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.
- 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.
- 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.