Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

Hostess Cupcakes are a popular American snack cake that is typically chocolate cake that is filled with a sweet cream and topped with a hard chocolate coating. It has that telltale squiggly line across the top. The cake is surprisingly moist, but it does lack a bit in the flavor department in terms of chocolate intensity. The cream filling also tends to be overly sweet and has no flavor.

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes


Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cups (118g) water, boiling hot*
  • 1/4 cup (27g) cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 57g or 2 oz of chocolate, finely chopped**
  • 3/4 cups (142g) brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 tsp (5g) kosher salt (Morton's)
  • 1/2 cups (90g) canola oil
  • 1 TB (14g) sour cream
  • 1 tsp (4g) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups (85g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp (6g) baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp (approx 1g) baking powder
  • 1 TB (14g) egg yolk (one yolk)
  • 2 large eggs (100g)

* You can use coffee in place of water, which intensifies the chocolate without adding a coffee flavor. I primarily bake for children, however, and like to limit the amount of caffeine where I can. You can also use decaf, but I never seem to have that on hand.

** Pick whatever chocolate you have on hand/suits your fancy. I LOVE Trader Joe's Pound Plus Dark Chocolate bars. The quality is pretty amazing for baking (and straight up eating). And let's be honest. Chocolate can get expensive. You get more than a pound for, what, $5?


  1. Move your oven rack to the lower third position. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare standard size cupcake trays with paper liners.
  3. In a large mixing bowl add boiling water, cocoa, finely chopped chocolate, brown sugar, and salt. (Make sure the water is boiling so it will fully melt the chocolate.) Whisk until completely combined. SET ASIDE FOR AT LEAST 15 minutes - this allows the chocolate to fully hydrate and give your cakes a rich flavor.
  4. Add oil, sour cream, and vanilla to the bowl of chocolate; whisk until combined.
  5. In a separate small bowl, add flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk for a full 30 seconds to evenly distribute the leaveners into the flour. (It takes longer than you think to mix, so I always use a timer to make sure. Doing this will ensure your cake rises evenly and with a consistent crumb throughout.) Add all the flour to your chocolate mixture and whisk until no flour is visible.
  6. Add the egg yolk(s), whisk, then add the whole eggs one at a time, whisking after every addition just until combined.
  7. This is a fairly runny batter since it is oil-based, so unless you have a pourable mixing bowl, transfer the batter into a very large measuring cup so that it's easy to distribute into your pans.
  8. Fill each liner to about 2/3 full.
  9. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until it is done. (Every oven is different!)
  10. You will know this cake is done when you insert a toothpick and only a few crumbs stick. (If you have an instant-read thermometer, the centers should register about 209 °F.)
  11. Remove the oven and place rack on a cooling rack. I like to tip the cupcakes slightly to the side inside the cupcake pan to let air underneath and help with the cooling.
  12. Once they are cool to the touch, move them to the cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Marshmallow Cream Filling

  • 1/4 cup (60g) fresh egg whites
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • a pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Prepare your double boiler. Make sure you can fit your stand mixer (or other heatproof) bowl on the top so that the bottom is exposed to steam but not directly touching the water. Bring the water beneath to a gentle boil.
  2. To the bowl of your stand mixer (or other heatproof bowl) add egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar. Mix with a spatula. It will be viscous (pretty gooey) and thick. Place on top of the double boiler and check to make sure that the steam is getting to the bottom of the bowl properly.
  3. Continuously stir with the spatula. The eggs will thin out, all the sugar will melt, and the mixture will become more opaque. Use a thermometer to make sure you reach 165. Remove from double boiler.
  4. Place the bowl in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Whisk on high speed until the bowl has cooled to the touch, the meringue has doubled in volume, and starts to ball up around the whisk.
  5. Add vanilla (or vanilla bean seeds or other flavorings) and whisk until combined.
  6. Once cool to room temp, spoon the marshmallow meringue into a piping bag fitted with a round tip nozzle or a ziplock back with the tip cut off.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

  • about 3/4 cup (117g) chopped chocolate
  • about 1/3 cup (79g) heavy cream


*I make my ganache using weights so I've tried my best to approximate volume amounts if you need them. Measure the volume of chocolate after chopping.

*Also, you can use any chocolate you like! I prefer a dark variety, since it is diluted with cream, which will lessen the bitterness of dark chocolates. I've even used leftover Halloween candy for ganache.

  1. Heat heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup until very warm but not boiling.
  2. Add the heavy cream to a bowl a your chopped chocolate. The smaller your chocolate pieces, the more evenly and quicker it will melt.
  3. Once the chocolate is melted, and smooth and shiny, place in fridge until completely cooled and somewhat hardened, at least 30 minutes.
  4. Using a mixer on high speed, whip the ganache until it is fluffy and lighter in color.

Cupcake Assembly

  1. After the cupcakes have cooled, use a paring knife or coring tool to remove cylinders from the center of each cupcake. Reserve a portion of the tops if you want a clean look.
  2. Pipe marshmallow cream into the centers, leaving a small gap at the top to plug the holes.
  3. Frost each cupcake with a little over a TB of ganache.
  4. Add sprinkles if you like!


Hi! I'm Adriana.

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