Homemade hostess chocolate cupcakes that are healthier than the originals, and delicious with a soft chocolate cake, fluffy buttercream filling, and chocolate icing top with signature icing squiggle. Dairy free and gluten free, and perfect for vegans too!
Homemade Hostess chocolate cupcakes made with a delicious chocolate cake and filled with a sweet white filling, just like the commercial snack cake. My homemade recipe has a devil's food chocolate texture and the fluffy frosting filling tastes just as sweet as the iconic version's processed marshmallow filling.
This Hostess chocolate cupcake is healthier than the store bought version because just like my homemade Ding Dong recipe, it uses pumpkin puree instead of eggs and oil. This makes this deliciously moist cupcake dairy-free and gluten-free so everyone can eat it, and these changes elevate the flavor of this classic cupcake. 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 are easy to make. Even the chocolate 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 makes the perfect container for a delicious vanilla creme.
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 is made healthier with ingredients suitable for everyone who wants to eat healthier as well as vegan and gluten free.
Flour. Use all purpose flour, or a gluten-free baking flour. You can also use oat flour which is naturally gluten free and for the 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.
Apple Sauce & Pumpkin Puree. I use canned puree and unsweetened apple sauce. Both replace eggs and oil. You can also use canned sweet potato or butternut squash or even substitute more of one for the other. Do not mistake pumpkin puree for pumpkin pie puree - 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 vanilla cream and the frosting used for the squiggle is a white frosting.
- mixing bowl
- cupcake pan
- cupcake liners
- frosting bag
- frosting tip
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 butter in the frosting, I have used Spectrum organic shortening - it's white so helps keep the inside vanilla creme as white as in traditional hostess cupcakes. Here is the white frosting recipe I used.
Instead of coconut milk in the chocolate frosting top, I have used almond milk, it makes the frosting a little less thick.
How to Make
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.
Make the Filling & 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.
Make the Chocolate 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, draw on a white squiggle.
1. Add the batter using only 1 ½ scoops from a medium-sized ice cream scoop. This will fill the cupcake 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.
How to Store
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 last longer at room temperature.
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.
Are Hostess Cupcakes Still Available?
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. [source]
Can You Fill Cupcakes Before Baking?
You must actually fill cupcakes after baking or else the filling will soak into the cake and disappear.
What is the filling in a Hostess Cupcake made of?
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.