Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

by Andie Mitchell on October 26, 2010

When I set about making Hostess cupcakes from scratch the other day, I came to a few conclusions. 1.) Unconditional love is best displayed by way of chocolate, 2.) Two full decades of my life can now safely be branded by Hostess, and 3.) No matter how many times I plug away at a doctorate in Cupcake Theory and Practice, there unfortunately is no such degree program. Yet.

You see, the iconic cream-filled cupcake really does have deep roots in my existence. Tell me that’s true for you too. Or at least, tell me that it’s borderline acceptable to pine for Hostess to develop either a delivery system or a support hotline.

I’ll wait while you consider these options.

I love every single fudgy crumb. I love the nostalgic white squiggle that dances across the top.  I love that one baseball-sized sweet can make me feel like I’m coming home from fifth grade and prying open the plastic wrapper while watching Fresh Prince. I love that a cupcake can transport me to an era when I’d blow every last cent I had on a stack of pogs and a Fun Dip. And I love that I never once knew how to play pogs.

But enough about me. Let’s get to the cupcakes, shall we?

This homemade version is absolute decadence. The cake itself is springy, moist, and almost melting in its fudginess. It’s soft yet sturdy enough to support the fluffy vanilla cream that’s plumply puffed inside. And the glaze…oh the glaze. It’s intense and sexy and rich, with the grown up flavor of silky dark chocolate.


Chocolate Cupcakes

makes 12

  • 1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Start by pouring hot brewed coffee over the two ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate. This process of adding a hot liquid to chocolate in order to melt it, is called ‘blooming.’ It completely enhances the strength of chocolate flavor in your baked good. And despite the fact that you’re using coffee, no coffee flavor will be detectable in the finished product, it just intensifies the cocoa.

Allow the coffee and chocolate to stand for a minute, then stir until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is smooth.

Set the chocolate aside. In a standing mixer, or using a hand-held electric mixer, beat your egg until it is opaque and a bit frothy, about 30 seconds.

Add in the sour cream, oil, and vanilla. Mix well.

Now stream in your chocolate and beat until all ingredients are well combined.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Add it to your wet ingredients and mix just until combined.

Divide the batter evenly among a paper-lined muffin tin. You do not need to coat the paper liners with nonstick cooking spray before filling.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Let them cool in the pan set atop a wire rack for 15 minutes beforeremoving to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream Filling

  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3-4 TBSP heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the butter until it is creamy and smooth. Slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time, and beat on medium-high until fluffy. Add the cream and vanilla and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add more cream, one tablespoon at a time, if necessary to achieve a creamy, light consistency.

Chocolate Glaze

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and heat over medium until smooth and well-combined. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool for 30 minutes before spreading on top of the cupcakes.

How to assemble:

When the cupcakes have completely cooled, use a sharp knife to carefully remove the centers of each cupcake, being careful not to cut through to the bottom of the cupcake.

Now it’s time to fit your pastry bag, or a gallon-size resealable plastic bag with the bottom corner snipped, with a medium-sized round opening tip (any one will do- the design does not matter. This will allow us to pipe the buttercream easily into the center of each cupcake.

To fill the bag with buttercream, fold over the top edges outwardly, then use a spatula to scoop the buttercream inside. Unfold the edges of the bag and squeeze the buttercream downwards with your hands to reach the tip.

Twist the bag tightly around the bulge of buttercream so that no buttercream squeezes out the top of the bag while your piping.

Squeeze the buttercream into the hollow center of each cupcake, filling each with about 2 tablespoons of buttercream.

Now let’s make the ganache, or the shiny chocolate glaze for the cupcakes. Microwave your heavy cream in a microwave safe measuring cup or bowl for 1 minute, or until it begins to bubble. Pour it over your chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Let it stand for a minute and then stir until smooth and shiny. Let it cool to room temperature before spreading on the cupcakes.

When you’re ready, spoon a tablespoon of ganache onto the top of each cupcake and smooth to the edges using a butter knife. Don’t worry if the ganache falls over the sides.

Now, remember your pastry bag filled with buttercream? You’re going to change the tip to a small round opening (the smallest you have) in order to create that signature squiggle that Hostess pipes along each of their cupcakes. Practice on a plate a few times until you get the hang of it. Refill your bag with more buttercream if necessary.

Be confident and use even, gentle pressure when piping.

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

thecompletecookbook October 27, 2010 at 12:38 am

Nothing more to say other than Decadent Perfection! :-) Mandy


Jessica @ How Sweet October 27, 2010 at 3:48 am

I was never a Hostess fan (not sure why) but these look SO good!


Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) October 27, 2010 at 4:20 am

These are, in one word, adorable. How fun would it be to bring these over someone’s house?? Love it. They look even better than the ‘original’. :D


Erin October 27, 2010 at 4:29 am

Divine. It looks pretty easy, too, which is always nice to see in baked goods. Brings back middle school memories…


Kristy October 27, 2010 at 5:08 am

Oh no you didnt! :-)


MelissaNibbles October 27, 2010 at 5:09 am

Wow, these look incredible!


Courtney October 27, 2010 at 5:10 am

Oh my gosh, these are fantastic!!! I am totally with you on the hollowed out centers…there really is no other option than to just eat them. I do it all the time! It’s trouble. :)


adventuresofpretendcook October 27, 2010 at 5:13 am

These look amazing! My husband loves these things. I may have to try this recipe out.


cookinfanatic October 27, 2010 at 5:13 am

I used to eat these growing up, how fun! The homemade ones look 110% better obviously :)


peggyhogan October 27, 2010 at 5:30 am

I never had these much growing up; they were too pricey. I wish we would have had your recipe! They look beautiful. What a fun treat for a party.


Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine October 27, 2010 at 5:46 am

I’m craving cupcakes and it’s not even 9 am. You are evil but a genius :)


Evan Thomas October 27, 2010 at 6:13 am

Oh my God, these are too nice for word. Anything that’s stuffed with buttercream must be amazing


Amy @ Second City Randomness October 27, 2010 at 6:33 am

I never understood why some recipes called for coffee or sourcream. Then I realized how rich and decadent this makes the chocolate cake! Yum.

We were a family of swiss rolls and nutty bars. I have no idea what my mom had against the cupcakes? Sadness…


Can You Stay for Dinner October 27, 2010 at 7:33 am

Oh my god, don’t even get me started on the Swiss Rolls or anything associated with Little Debbie either. Unbearably delicious!


Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman October 27, 2010 at 7:06 am

I loved these as a kid but somehow they always tasted somewhat stale. I’m sure yours are much softer. The only Hostess treat better than this were Ho Hos.


Sana October 27, 2010 at 7:36 am

I don’t think I have ever had many as a child! Thanks for changing the font! I love reading your posts.
Is it messy cutting out the middle? I feel like i would take out too much :(
Did you eat the middle?


Can You Stay for Dinner October 27, 2010 at 7:56 am

Hi Sana! I’m so glad you told me to change the font- it’s super important to know when the blog is blurry or hard to read! Cutting out the centers of the cupcakes is very easy. And yes, it is almost a requirement to eat the middle because it’s so tender, moist, and squishy. I ate about half of all the centers and Daniel enjoyed the rest! YUM.


Carolyn @ Lovin' Losing October 27, 2010 at 7:37 am

These actually make me want to cry a little because they look so good and I’d ove to make them, but am well aware that I am too lazy to do so.


Fervent Foodie October 27, 2010 at 7:51 am

These hostess cupcakes remind me of my grandma. To this day, she still ALWAYS has a box of these in her cabinet!


Cindy October 27, 2010 at 8:23 am

My printer is smoking right now because I just printed out all 15 pages of pictures and how to’s.

even if I never make them (and I am SO making these) but just reading each step caused me great joy.
that little squiggle was the best part. okay the buttercream filling.

HEY….make those marshmallow coconut covered snowballs!!!!!!
after that udon noodle soup.

I am carb starved right now and coming here just makes me giddy!


Cindy October 27, 2010 at 8:23 am

OH I lied: 21 pages!


Janetha G - meals & moves October 27, 2010 at 8:41 am

You are awesome! I love your recipe for the Hostess Cupcakes. Those were the only Hostess treats I liked as a kid. The Twinkies were too sweet and the Ding Dongs tasted like wax. I will definitely be making these!

Side note, I love the way you write.


Can You Stay for Dinner October 27, 2010 at 10:57 am

Janetha, that means the world to me that you enjoy reading (even if I’m speaking in an oddly affectionate way about chocolate). Thank you so very much!!


fittingbackin October 27, 2010 at 8:56 am

You make this look easy with the pictures but I think it takes a major skill to have them look so good! And i’d never heard of “blooming” – very cool!


Can You Stay for Dinner October 27, 2010 at 10:58 am

Thank you!!


Megan (Braise The Roof) October 27, 2010 at 9:38 am

Dangerous. That’s what you are. Those really look like the real deal! Only better because there’s no plastic wrapper to mess up the icing. By the way, I can’t believe you take those beautiful photos with a point and shoot! You are so skilled!


