Hostess-Style Cup Cake

When I was a kid, one of my greatest treats was a Hostess Cup Cake; sweet, chocolatey, plus they came in packages of two. But I have never bought my kids a Hostess Cupcake, because, as an adult, I know that the soft texture has more to do with chemicals than freshness. Together with my kids I watched the episode of Cooks Country where they made an improved version of the Hostess Cupcake. By the end of the episode they were happily moaning about how delicious they looked. So I made them for a friends birthday (her 32nd b-day, I think, wink, wink).  The filling is made with marshmallow fluff, butter and unflavored gelatin. The signature squiggle is made from the same filling mixture. The cupcake is moist, and more delicate that the Hostess original. They turned out great; 4-stars.

Moist and chocolatey, but a lighter, chemical-free texture.


  1. Since I have my espresso machine and no instant espresso, I substituted the hot water and instant espresso called for in the recipe with 1/2-cup of real espresso.
  2. Chris Kimball says to grease and flour the muffin tin. Because my tin is so old, I used cupcake wrappers to avoid the obvious sticking that would have occurred.
  3. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can use a regular plastic baggie and cut a tiny hole from one corner.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $3.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 2:30 PM. Finish time 4:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here (registration required; but no credit card). The descriptions of how I prepared them today are given below:

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon instant espresso
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 325-degrees. Either grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with cupcake wrappers. Remove 4 tablespoons of butter from refrigerator to allow to soften.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk hot water, cocoa, chocolate chips, and instant espresso until the mixture becomes smooth. Add sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until all ingredients are just combined.
  4. Whisk flour mixture into wet ingredients until incorporated. Evenly divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups.
  5. Bake at 325-degrees for 18 to 22 minutes; a toothpick inserted into cupcake will come out with just a few dry crumbs. Cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes, then turn them out and finish cooling completely on a wire rack while you make the filling.

Filling Ingredients:
3 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
4  tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups marshmallow fluff

  1. To make the filling, add 3 tablespoons water in large, microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin and let gelatin soften for 5 minutes.
  2. Microwave for 30 seconds until it begins bubbling around edges. Mix in butter, vanilla, and salt.
  3. Let mixture cool for 5 minutes until it is barely warm to the touch. Using a whisk, mix in marshmallow fluff until smooth. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes to allow it to set.
  4. Set aside 1/3 cup to a pastry bag fitted with small plain tip. The remaining mixture is for filling the cupcakes.

Chocolate Glaze Ingredients:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3  tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate and butter for 30 seconds, stirring twice.
  2. Cool glaze for 10 minutes until it reaches room temperature.
  3. Cut a cone from the top of each cupcake, placing it beside the cup cake; each top will only fit the cupcake from which it was cut. Add 1 tablespoon of filling to each cupcake. Replace the tops . Frost the cupcakes with the chocolate glaze and allow to harden for 15 minutes.
  4. Using your pastry bag, squeeze curlicues across the top of each cupcakes.

4 Responses to Hostess-Style Cup Cake

  1. Valerie Munson-Drohobycky says:

    These look so yummy! Love the idea of the healthier and tastier version of a classic. A real treat.

  2. megan says:

    this is wonderful, glad they were such a hit! there is something so special about re-creating childhood memories into “real” food, that you don’t have to feel so gross about eating.

    And speaking of gross – I frequently have to drive past the hostess factory and it usually smells like cheap, fatty hamburgers and nasty grocery store frosting. sure doesn’t make me want to open one of those crinkly plastic bags!

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