess this up. They are best served right away but if you want to make ahead of time I would place in the freezer (up to an hour) and take out to defrost 20 minutes before serving. Use your best judgement here.
I topped each off with some cheater candied pecans. I just melted some butter and sugar, saturated the pecans and spread over a parchment lined cookie sheet to harden.
I love how this dessert came out and it took all of ten minutes! I’ll never know how close the original this version is, but it was better than what I had imagined and with a lot less guilt.