I located a recipe online at the Instructables website by @karenchoward. Thankfully, I already owned most of the ingredients. The only thing I needed to obtain was marshmallow fluff. (does anyone keep that on-hand? I guess I do now!) I quickly got to baking. Good thing because I was up until almost midnight working on this one!
Keep in mind that this recipe is amazing, but it is not a quick one. It contains many steps, and if you are missing an ingredient (like fluff.....) it can add even more time. This is not a spur of the moment baking endeavor. That being said, it is potentially one of the most delicious "knock off" recipes that we've ever tasted! Not only was the flavor spot on for a Hostess Cupcake, but the texture was indescribably Hostess. This recipe is a keeper!
Ingredients for Cupcakes
Directions for Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife and a clean, dry cutting board, chop the chocolate and butter into small pieces. Place the chopped chocolate and butter into a large bowl.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, but do not combine the eggs with anything yet. Just set them aside.
In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Working quickly, pour the sugar and water mixture into the large bowl with the chocolate and butter. Stir until the chocolate and butter are melted. When the mixture has cooled a bit, add the vanilla and mix until combined.
In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, add the lightly beaten eggs to the chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients.
Fill lined cupcake tins with batter about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch from the top. I had enough batter for 18 cupcakes. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling, start working on the filling.
Ingredients for Filling
Directions for Filling
In a clean bowl, cream the butter until it's light and fluffy. Beat in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and beat until smooth. Continue alternating powdered sugar and cream and continue to beat. Once all combined, beat in the marshmallow cream. Fill a pastry bag with the filling and stick in the fridge. (Note: the filling is very messy until it's cooled a bit. It will likely start flowing out of the pastry bag if you've already cut off the end, so work fast and fill it over a bowl. I used a medium star tip to fill the cupcakes) While the filling is chilling, make the ganache.
Ingredients for Ganache
Directions for Ganache
Using a sharp knife and a clean, dry cutting board, chop the chocolate into small pieces. Put the cut up chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the cream and butter over medium-low heat and barely bring to a boil. Once the liquid reaches a boil, pour it over the cut up chocolate. Using a whisk, stir the mixture until the chocolate melts. Stir in the vanilla, and whisk the mixture until it is smooth and glossy.
Now, it's time to put it all together! Remove the pastry bag of filling from the fridge and pipe some of the filling mixture into the center top of each cupcake. You should insert the star tip about halfway in and pull back a little. Then start to fill just until the filling starts to appear at the top of the cupcake. I had just enough filling for my 18 cupcakes.
Once filled, check to make sure that the ganache has cooled enough that it can be spread on top of the cupcakes. You don't want it too hot that it runs right off, but you don't want it so cool that it won't spread. Use your judgement. I waited about 15 minutes to achieve the right spreading consistency. Now, cool the cupcakes in the fridge so that the filling and ganache sets.
You may have noticed that there was something missing-- where are those cute little white swirly things on top? Well, we thought that they were unnecessary. We didn't think they'd add too much taste, and this recipe was already so many steps, that we didn't have any guilt omitting them. If you want the swirls, I would use any white buttercream recipe.
We stored these cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge, but we found that they tasted best when taken out about 30 minutes prior to consuming. The texture was not "cakey" like most cupcakes. It had that moist, yet grainy texture that hostess is known for with these tasty treats. Overall, we rated this a 5 out of 5 stars, and will definitely be making this again!