Homemade Hostess Cupcakes


If these were just a ganache-frosted chocolate cupcake, they would still be good. But there’s something about that squiggle that makes them lethal.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes (makes 24 cupcakes):

  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 8 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Mix the cocoa and boiling water together until smooth in a small bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Combine the baking soda with the sour cream in another small bowl. On low speed alternately add the flour and sour cream mixture to the creamed butter, scraping the bowl as needed and beating only until smooth. Add the cocoa on low speed and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl well.

Fill each muffin liner 3/4 full. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center. Do not overtake.

Let cool completely. These work best if you make them ahead and have them refrigerated before coring and filling.

Marshmallow Cream Filling

  • 5 ounces Marshmallow Fluff
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Whip the filling ingredients together in a food processor until fully combined and light. Fill a pastry bag with a large round tip.

Ganache Icing

  • 6 ounces heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 12 ounces chopped dark chocolate

Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring heavy cream and corn syrup to a simmer, either in the microwave or on the stovetop. Pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for a couple minutes, then whisk until smooth.


Core the center out of each chocolate cupcake using a small knife, apple corer, etc. Fill with marshmallow filling all the way to the top and a little bit overfilled. Using an offset spatula, spread the excess filling in a smooth layer over the top of the cupcake so the ganache can be as smooth as possible when you dip them. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or cover and chill overnight.

Rewarm the ganache in the microwave for 15-20 seconds if needed, until warm and fluid. Dip the top of each chilled cupcake in the ganache, let the excess drip off and set upright to dry.

Fill a piping bag with the remaining filling (or whip up a little American buttercream) using a small round tip. Pipe the squiggle onto the top of the set ganache.

These keep well for up to a week.

Butter Pecan Blondies

Cookies, Unfussy
These actually made my eyes roll back in my head a little bit when I took the first bite.

  • 2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups salted pecans
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • Flakey sea salt for topping

Salted Pecans: Preheat oven to 325°F. Toss 1/2-pound of pecans with 2 teaspoons melted butter and generous 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Bake on a rimmed cookie sheet for 10 minutes, toss and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until the pecans are toasted and brown. Set aside to cool.

Blondies: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13″ pan and line with a parchment sling.

Melt butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Add sugars to the melted butter and whisk to combine – the mixture should be warm but not hot. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking to combine. Add vanilla and stir.

Add salted pecans and butterscotch chips to the flour mixture. Pour butter/sugar mixture over flour mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until evenly combined.

Pour into prepared pan, spreading evenly to the edges.

Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes, or until the top of the blondies are evenly browned. Immediately sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Let cool completely before cutting.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Cakes, Unfussy
I’ve been making this cake for many years. It uses a pound of zucchini and whole wheat flour and tastes much better than it sounds.

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt cake.

In a large bowl, stir together oil and sugars. Add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Fold in flour, cocoa powder, coffee, baking soda, baking powder and salt until evenly distributed but some flour streaks remain.

Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips until the batter is smooth.

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top springs back when touched lightly.

Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before turning out and cooling.

Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Tahini Blondies

Cookies, Unfussy
If anyone ever asked what my favorite texture would be, these would be my answer. A little dense, tender and chewy. The tahini is reminiscent of peanut butter, but not as heavy-handed. Yum with a capital Y.

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup tahini, well stirred
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″x13″ baking pan. Line with a parchment sling so the long sides of the pan have excess parchment hanging over.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter and brown sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the tahini and the sea salt – the mixture may look a little broken, which is okay. Let cool slightly. Whisk in eggs, one at a time until fully combined. Whisk in the vanilla extract.

Stir together the flour and baking powder. Fold the flour into the tahini mixture until there are no streaks. Pour into the prepared pan, spread evenly, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the center has firmed up.

Let cool completely then refrigerate for at least an hour (otherwise the bars may crack) before lifting out of the pan and cutting into squares.

Whole Wheat Thumbprints

Cookies, Unfussy
These whole wheat thumbprint cookies are super easy. This puzzle is not. Luckily, these cookies keep well for many days.
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (480g)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (225g)
  • 1 1/3 cups butter (300g), room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Best jam you have
  • Extra sugar for pressing

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and butter in the mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on low for a few minutes until the butter is incorporated.

Whisk eggs together in a small bowl and pour into the flour mixture. Mix until incorporated.

Form into balls using a cookie scoop or spoon, using about 2 tablespoons of dough per ball. Slightly flatten each ball with a flat-bottomed glass dipped in granulated sugar. Make an indentation in the center of the cookie using your finger or a teaspoon. Don’t sweat the cracks, unless the jam will leak out, then fix the crack. Fill indentation with jam.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, the cookies are just starting to brown. Rotate the cookie sheets halfway through baking.

Let cool completely before storing, but be sure to eat one warm first. These keep well for many days.