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Home-Made “Hostess” Cupcakes–Worth Every Minute!

on August 23, 2012

(Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe by Nigella Lawson, from The Food Network, Copyright 2004)

Cook’s Note: The original Nigella recipe is for a 2 layer 8″ round cake but I use the same batter for cupcakes. I’ve made changes in () so that the recipe directions and cooking times reflect baking cupcakes. –G


•1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
•1 cup sugar
•1 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•1/3 cup best-quality dark cocoa
•1 1/2 sticks soft unsalted butter
•2 large eggs
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•2/3 cup sour cream


Take everything out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients can come room temperature for 20-30 minutes prior.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

(Prepare pan by placing cupcake tins in cupcake pan holes.)

Put all the cake ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream into a food processor and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla, and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.

(Cook’s Note: Both of her batter methods work. For me, out of habit, I use the tradtional two bowl method of sifting dry ingredients together in one bowl, creaming the wet ingredients in my mixer bowl, and then adding the dry ingredients in a couple of batches into the creamed butter/egg/etc until incorporated and batter is smooth–about 2 minutes. –G)

Fill cupcake tins 1/2 full by spoon or by cookie dipper (like an ice cream dipper only smaller–very useful tool!) Don’t overfill the cupcake holders. To look like “Hostess” cupcakes you want the surface to be barely rounded and not over the edge of the cupcake paper rim. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until cupcake top resists when lightly touched but not pulling away from the sides. See one of my previous posts, Let’s Talk Serioulsy About Cake for more detail about how bake cake without overbaking for the best results.

The Marshmallow Filling

Recipe by Glenna Anderson Muse


3 cups powdered sugar

1 stick butter, room temp

2 Tbsp whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup marshmallow cream


With a mixer, cream powdered sugar, a little at a time, into butter and cream until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla. Mix in marshmallow cream until light, fluffy, and smooth.

The Chocolate Frosting (Ganache)

Recipe by Glenna Anderson Muse

Cook’s Note: Make this LAST, after cupcakes have been cooled and filled because once it’s made, you’ll want to ice the cupcakes while it’s still warm. –G


12 oz Dark Chocolate chips (such as Hershey’s “Special Dark”)

4 Tbsp butter, room temp

1 cup whipping cream, set out 20-30 minutes prior to knock the chill off

1 Tbsp good quality vanilla (yes, tbsp not tsp)


In double boiler, carefully heat chocolate chips until melted. Immediately whisk in other three ingredients until smooth. (Can leave on double boiler for a while to keep warm or can reheat as needed to use as pouring icing. Will harden as cools.)

Finishing The Cupcakes:

Using a pastry bag and any medium border tip (Wilton #10 round or #21 shell) or specialty pastry tip filled with “the filling”, pipe approximately 1 tsp full into each cooled cupcake. (I used a pastry filler tip but it doesn’t have a number on the side, not sure where I got it.)

While ganache is still warm, dollop by teaspoon full over cupcakes and allow to spread out. (This is why smaller cupcakes that don’t rise above the edges of the liner work better.) May also use the back of the spoon to spread out over top. The heated frosting will leave the cupcake top smooth and shiny when it cools. If ganache begins to get too thick, reheat on top of double boiler until thinner.

Allow ganache to cool and harden.

Using pastry bag and round writing tip (Wilton #5) and leftover marshmallow filling, pipe signature curly cue line onto top of each cupcake. (May mix in another few tablespoons of powdered sugar into leftover filling for firmer frosting if desired, but if you do, sift the powdered sugar first and make sure there are no lumps or you’ll have trouble piping the lines through the small tip.)

Voila! Home-made “Hostess” cupcakes!

Makes approx 30 cupcakes.

Final Cook’s Note: There is a medium place, a Sandra Lee version, that’s less time-consuming than this but still more home-made than buying the box. You could use a cake mix for the cupcakes…or you could mix a half can of commercially made white frosting with a half jar of marshmallow cream…or you could use commercially made chocolate fudge frosting by simply warming the frosting in the microwave until it’s a spoonable, pourable icing. Would it be as good as the from scratch version? No but will it be better than the boxed version? Yes! And it still counts as home-made.


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