These homemade Hostess chocolate cupcakes have a rich devil's food cake, a fluffy vanilla cream filling and a chocolate ganache topping. Made within 30 minutes, these copycat cupcakes are dairy free and so much better than the nostalgic after-school treat yet look the same including the signature icing swirl.
Homemade Hostess chocolate cupcakes have a soft chocolate cake texture, a sweet frosting filling, and the squiggle on top - just like the commercial snack cake. The chocolate cupcake has a fluffy chocolate cake texture, and the frosting cupcake filling tastes just as sweet as the iconic version's processed marshmallow whipped cream filling.
This Hostess chocolate cupcake recipe is healthier than the store-bought version because just like my ring ding cakes copycat recipe, and like all my cupcake recipes , including my vegan vanilla cupcakes with applesauce they contain no eggs or oil. I used the same thinking for my other healthier copycat desserts including my milano cookies and Girl Scout copycat samoa cookies.
Why You'll Love These
Quick & easy to make. These one-bowl homemade hostess chocolate cupcakes with cream filling are easy to make. Even the chocolate ganache top is simple, only two ingredients, just mix and dip the cooled cupcakes.
Healthier, fluffy cake texture. Thanks to no oil and milk mixed with lemon juice, the cake texture is light and fluffy. And this hostess cupcake copycat is dairy-free, vegan and gluten-free so everyone can enjoy them.
Tastes better than the original. The original Hostess cupcake is delicious, but using high-quality cocoa as well as other healthier ingredients, makes this homemade version taste better than the classic treat. And this homemade Hostess cupcake doesn't have the preservatives or additives found in the famous snack cake.
Flour. Use all purpose flour, or a gluten-free baking flour. You can also use oat flour which is naturally gluten free and provides extra fiber, protein and vitamins.
Unsweetened Cocoa. The chocolate flavor depends heavily on the cocoa you choose. Use dutch process cocoa if you can for this recipe. That's because it has a sweeter, more mellow flavor and is the quintessential dark color of the classic Hostess cupcake.
Sugar. Organic cane sugar tastes much better than refined white sugar, but either is fine.
Applesauce & Pumpkin Puree. I use canned puree and unsweetened applesauce. Both replace eggs and oil. Do not mistake pumpkin puree for pumpkin pie filling - the latter has added ingredients such as sugar.
Leaveners: baking powder and baking soda.
Milk & Lemon Juice: Creates the acidic environment baking soda needs to create a lighter texture.
Other Essentials: salt and quality vanilla extract.
The chocolate top is simply melted chocolate chips and milk.
The inside filling and the white squiggle are based on a white frosting.
See the recipe card at the bottom for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Instead of all purpose flour, you can use oat flour, just use more of it, 2 cups instead of 1 ½ cups of flour.
Instead of coconut milk in the chocolate ganache top, use any milk, just be sure it warm before adding to the chocolate.
Instead of pumpkin puree, you can use canned sweet potato or butternut squash or more applesauce.
Step by Step Instructions
For more detail, visit the complete recipe at the bottom of this post, but here are general steps.
Make the Cupcakes
1. Add the lemon juice to the milk five minutes before to allow it to curdle. It reacts with the baking soda to create lift. Line a cupcake pans with parchment paper liners.
2. In a bowl, mix up wet ingredients, including sugar.
3. Add in the dry ingredients. Mix with a hand mixer or stand mixer.
4. Scoop batter to fill 16 cupcake wells.
5. Bake and allow the cupcakes to cool completely before filling with cream.
PRO-tip: If the cupcakes dome high above the paper, just press them flat as soon as they come out of the oven.
Add the Cream Filling & Make Squiggle Frosting
1. Cut a cone out of the top center of each cupcake holding a small kitchen knife at an angle. You will not be re-using them on these cupcakes.
2.Make a batch of this white frosting recipe or use your own favorite white frosting. Spoon into cupcakes holes, smooth flat, and add the rest to a ziplock bag or frosting bag, snipped off to create a small tip.
Add the Chocolate Ganache Topping
1.Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Heat the milk and pour onto the melted chips and stir.
2. Dip the cupcakes tops into the chocolate. If your cupcakes have not reached above the cupcake paper, simply spoon the ganache on top. Set cupcakes aside to set.
