Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Hostess"-style Cupcakes

Inspired by a recent episode of "America's Test Kitchens," I decided to see if I could recreate a Hostess cream-filled chocolate cupcake from scratch.

The process turned out to be fairly labor-intensive. The cupcake itself is nice and straightforward. All ingredients are mixed by hand and then scooped into cupcake tins and baked. Right out of the oven, they were delicious, though I found they lost some of the rich flavor the longer they sat out.

Next, make the filling, a combo of marshmallow fluff, vanilla, butter, and soft gelatin. It's a sticky and messy process.

When I served these, the big question was, "How did you get the filling inside the cupcake? The answer is you cut out a cone from the cupcakes, add filling, and press the cone on top. Don't overfill, however, or when you press the cone on top, the filling comes squirting out!

The top is a simple ganache with some of the reserved filling piped in that telltale squiggle.

All told, the process took me three hours, though not all of it was active time. There was a lot of waiting for cupcakes to cool, filling to set up, etc.

I liked the final cupcake, but not enough to invest the time and labor in them any time soon. If I were to make these again, I might use my standby chocolate cake recipe, which keeps better in my opinion. Also, I might go with a cream-based ganache rather than the butter-based ganache from the recipe.

Chocolate Cream-Filled Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes
To ensure an appropriately thick filling, be sure to use marshmallow creme (such as Fluff or Kraft Jet-Puffed Creme), not marshmallow sauce.
  • 1cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2cup boiling water
  • 1/3cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1tablespoon instant espresso
  • 3/4cup sugar
  • 1/2cup sour cream
  • 1/2cup vegetable oil
  • 2large eggs
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3tablespoons water
  • 3/4teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 4tablespoon (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  •  Pinch salt
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4cups marshmallow crème (see note)
  • 1/2cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1. MAKE BATTER Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Whisk 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 dry crumbs attached, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool -cupcakes in tin 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.
  • 2. PREPARE FILLING Combine water and gelatin in large bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. 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. Transfer 1/3 cup marshmallow mixture to pastry bag fitted with small plain tip; reserve remaining mixture for filling cupcakes.
  • 3. ASSEMBLE CUPCAKES Microwave chocolate and butter in small bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 30 seconds. Cool glaze to room temper-ature, about 10 minutes. Following photos 1 to 3 at left, cut cone from top of each cupcake and fill cupcakes with 1 tablespoon filling each. Replace tops, frost with 2 teaspoons cooled glaze, and let sit 10 minutes. Using pastry bag, pipe curlicues across glazed cupcakes. Serve. (Cupcakes can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.)

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