Hostess Cupcakes

May 28, 2014
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 18 cupcakes
Author Notes

The Hostess Cupcake is second perhaps only to the Twinkie and is best known for its oddly alluring plastic-like chocolate frosting with white squiggles, which spreads across the top like a bedspread, hiding the chocolate crumb cake and creamy center beneath. The frosting is often eaten as its own rightful snack, peeled away, considered, nibbled on, perhaps put back, maybe set to rest on a desk while you make your way into the cake. Or, if you do as one kid at my third grade lunch table preferred, you can dip it into your milk with the dim hope that somehow it will transform into chocolate milk. (Of course, this does not work--the frosting bit will instead float and bob, like a lonely chocolate seahorse, in the paper milk carton.)

This recipe is close to any standard cupcake version you may have on hand, but it is infused with cream and then dipped in chocolate, which sounds like a lot of work, but it all goes pretty quickly.

Recipe excerpted from Treat Yourself: 70 Classic Snacks You Loved as a Kid (and Still Love Today) (Clarkson Potter, 2014). —Jestei

What You'll Need
  • For the Cupcakes and Filling
  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup natural cocoa powder, such as Hershey's Baking Cocoa
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup marshmallow fluff
  • 1/3 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • For the Frosting and Decoration
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 6- and 12-muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Make the cupcake batter: In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, cream the 2 sticks of butter and the granulated sugar together at medium speed just until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix just until combined. In a measuring cup, stir 1/2 the cup of hot water and the cocoa together until smooth. Add the cocoa mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed for an additional 10 seconds.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With teh mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in batches alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and beating after each addition until the ingredients are just blended.
  4. Fill each prepared muffin cup half full with chocolate batter. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Make the filling: Using a clean bowl and a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, beat the marshmallow fluff, the 1/3 cup butter, and the 1/3 cup of powdered sugar together until combined and fluffy, about 1 minute. Using the handle of a small fork or spoon, make a hole in the top center of each cake. Gently rotate the utensil in each hole to create a small cavity at each opening. Transfer the filling to a piping bag and pipe in just enough marshmallow mixture to fill each hole. As with the Twinkie, you want a firm grasp on your cupcake as you infuse it with the filling, so as not to allow it to explode; once you feel it growing in size, stop infusing. Use a wet fingertip or the back of a spoon to tamp down any marshmallow peaks, ensuring that the filling is even with the top of the cupcake.
  6. Make the frosting: In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until bubbles form at the edges. Add the chocolate morsels and remove the pan from the heat, stirring until the chocolate melts. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and continue to stir until smooth. Let cool for three minutes. Transfer the chocolate to a large deep glass bowl. Dip the top of each cupcake into the chocolate to coat, letting the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Let the cupcakes rest on a wire rack set over newspapers until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
  7. Make the frosting decoration: In a small bowl, beat the 1/4 cup butter and the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar together until smooth, about two minutes. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag and decorate the top of each cupcake with a curlicue pattern. Serve immediately. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Haley Sonneland
    Haley Sonneland
  • Ricardo
  • DK Smith
    DK Smith
  • Colin

8 Reviews

Ricardo January 10, 2016
This is a very frustrating recipe. I was excited to try it. Once I was blending the sugar and butter and ready to add the cocoa, the 1/2 cup hot water line threw me. Is there more water to be added? I only used the 1/2 cup, but i ended up throwing out the cupcakes because they were hard and dense. Very disappointing.
DK S. July 1, 2015
Land of Lakes has started dividing their former sticks into 2 smaller sticks. Could someone give the amount in cups or even better ounces please?
Haley S. July 1, 2015
Hi DK - each stick should be 8 T. Trader Joe's recently changed to two smaller sticks too, but they're actually wider so still the same about of butter. I just put these in the oven a little while ago and the cake tastes great! I followed Colin's advice below and used an extra 1/4 c of water in my cocoa mixture but otherwise kept everything the same. Hope that helps!
Colin August 26, 2014
A pretty good recipe. Still seems slightly incomplete as mentioned before, but usable for the end result. Only problems i had were the mention of hot water in step 2, not listed in the ingredients and the text is misleading. When trying to mix the cocoa with the 1/2 cup of hot water (in text says "1/2 the cup of hot water", after quickly scanning the text and finding not mention of the other half i took this for a typo and tried with 1/2 cup of hot water from tap), the mixure comes out very lumpy, i ended up addinf another 1/4 cup of water to get a smooth consistency before adding to the sugar/butter/egg mixure. Other than that the only thing that didnt follow with the recipe was the quantity. Says it makes 18 cupcakes, no mention of size that i saw though from pictures i believed it to yeild 18 "normal" cupcakes. In actuality i ended up with 30 "normal" sized cupcakes, filling the tins slightly more than half way.

As a side note, i also directly substituted King Arthur Flour 's Gluten Free multi-purpose flour. First time using this flour, so its possible it accounted for the change in quantity though i havnt tried with regular flour as of yet. Made not other changes except for the extra water mentioned above. The cupcakes turned out fine, taste great (for gluten free baked goods; has slightly different texture and not as moist). They hold togeather longer kept in a sealed container in the fridge as well.
Overall id say a solid 4/5(for my gluten free varient)
Kudos to Jestei for the recipe!
Juliebell June 4, 2014
Looks like the recipe has been reworked to be complete.
Cee June 2, 2014
my favorite hostess treat is hostess cupcakes! that's why it would be great to have the complete recipe. It seems like some steps are missing in this recipe
bookjunky June 2, 2014
Seems like half of the instructions are missing, such as: what to do with the flour (presumably add to batter), marshmallow fluff (throw in the trash?) and a whole host of other ingredients.
Cee June 2, 2014
If you click on jestei name above you will be directed to her page and under the recipe tab you will find a picture of the cupcakes click on it and you will see the full recipe. I hope that helps