Di October 27, 2010 at 10:08 am

Those look amazing. And they look so easy to make! I’m sure they’re not, but you’re doing a good job of making it look that way. ;) I want a cupcake now…yum.


Can You Stay for Dinner October 27, 2010 at 10:59 am

Thank you Di!!!


spabettie October 27, 2010 at 10:17 am

these are PERFECT ! I am positive they are SO much better than the store bought… I starred this in my reader and will be making ! (do I say that all the time here???) :D


Can You Stay for Dinner October 27, 2010 at 10:58 am

Thank you! I hope you make them and like the results!!


Michelle @ A Whole Lot of Life October 27, 2010 at 11:51 am

Your recipes always bring me back to my childhood! I loved POGS and never once played with them :) Looks DELICIOUS.


Can You Stay for Dinner October 27, 2010 at 11:52 am

Thanks Michelle! But seriously, who really knew how to properly play with pogs? I think it was just a hologram fetish!


lisaou11 October 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I dont even like hostess cupcakes but these things are darn cute!


Lu October 27, 2010 at 1:03 pm

If my husband reads this post he is sure to leave me and go find you. I would be on the lookout for a tall guy running through Seattle yelling “I need homemade Hostess cupcakes, where is this Can You Stay for Dinner person.” Just warning you. Yummy!


Can You Stay for Dinner October 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Love this Lu!! Haha


Shanna October 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Eureka! You have reached narnia and utopia and heaven all at once. I applaud you!

But what did you do with all the decadent centers????


Can You Stay for Dinner October 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I did the only respectable thing one can do with moist, fudgy cake centers: ate them like they were going out of style.


Artemide October 28, 2010 at 2:43 am

Looks delicious and I’d like to try but I have problems with coffee:
1. I cannot drink any coffee due to caffeine which brings me some serious heart problem.
2. I live in Italy and the only coffee we do here is Espresso, which I do not think is suitable for this process.
How do you suggest me to replace the coffee? Any milk or tee?


vamptriana4evr October 28, 2010 at 6:15 am

I would not know what to recommend to replace the coffee but honestly chocolate naturally has caffeine in it also so the coffee in this recipe would not be your only issue, when you divide half a cup of coffee between 12 cupcakes you are only getting about a Tablespoon of coffee in each cake but the chocolate would provide just as much (if not more) caffeine than that small amount of coffee… If the caffeine affects you that badly you might be better off not even attempting this recipe. IMHO…


Can You Stay for Dinner October 28, 2010 at 6:40 am

Hi Artemide! While the amount of coffee per cupcake is only about a tablespoon, so not much at all, you can replace the hot coffee with just-boiled water! The important thing is more melting of the chocolate than imparting coffee flavor. Thanks!


vamptriana4evr October 28, 2010 at 6:18 am

This recipe looks absolutely delectable! LOL I would love to try this sometime but I have to learn your ability to eat only until I am satisfied rather than continuing to stuff myself when I am full just because I like the taste so much. I have to learn to slow down and enjoy my food like you do! LOL


Can You Stay for Dinner October 28, 2010 at 6:38 am

Thanks so much, not only for your sweet words about the cupcakes, but for also answering another reader’s question! I know it can be hard to just stop at one cupcake at the beginning, but there comes a point when you realize- the cupcakes (or desserts in general) are always going to be there. There’s no need to have them out of fear they’re going to be gone tomorrow. Thanks again!!


vamptriana4evr October 28, 2010 at 6:53 am

Thanks! That is a great way to think about it. I will have to try that from here on out. And thanks also for not being offended that I jumped in to answer Artemide’s question. I was hoping that it wouldn’t offend you but I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I know the answer to something! LOL You really are the greatest and your wonderful blog has inspired me to start one of my own! I may never write as well (or engagingly) as you do but maybe someday people will like reading my blog almost as much as they like reading yours!


tina October 28, 2010 at 6:45 am

I’m sure sometime soon I’ll end up trying these too! Your recipes are awesome! Thanks for posting them!


Erin @ Pieholes & Plyos October 28, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Are you kidding me? Wow. Would be interesting to see a side-by-side comparison of the ingredients in your ‘Hostess’ cupcakes vs. all of the processed nonsense and preservatives in theirs.

I really love how you post recipes for real food and then preach moderation. We don’t have to give up everything that tastes good to stay healthy!

For anyone who can resist, I bet those cut-out centers would freeze well and do a mighty service to a trifle or parfait or other layered dessert down the line….


Can You Stay for Dinner October 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Thanks so much Erin! It’s all about the real food and the moderation!


joannatv January 27, 2011 at 8:06 pm

You’re a food genius! In the words of Rachael Ray…yum-o!


