Thursday, May 16, 2013

homemade hostess cupcakes

I made these today for the school bake sale, and I have to say, they came out just how I wanted! They looked just like Hostess (fauxstess, I suppose) cupcakes, and they tasted even better (no chemicals!).

They had shiny chocolate ganache glaze...

Reasonably well-piped swirls (I only piped 7 swirls, but rumor has it the official ones have 8)...

And just the right amount of creamy, marshmallowy, sweet filling.

Although these are not hard to make, they are a multi-step project, which kind of flies in the face of my "dirty as few bowls as you can" philosophy. So I took some liberal short cuts and I don't regret them one bit. In fact, I'll share them with you.

1. To fill the cupcakes, I just poked the round tip in my icing bag straight into the cupcake and gave a little squeeze. No coring the cupcake, cutting out divots. Just straight in. You can't over-fill 'em, though, or the filling will ooze right out the top and you'll crack the cupcake, making it difficult to coat them smoothly with ganache. So go easy with the piping bag, and then let them sit for a few minutes. If the filling oozes up, just use a small offset spatula to scrape away the excess gently. (And if you eat it, I won't tell.)

2. I didn't wait at all for the ganache to set up. I find it easier to dip the cupcakes right away when the ganache is nice and thin and runny. If the coating isn't thick enough, either dip it briefly again, or dab on a bit of extra ganache and smooth it over with the offset spatula. If you work relatively quickly, you'll get them all dipped before the ganache has thickened too much. If it becomes difficult to work with, a few seconds in the microwave and a quick stir will make all right with the world again.

3. And this is the really big tip... I used the same filling mixture to pipe the curlicues on the tops of the cupcakes. (Gasp!) Since you can't fill the cupcakes that much anyway, there is plenty of marshmallow mixture left. Just transfer it to a piping bag with a smaller round tip. No need to make a different frosting. It's white, it pipes easily, and you've already got it made.

See? Easy peasy!

I used my usual chocolate cake recipe (1/3 of the recipe, which is very easily divisible by 3, made 15 cupcakes). I made sure not to overfill the cupcake tins since I didn't want huge, domed cupcakes. I wanted them relatively small and flat on top, which worked out well.

I borrowed the filling recipe from Brown-Eyed Baker. Some recipes online call for making your own filling from scratch, while this one uses Marshmallow Fluff as a base. Folks, we're making a snack cake here. I don't think it's really a problem to borrow a little Marshmallow Fluff. If you are really insistent, you can follow a marshmallow recipe and stop at the point it resembles fluff.

And ganache is ganache. 1:1 chocolate to cream. Heat the cream until it's quite hot, and little bubbles form around the edges, but don't let it boil. Pour the hot cream over the finely chopped chocolate, let it sit for a minute or so to melt the chocolate, and then stir it gently until it comes together into a satiny, glorious glaze. For 15 cupcakes, I used 3 ounces of chocolate (2 ounces of 72% bittersweet and 1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate chips; all bittersweet was a bit too bitter for me) and 3 ounces of cream.

Basic instructions:

  1. Make cupcakes.
  2. Cool completely.
  3. While the cupcakes are baking, make filling. Place in piping bag with a medium round tip (maybe 1/4" across). Brown-Eyed Baker suggests refrigerating it, but if you're going to use it right away, this is not necessary.
  4. Poke the tip straight into a cupcake. Give a little squeeze (not too much!). You'll feel the cupcake expand in your hand and get a little heavier. Let it sit for a second to see if the filling oozes out. If so, fill the next cupcake a little less. If there's a gaping hole, give it a tiny bit more filling. You just want the top to be smooth and flat.
  5. Make the ganache.
  6. Coat the cupcakes with ganache. Working with one cupcake at a time, hold it by the bottom and dip it straight down into the ganache. Twist it to the left and to the right, and then lift it out and let the excess drip off. Check your work. Is the whole top of the cupcake covered, up to the edge of the paper? If so, good job. If not, use an offset spatula to add a dab of ganache and smooth it. Repeat with remaining cupcakes. If needed, reheat the ganache in the microwave for a few seconds (<10 and="" li="" stir.="">
  7. Chill cupcakes in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Transfer remaining marshmallow filling to a piping bag with a #3 tip (small round tip). Pipe curlicues across the top.
  9. Refrigerate until shortly before serving. It's nice if they come back to room temperature so the filling is soft!
Marshmallow Filling
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (2 ounces) powdered sugar

Beat the marshmallow fluff and butter on medium speed until soft and light, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the powdered sugar. Once incorporated, increase the speed to medium and beat for another 1-2 minutes, or until very light and fluffy.

Enjoy at a bake sale or any old time!


Rebecca Elliott said...

How fun! I remember getting these in my lunch as a kid. Can't wait to try one made with real ingredients. Thanks for posting!

Leah said...

These are BEAUTIFUL!I'm probably coming down to visit in August (hint, hint...).