Here's how to make Hostess cupcakes that, we swear, are an exact copycat of the original, including the fluffy white filling and the drizzly icing for those cute curlicues.
These homemade Hostess cupcakes are unequivocally and unspeakably the best Hostess cupcakes and unspeakably better than those preservative-laden, shrink-wrapped chocolate cake imposters you grew up on. Swear. In the words of one of our recipe testers, these are “the soft and squidgy cake of my childhood dreams.” And it comes complete with the “oddly alluring plastic-like chocolate frosting with white squiggles which spreads across the top like a bedspread, hiding the chocolate crumb cake and creamy center beneath,” according to the genius who devised this copycat recipe, Jennifer Steinhauer. Don’t let the various components of the recipe deter you. As Steinhauer says, “It sounds like a lot of work, but it all goes pretty quickly.” This recipe has been updated. Originally published June 20, 2015.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Special Equipment: 6- and 12-muffin tins
Homemade Hostess Cupcakes Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 40 M
- 3 H
- Makes about 18 cupcakes
- For the cupcakes
- 2 1/2 cups (12.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) salted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups (16 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 cup natural cocoa powder (3.6 ounces), such as Hershey’s Baking Cocoa, sifted
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- For the filling
- 1 cup marshmallow fluff
- 1/3 cup (about 2 3/4 ounces) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- For the frosting
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup (8 ounces) bittersweet chocolate morsels
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) salted butter, softened
- For the frosting decoration (optional)
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (2.85 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- Make the cupcake batter
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line both a 6- and a 12-muffin tin with paper liners.
- 2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and sea salt.
- 3. In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and the granulated sugar just until light and fluffy, 1 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix just until combined after each addition.
- 4. In a small bowl, vigorously whisk the hot water and the cocoa together until smooth. (If the mixture clumps, whisk a little more vigorously or reach for an electric mixer and beat until smooth.) Add the cocoa mixture to the mixture in the stand mixer and beat on low speed for 10 seconds.
- 5. With the mixer still on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until the ingredients are blended after each addition.
- 6. Dollop some of the chocolate cupcake batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each halfway. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack. [Editor’s Note: The chocolate cupcakes may seem a touch dry and crumbly when they come out of the oven. Once the cupcakes have been allowed to cool, pumped full of marshmallow fluff filling, and have had a moment to collect themselves, though, they turn to be wonderfully moist—but not mushy—through and through.]
- Make the filling
- 7. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the marshmallow fluff, butter, and confectioners’ sugar together until well combined and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- 8. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make a hole in the top center of each cake. Gently rotate the utensil in each hole to create a small cavity in the center of the cupcake that’s slightly wider at the bottom than it is at the top.
- 9. Transfer the filling to a piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with a bottom corner snipped off. Pipe just enough marshmallow mixture into each cupcake to fill each hole. You want a keep a firm grasp on your cupcake as you infuse it with the filling so as not to allow it to explode; once you feel it growing in size, show restraint—stop pumping the cupcake full of marshmallow fluff and return it to the muffin cup. Use a wet fingertip or the back of a spoon to tamp down any marshmallow peaks, ensuring that the filling is even with the top of the cupcake. The top of each cupcake should be flat.
- Make the frosting
- 10. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream just until bubbles begin to form at the edges. Add the chocolate morsels and remove the pan from the heat, stirring until the chocolate melts. Add the butter and continue to stir until smooth. Let cool for 3 minutes. Transfer the chocolate to a large deep glass bowl. Dip the top of each cupcake into the chocolate to coat, letting the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl, or use an offset spatula to frost the top of each cupcake. Let the cupcakes rest on a wire rack set over newspapers until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
- Make the frosting decoration
- 11. In a small bowl, beat the butter and the confectioners’ sugar together until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag and decorate the top of each cupcake with a curlicue pattern.
- Serve the cupcakes
- 12. Wait! Your cupcakes are not ready yet. Stash them in an airtight container for at least 6 hours and up to 2 days before serving. This allows the cakes to take on some of the moisture from the filling and to achieve that classic, coveted, soft-but-not-mushy, Hostess cupcakes texture. You’re welcome.
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