Mel February 25, 2011 at 12:44 am

Hrm, I’m rather disappointed no one has commented *after* making these! I really want to know if they’re actually anything like what they’re imitating.

I’m rather thinking not. The top “glaze” isn’t right for them (it’s a solid-like layer, not like frosting, ya know), buttercream seems like it’d be too thick & sweet for them, etc. Which, don’t get me wrong, is not to say that these wouldn’t be good!! They sound lovely and I’m sure I will be making them at some point, because hello, yummy homemade chocolate cupcakes, with special creamy centers & special glaze? Hell yes! LOL. I imagine they probably taste tons better than the real thing. …However, I do love Hostess Cupcakes, so ya know, I just wanted to know if I should go in with the mindset of “yummy cupcakes, but not Hostess.” haha. Yeah, I know, I’m a weirdo. =P


Can You Stay for Dinner February 25, 2011 at 7:28 am

Thanks for the feedback Mel! Yes, they’re much more decadent than Hostess!


Mel February 25, 2011 at 8:06 am

Welcome! Yeah, I mean they sound utterly delicious, and I can’t wait to try them out! I just don’t think they’d be all that Hostessy, lol.


mandee August 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm

I made them, used Chobani instead of sour cream and honey instead ofncorn syrup… I think they taste like a hostess cupcake but less fake, if that makes sense… I mixed powdered sugar in with the ganache to make it more frosting like and they were PERFECT. trying to recreate them right now for a picnic actually! You can see my pix on my blog if you want: http://Mandeelicious.wordpress.com.


Melis October 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm

1. I love that you man-hand’d.
2. Totally making these.



Melissa October 3, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Is there a way I could substitute out the canola oil or corn syrup for something else?


Jacqueline November 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Saw you on Pinterest! Isn’t it fun that this much later you have traffic to your post because of Pinterest! I just love it and my traffic has multiplied to my blog since Pinterest. Your remembrances have my mouth watering, but I have a strong feeling that this is going to taste much much better! Duh – real butter and real chocolate!


diana November 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I made these for my son’s second birthday and they were the most fantastic thing I’ve ever made. They were super easy thanks to your instructions and they were sooooo yummy. It seems that you gave two separate ways to make the shiny frosting aka the ganache or were these two different toppings? Either way, I followed the directions for the chocolate glaze. Two thumbs way up on ease of creating these and the taste. Thanks for sharing your recipe! I will definately be making these again.


Michelle M December 30, 2011 at 6:46 am

I made these for Christmas this year, and I received so many compliments! These cupcakes are absolutely delicious! I’ve never heard so many people say, “this is the best cupcake that I’ve ever had”. Thanks for sharing, they were such a huge hit!!!


Jackie W. February 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I just bought all my ingredients and I am going to make these to take to a superbowl party! I will let everyone know how they turn out, I am notoriously bad at trying out a recipe my first time and having them turn out well… but keep your fingers crossed for me!


Jackie Welling February 6, 2012 at 12:22 am

Of course, my first time trying this recipe didn’t work out at all. I followed the directions to a tee, the coffee, everything, but pulled them out of the oven and they were overflowing my cupcake pan, and sunken in the middle. I let them cool and salvaged them by cutting them out of the pan, and the cake itself was very good, so chocolatey and moist, but TOO moist, I definitely could not have cut out the middle and then frosted them with the ganache, they were like putty cupcakes. I am in Utah, should I have adjusted somehow for elevation? I just frosted them as much as I could and served them, but I was so excited to make them how you make them, help?


tiffany March 3, 2012 at 9:41 am

I’m in ut too and had the same problem(but oh were they delectable!!!!). I’m going to try them again today and add more flour and another egg- that seems to be what all the boxed stuff has you do for higher elevation.


tiffany March 4, 2012 at 7:55 am

I added an extra egg and an extra cup of flour. They were delicious. Not as good as the original recipe- the chocolate might need some “tweaking” but still yummy and functional for the recipe……………..


Kari February 4, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Ugh! Mine are all sunken and overflowy, too!! I’m in Seattle so I don’t think elevation is an issue. What went wrong? I am still eating them by the way. :)


Jane February 5, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Love this recipe….can I print it without all the comments? It just takes so much paper to print out with comments…thanks!!


admin February 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Hey Jane,

Thank you for the kind comment! I am currently working on a print feature for recipes. For the time being, I’d suggest copying and pasting the recipe itself into a Word document and printing that, so that you can avoid printing all of the other parts of the blog.



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