Hostess Cupcake Copycat aka “Fauxstess” Cupcakes

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A couple of years ago, Hostess Brands, Inc., the company that made the iconic Hostess cupcakes, Ho Hos, and Twinkies, not to mention Wonder Bread—helps build strong bodies 12 ways! (whatever that meant)—declared bankruptcy; and it was unclear whether the brand would be resurrected by another company.  Evidently, it has—but, as they say, it don’t make no never mind to me.

Even though I ate my share of Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies as a baby boomer kid, I’ve never missed them as an adult.  As far as Hostess cupcakes potentially disappearing from the marketplace, all it meant to me was that I needed to find a copycat recipe for any time I was in the mood to go retro.

As it so happened, Jill, my friend and fellow foodie, made a batch of copycat “Fauxstess” cupcakes using an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and brought one in to work for me to try.  Well, believe you me, the original never tasted so good!  I wasn’t surprised as anything America’s Test Kitchen makes is the gold standard against which all other recipes are measured…and usually found lacking.

The cupcake is rich and fudgy, and the filling—oh, the filling—is melt-in-your mouth delicious.  I love that it isn’t made with Crisco shortening and butter as so many whoopie pie type fillings are.  A little bit of unflavored gelatin gives the filling just the right body, and a jar of Marshmallow Fluff as well as butter and vanilla provides the perfect balance to the fudgy cupcake.

My daughter Sara came down for the weekend which gave me the opportunity (okay, excuse) to indulge in some baking.  She and her boyfriend gave it two thumbs up.  I am going to have to hide a cupcake so that Sara can bring one back for her sister Amy to try.

It won’t be easy.

One year ago:  Espresso Shortbread Cookies with Irish Whiskey Glaze

Two years ago:  Bulgur Breakfast Cereal

Three years ago:  Napa Valley Chicken Salad

Hostess Cupcake Copycat aka “Fauxstess” Cupcakes

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Ingredients for Cupcakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbl. instant espresso
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for Filling

  • 3 tbl. water
  • 3/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 4 tbl. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • One 7-oz. jar of marshmallow creme (either Marshmallow Fluff or Kraft Jet-Puffed Crème)

Ingredients for Glaze

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tbl. unsalted butter

Directions for Filling

Make the filling first so that it will have time to set up before you need to use it.

Combine water and gelatin in large bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.  Then, microwave until mixture is bubbling around edges and gelatin dissolves, about 30 seconds.  Stir in butter, vanilla, and salt until combined.  Let mixture cool until just warm to touch, about 5 minutes, then whisk in marshmallow creme until smooth. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

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Transfer approximately 1⁄2 cup marshmallow mixture to pastry bag fitted with small plain tip.  Alternatively, you can fill a zip lock baggie and cut off a very small corner to use as a decorating bag.  Reserve remaining mixture for filling cupcakes.  Keep both the pastry bag and reserved filling mixture refrigerated until you are ready to use them.

Directions for Cupcakes

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325o F.  Grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin.

Combine and whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl.  Whisk boiling water, cocoa, chocolate chips, and espresso in large bowl until smooth.  Add sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined.  Whisk in flour mixture until incorporated.  Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Bake until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out with few tender crumbs attached, 18 to 22 minutes.  Cool cupcakes in tin 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.

Directions for Glaze

Microwave chocolate and butter in small bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Cool glaze to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

Assembly

Insert tip of paring knife at a 45 degree angle about 1/4 inch from edge of cupcake.  Cut out and remove this cake cone.  Cut off all but the top 1/4 inch of the cone, leaving a circular disk of cake.  Save the little piece of the cone tip for “taste testing!”   Using two spoons (you’ll need the second spoon to scrape off sticky filling), fill each “well” of the cupcakes with approximately a tablespoon of the marshmallow filling then replace cupcake top.

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Spread about a tablespoon of the lukewarm glaze over the top of the cupcake, covering any marshmallow creme that may have oozed out.  Allow glaze to set up before piping the squiggles (curlicues) across the top of the cupcakes.

Using pastry bag (or zip-lock bag), pipe curlicues across glazed cupcakes.  Allow topping to set before serving.

Cupcakes can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

Fran’s Notes

  • Don’t let glaze get too thick before using to top cupcakes.  You want the glaze to be as smooth as possible without showing spatula strokes.  If the glaze is too thick by the time you need to use it, microwave it a few seconds to loosen it up again.
  • It’s almost the opposite approach for the filling.  Leave the pastry bag that you’re going to use to make the curlicues refrigerated until just before you need to use it.  If the filling is too soft, the little curlicues will fill themselves in.

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Source:   Slightly adapted recipe from America’s Test Kitchen via my friend Jill

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