Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

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.


  1. says

    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. :)

  2. says

    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…

  3. says

    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?

    • says

      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.

  4. says

    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!

  5. says

    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.

  6. says

    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!

  7. says

    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.

  8. says

    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???) 😀

  9. says

    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!

  10. says

    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?

    • says

      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…

    • says

      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!

  11. says

    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

    • says

      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!!

      • says

        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!

  12. says

    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….

  13. says

    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

  14. says

    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!

  15. diana says

    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.

  16. Michelle M says

    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!!!

  17. says

    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!

  18. says

    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?

  19. tiffany says

    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.

  20. tiffany says

    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……………..

  21. Kari says

    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. :)

  22. Jane says

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

    • admin says

      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.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *