Back to School “Hostess” Cupcakes

It’s that time of year again! School starts back up this week, and I have to admit, it’s about time! Since I was a little girl, I’ve always looked forward to the start of a new school year, but this year, the whole family has been counting the days! Of course, yesterday was actually supposed to be the first day of school, but it was cancelled yesterday and today due to Hurricane Earl. As I said yesterday, we lost power and internet for the majority of the day, but by the time Earl had escalated to a Category 4, he had moved off to the northwest, leaving us with very minimal damage to clean up around our home, but more damage around the island. We’re keeping our eyes on Tropical Storm Fiona now, which is expected to head our way by the end of the week. For now, though, things are quieting down and there are treats to be made (and eaten)!

With all of the stress and strain of moving overseas this summer, the normal routine that a school year brings with it will be very welcome. Plus, our poor boy has had some very lonely few months. As an extroverted, social kid, this summer has been especially tough on him. He’s very much looking forward to meeting new friends tomorrow, and getting involved in some extracurricular activities, as well. He’s nervous for the first time ever, but I suppose that’s to be expected. After all, he isn’t just starting a new school…he’s starting high school!

In honor of the start of school tomorrow, I wanted to make something that reminded me of school lunches and after school snacks. What’s more memorable than finding a special treat from your mom at lunch? Something like a Hostess Cupcake! Or, in this case, a “fauxstess” cupcake!

These are even better than the real thing, though. The mass produced, pre-packaged variety that you get in the grocery store aren’t awful, but they aren’t exactly delicious either. The cake tends to be dry, while the filling is overpoweringly sweet, and the frosting on top is flat tasting. These homemade cakes are moist and chocolate-y, the filling is the perfect amount of sweetness and creaminess to balance the cake, and the frosting is rich and smooth. And, bonus, they can be made vegan!

For the cupcakes, you’ll need all-purpose flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt for the dry ingredients.

The wet ingredients include vanilla, apple sauce, canola oil, water, and milk (non-dairy, for vegan).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine oil and sugar; mix well. Stir in the apple sauce and vanilla. Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Slowly pour in the water, mixing on low until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just mixed. Slowly add the milk and beat on low until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and mix for another 15 to 20 seconds.Fill each cupcake liner with two tablespoons of batter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a crumb or two clinging to it. Allow to cool completely before filling or frosting.

To make filling for these, you’ll need confectioners’ sugar, marshmallow spread, softened unsalted butter (margarine for vegan), and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the vanilla and pinch of salt. Mix in the marshmallow spread and whisk until light and fluffy.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to fill the cupcakes, fill a disposable decorator bag, fitted with a cupcake filling tip (or large writing tip, I use a Wilton #7), with the chilled filling. Insert the tip into the center of the cupcake and squeeze to fill. The cupcake is full when you can feel the filling push back against the tip (it will slowly force the decorating tip out of the cupcake). You can also use an apple corer to core out a small portion of the center of the cupcake and fill with the filling, then replace the cored out piece (or a portion of it). I prefer the first method because it’s faster, and it’s also easier to frost in the next step, but the second method allows you to put much more filling in your cupcakes. If you get a small mound of filling on top of your cupcakes, just use a small offset spatula to swipe it off. If it’s crumb-free, scrape it back into the remaining filling (you’ll use the remaining filling to decorate the tops). Otherwise, discard it.

For the frosting on top of the cupcakes, you’ll need light corn syrup, vanilla, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and softened unsalted butter (margarine for vegan).

In a small bowl set over an inch or two of lightly simmering water, melt the butter, chips, and corn syrup until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Or in a medium, microwave-safe bowl, heat at 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until completely melted and glossy. Stir in the vanilla. Cover and chill for 15 to 30 minutes until thickened slightly.

To frost the filled cupcakes, simply turn them upside down and dip them in the chocolate frosting to coat the tops completely. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you can spoon small amounts of frosting on the tops, while gently turning the cupcake to allow the frosting to coat the tops all the way to the edges.

Once all of the cupcakes are frosted, chill for 15 to 20 minutes before decorating.

To decorate the cupcakes, use the remaining filling and pipe it on in a swirled design. I used a Wilton #4 writing tip for mine. I recommend practicing this step on a clean plate, or even right into the bowl containing the filling. For the classic “Hostess” swirl, start at the middle edge of the cupcake on one side and sweep up into a somewhat loose swirl across the cake to the other edge. If you make the swirl too tight, it may run together. Fun fact: the original Hostess Cupcake has seven distinct loops on top! Once you’ve decorated all of the cupcakes, replace them in the refrigerator to chill for 30 to 45 minutes. I actually prefer these cold, so I leave them in the refrigerator from this point on. They are also very delicious frozen!

You can also write on the cupcakes. To make them reminiscent of the swirled design, just make sure to start the word (no matter how big or small) at the edge of the cupcake on one side and end it at the edge on the opposite side.

This filling kills me. Seriously, I died after taking this bite. Then I came back to life to take the picture for you guys. Then I ate the rest of the cupcake and died again.

These seem more labor intensive than they really are. They’re actually quite quick and very easy! Without chilling times, you can have them mixed, baked, filled, and frosted in about an hour or less! If you like Hostess products, these are definitely something you must try! Enjoy!

Cream-filled Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 30 Cupcakes

Ingredients

*to make these vegan, substitute milk with non-dairy milk, butter with margarine, and use vegan marshmallow spread, as well as other vegan ingredients)*

FOR THE CUPCAKES
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups applesauce
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE FILLING
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt
1 1/4 cups marshmallow spread

FOR THE FROSTING
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine oil and sugar; mix well. Stir in the apple sauce and vanilla. Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Slowly pour in the water, mixing on low until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just mixed. Slowly add the milk and beat on low until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and mix for another 15-20 seconds.

Fill each cupcake liner with 2 tablespoons of batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a crumb or 2 clinging to it. Allow to cool completely before filling or frosting.

To make the filling: In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the vanilla and pinch of salt. Mix in the marshmallow spread and whisk until light and fluffy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill until slightly thickened, up to 30 minutes.

To make the frosting: In a small bowl set over an inch or two of lightly simmering water, melt the butter, chips, and corn syrup until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Or in a medium, microwave-safe bowl, heat at 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until completely melted and glossy. Stir in the vanilla. Cover and chill for 20-30 minutes until thickened slightly.

Assemble cupcakes: Fill a disposable decorator bag, fitted with a cupcake filling tip (or large writing tip, I use a Wilton #7), with the chilled filling. Insert the tip into the center of the cupcake and squeeze to fill. The cupcake is full when you can feel the filling push back against the tip (it will slowly force the decorating tip out of the cupcake).

OR use an apple corer to core out a small portion of the center of the cupcake and fill with the filling, then replace the cored out piece (or a portion of it). If you get a small mound of filling on top of your cupcakes, just use a small offset spatula to swipe it off. If it’s crumb-free, scrape it back into the remaining filling (you’ll use the remaining filling to decorate the tops).

Turn the cupcakes upside down and dip them in the chocolate frosting to coat the tops completely. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you can spoon small amounts of frosting on the tops, while gently turning the cupcake to allow the frosting to coat the tops all the way to the edges. Chill  for 15 to 20 minutes before decorating.

Use the remaining filling and pipe it on top of the cupcakes in a swirled design. I used a Wilton #4 writing tip for mine. I recommend practicing this step on a clean plate, or even right into the bowl containing the filling. For the classic “Hostess” swirl, start at the middle edge of the cupcake on one side and sweep up into a somewhat loose swirl across the cake to the other edge. If you make the swirl too tight, it may run together. Once you’ve decorated all of the cupcakes, replace them in the refrigerator to chill for 30 to 45 minutes.

Recipes by Darla

 

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Comments

  1. bttrflybabydoll says

    Mine taste great, but I don't have a good tip for writing on mine like you do. I need to invest in some more tips in order to decorate things properly. Thanks!

  2. Meg says

    I definitely have to make these! Just FYI, after dealing with my infant's dairy intolerance for several months now, not all semi-sweet chocolate chips are vegan. Many are made with some kind of milk product. :)

  3. Happy Cook says

    I am sure gonna try this, my daughter just started college and I am gonna surprise her with these cute delcious cupcakes when i visit her.

  4. April says

    Out of all the faux hostess cupcakes I've seen….these are the best! Just beautiful. Plan on making these ones for my sons. Thanks!

  5. Sugarbear says

    @Maria – Unfortunately, I don't have a recipe specifically for those, but I'm really happy you brought them to my attention! I have never ever heard of Hostess orange cupcakes before! And now I totally feel cheated!

    I don't have the specific recipe, but maybe this is something you could try:

    * Use this for the orange cake and orange frosting.

    The cake batter from that recipe is normally divided in half and has chocolate added to it, but you can just keep it all together, skip the chocolate and double the orange ingredients.

    As for the frosting (from the same link above), try making it with about half the sugar. You should end up with something that is about the same consistency as the chocolate frosting from the fauxstess cupcakes above. You can work with the amounts of sugar vs. milk until you feel that the consistency is right.

    And of course, you can use the filling from my original fauxstess cupcakes, above.

    I know this isn't as helpful as having the recipe for you, but I hope you'll give it a try! As for me, you've inspired me to try making them myself, and I'll definitely share my results!

    Thanks!

  6. Anonymous says

    These look a lot like the began Fauxstess Cupcakes that Isa Chandra Moskowitz includes in her book "Vegan with a Vengeance". Is this where you got the recipe?

    Just curious – I would hate to copy the recipe down if I already have it in the book!

    Thanks!
    Kristen

  7. Sugarbear says

    @Kristen- This recipe is my own evil creation! :) I'm glad they seem similar, though…that means I must be doing something right!!

    I have Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, but not Vegan with a Vengeance…I'm thinking I should check it out!!

  8. Mrs B says

    I'm really curious as to where you can find -vegan- marshmallow spread!

    Please do share (in an email if it's easier) the name(s) of such brand(s)!!

  9. Darla says

    @Erin – If you eat eggs, you can replace the apple sauce with 3 eggs. Otherwise, use 3 tablespoons ground flaxseeds combined with 1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon water.

    @Mrs B – One example that I've always heard good things about is Ricemellow, available here. I've never had it, but it seems to great reviews online. There are also several homemade recipes available on the Internet.

    Hope this helps.

  10. Tres says

    This is coming up strangely on my screen. All the writing is down the side, beside the pictures in a column. It is many, many pages long and very hard to read.

    These are amazing, though. I made them a few months ago and was told it was my best cupcake creation yet! They were super fun to make, too! I followed the recipe, but got about 50 standard cupcakes. My friends were happy!

  11. says

    I just made these and they are HEAVEN!! I cheated with frosting and put it all in a bowl and microwaved it. I did not get that glossy look but it still tasted good. YUMMMMMMMY!!!!

  12. says

    Hello! Thank you so much for this excellent tutorial! I hope you don’t mind, but I linked it to my blog.
    http://lto2012.blogspot.com/2011/09/homemade-hostess-cupcakes.html

    I love how detailed and step-by-step yours is! I only have 2 constructive comments:
    I had to keep scrolling around for the recipe, the tips, the recipe, the tips. I kept referring back to the tutorial, but because things we’re separated it was difficult. Maybe something to work on for next time. I had to wash my hands each time I wanted to look at the recipe as to not get anything on my computer.

    I wouldn’t chill the cream filling mixture after I make it. Mine got really thick and was difficult to pipe into the cupcakes. I will just make sure to chill them for 20 minutes AFTER I fill them next time.

    Thank you so much!
    Logan

    • says

      Hi Logan, thanks for the tip. This was one of my earlier posts, so I hadn’t quite developed my full style. You’ll notice I’m a little better at things in my newer posts. :) Of course, there’s always more to learn and things to try differently. I have updated the post to include assembly instructions in the actual recipe. Thanks again. :)

      I’m so happy you liked the cupcakes and thank you for sharing them!

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