3. Once the chocolate is set, pipe on the frosting in a white squiggle.
1. Add the batter using only 1 ½ scoops from a medium-sized ice cream scoop. This will fill the cupcake well about ⅔rds so it is the perfect height for that flat top you need to make the perfect hostess cupcake. Sticking to this pattern, you will end up with 16-18 cupcakes.
2. Remember to use pumpkin puree from a can, and not pumpkin pie filling. Sweet potato puree is also fine.
3. Be sure to fill these cupcakes with the cream center after they have been baked and cooled completely otherwise the cream will melt and soak into the cupcake.
4. How to pipe the Hostess cupcake signature swirl. Insert a writing tip into a frosting bag. I use Wilton #3 or #5. Fill the bag with white frosting and angle it over a cupcake that has dried chocolate top. Gently press and pipe the loops from one side to the other, down the center.
Once frosted, the cupcakes are fine at room temperature for about 2 days and then they begin to dry out, primarily because of the oat flour. If you use all-purpose flour, they will.
You can freeze them once assembled and frosted. They seem to last about a month in a sealed container before developing freezer burn but that probably varies with each freezer.
Yes, first launched back decades ago, the original company, Continental Baking went bankrupt around 2012 and stopped making these iconic cupcakes but their buyer went on to rejuvenate the commercial treat.
You must actually fill cupcakes after baking or else the filling will soak into the cake and disappear.
The vanilla cream filling in this recipe is a light white frosting that uses organic sugar and quality vanilla.
Other Copycat Recipes
If you tried this chocolate hostess cupcake recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting!
Homemade Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Mixing bowl
- Hand mixer or stand mixer
- medium sized ice cream scoop
- cupcake pan, paper liners
- 1 ½ cups (190g) all purpose flour or GF baking flour
- ½ cup (25g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup (207g) cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240ml) dairy-free milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅓ cup (75g) pumpkin puree, canned
- ¼ cup (62g) unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache Top
- ⅓ cup (80g) dairy-free milk
- 1 cup (170g) chocolate chips
- Make a batch of your favorite white frosting or use my white frosting recipe.
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Line cupcake pan(s) with 16-18 paper liners.
- Activate your milk by adding lemon juice to it and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- To the large mixing bowl, add the sugar and wet ingredients and use a hand mixer or stand mixer to mix until smooth, about 1 minute or until the sugar is dissolved.1 cup (207g) cane sugar, 1 cup (240ml) dairy-free milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ⅓ cup (75g) pumpkin puree, canned, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ cup (62g) unsweetened apple sauce
- Add the dry ingredients through a strainer if your cocoa is clumpy.1 ½ cups (190g) all purpose flour, ½ cup (25g) unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Mix up the batter with a hand or stand mixer. Mix about 2 minutes or under until just combined.
- Add the batter about ⅔ full to each cupcake liner using a medium cookie scoop or 3-4 tablespoon of batter.
- Bake cupcakes for 16-18 minutes. Or until tester comes out clean. If they dome anyway, press with a spatula while they are hot to flatten.
- Let cool for ten minutes in the pan, then put cupcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes or longer before filling.
Fill the cupcakes
- Cut a cone out of the center of each cooled cupcakes using the tip of knife held at an angle.
- Fill the empty hole with frosting, and spread it smooth on top.1 batch white frosting
Top the cupcakes
- Melt the chocolate chips in a pyrex measuring cup for 1 minute. Stir until all chips are melted. Microwave another 10 seconds if need be.1 cup (170g) chocolate chips
- Microwave dairy free milk about 30 seconds to warm it.⅓ cup (80g) dairy-free milk
- Then pour the milk into the melted chocolate and stir until creamy. And pour the chocolate mixture into a dipping bowl.
- Frost the top of the cupcakes either by dipping or spooning on the glaze.
Add the white swirl
- Add white frosting to a ziplock bag or a frosting bag fitted with a writing tip Wilton #3 or #5 or cut a small opening in the bag to use for piping the looping squiggle.1 batch white frosting
- Once the chocolate top is dry, pipe on the loop in a straight line down the center.
- The cupcakes are fine at room temperature for about 2 days and then they begin to dry out. If you used all purpose flour, they will last a bit longer - oat flour dries out faster. Refrigerate in a sealed container for a week, then freeze for a longer term.
- To store cupcakes long term, assemble them and then pack them in an air-tight container and freezer for a month.