Marshmallow Fluff Is The Key To Making Perfect Copycat Zebra Cakes

While many copycat recipes are meant to enable you to duplicate a restaurant dish that may be either inaccessible or too pricey, others are just a way for you to flex your kitchen expertise. These copycat Little Debbie cakes fall into the latter category, as Zebra Cakes are something you can easily buy a box of at the dollar store. Still, if you're willing to invest some time and effort, you'll produce something that recipe developer Patterson Watkins describes as being "as close to authentic as possible" and do so with ingredients you can actually recognize.

Watkins does take a few shortcuts with these almost-from-scratch snack cakes, as she starts with store-bought cake mix. She also adds a box of pudding mix, as she feels it "create[s] a more dense final product [with] less crumbs [and] less fluff." The heart of a Zebra Cake, however, is the filling. Watkins makes it from butter, powdered sugar, and marshmallow fluff. This combination, in her experience, best resembles what she calls the Little Debbie cakes' "almost Moon Pie-esque marshmallow filling." (While this statement seems to beg the question as to whether the Moon Pie's filling could instead be called "Little Debbie-esque," Moon Pies predate Little Debbie by 43 years, so they do have seniority here.)

Change up your fluff for a different kind of snack cake

While following Watkins' recipe will, she assures us, result in "a Zebra Cake as close as humanly possible to the original article," true DIYers may want to go a step or two farther by baking their yellow cake from scratch and even making homemade marshmallow fluff. Experimental cooks may even want to switch up the flavors — no reason you can't have a cake that's black and white on the outside but chocolate inside, after all.

The filling flavor, too, is something that can be tinkered with, since what happens beneath the frosting is nobody's business but your own. Marshmallow Fluff (the name-brand, capital letter kind) is available in strawberry as well as regular marshmallow flavors, and you could add a little cocoa powder to the latter to make a chocolate filling. You could even smear some peanut butter onto the cakes before adding the filling to create a Zebra Cake-Fluffernutter mashup.