Homemade Hostess cupcakes, made with a rich devil's food cake, vanilla cream center and a smooth chocolate top, are healthier version of this nostalgic treat, and surprisingly easy to make, including the signature icing swirl.
Homemade Hostess cupcakes, made homemade, have the same delicious taste as the iconic snack from childhood! These healthier Hostess chocolate cupcakes are healthier than the store bought version. And just like my homemade Ding Dong recipe, this Hostess cupcakes recipe goes further. Using pumpkin puree instead of eggs and oil and other health ingredients, they are dairy-free and gluten-free. This makes them a healthier copycat dessert, just like my milano cookies and samoa cookies.
Why You'll Love These
Quick & easy to make. These one-bowl homemade 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.
Flour. Use oat flour for the extra fiber, protein and vitamins. You can buy oat flour by the bag, or simply grind down rolled oats in your blender. This flour is naturally gluten-free. All purpose flour also works, just use less.
Unsweetened Cocoa. The chocolate flavor depends heavily on the cocoa you choose. Use dutch process for the quintessential dark color of Hostess cupcakes.
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 oat flour, you can use all purpose flour, just use less of it, 1 ½ cup instead of 2 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 lush.
How to Make
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.
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 into 16-18 cupcake papers lining a pan.
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 a can of coconut milk in hot water on the stove. Stir so the cream is melted into the milk. Pour ½ cup of the hot milk 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.
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
- Chocolate Ding Dongs
- Chocolate Thin Mints
- Samoa Cookies
- Lemon Cupcakes (with lemon curd)
- Fudge Striped Cookies
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Homemade Hostess Cupcakes
- 2 cups oat flour or 1 ½ cups of all purpose or a GF baking flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dairy-free milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree, canned
- 3 tablespoon unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache Top
- ⅓ cup dairy-free milk full fat coconut milk creates best gloss
- 1 cup chocolate chips
Vanilla Creme Filling & Squiggle
- 1 batch white frosting My recipe here
- 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 mix until smooth. You are looking to melt the sugar.1 cup organic cane sugar, 1 cup dairy-free milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ⅓ cup pumpkin puree, canned, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 3 tablespoon unsweetened apple sauce
- Add the dry ingredients. I add mine through a strainer if my cocoa is clumpy.2 cups oat flour, ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Mix up the batter.
- 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.
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 chocolate chips
- If using canned coconut milk, put the open can in a pot of water and heat the water to a boil, stirring the milk occasionally. This will help the solid fat melt and warm the milk. If you are using another dairy free milk, microwave it to warm it, about 60 seconds.⅓ cup dairy-free milk
- Then pour the milk into the melted chocolate and stir until creamy. And pour it 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 tiny writing tip #5 or cut a small opening to use for writing the squiggle.1 batch white frosting
- Once the chocolate top is dry, add writing or swirls.
- 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.
- To store cupcakes long term, assemble them and then pack them in an air-tight container and freezer for a month.
Could you possibly use Splenda in replace of sugar to lower the sugar consumption? If so, what would the nutritional value be?
The sugar is actually pretty low in this recipe. I have never worked with sugar substitutes, but if you try it, let us know how it goes!
Dee is there a way to substitute the oat flour? I cannot even have GF all-purpose as it often has rice and chickpea. Wondering because I want a cupcake for my birthday. I cannot do the filling or the frosting, but I love the recipe for this cake. What do you think?
Julie! Of course, you can use 1 ½ cups of all purpose. Or let me know if there is a different flour you need to use.