(Original Post Date: August 9, 2010)
When I was growing up, there was a liquor store around the corner from my house. The owner was a jolly old man named Eli – who looked like a slimmed down version of Santa Claus. My dad was friends with him, so Eli used to give me black licorice from his table-top jar for free whenever I stopped by to say hello. In addition to all kinds of beer and wine, Eli also had a very extensive candy and junk food aisle in his store. Once in awhile, I would scrounge around the house for change (mostly the top of my dad’s dresser), then take a quick trip around the corner to go buy some candy, or better yet, a 50 cent double pack of chocolate Hostess cupcakes with cream filling! Those were the days…
I remember those Hostess cupcakes fondly. But sadly, they just don’t taste the same anymore, and not in a good way. I don’t know if the ingredients have changed – or if it’s much more likely that I have changed. I think we tend to remember things from the distant past with such nostalgia that nothing (including the same exact item) can measure up to our memories.
I felt like making some cupcakes like those that I remember… but with a much more grown up flavor: dark chocolate, and not so sickly-sweet. It just so happened that my brother was coming over, so I thought he would get a kick out of it if I made him some “un-hostess” cupcakes. (He has an odd sense of humor, just like me.) Instead of the curly white piping on the top of the cupcake (like the one “normal” looking cupcake I made in the picture above), I decorated the tops with some rude un-hostess like phrases.
- 2 c. flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3/4 c. unsalted butter
- 2 c. sugar
- 3/4 c. cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark)
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 c. water
- 1/4 c. milk
Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
15 oz. good quality chocolate
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1 c. milk
- 5 T. flour
- 1 c. unsalted butter
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
1. First, make the frosting. Weigh out 15 oz. of chocolate. (I used four 3.5 oz bars of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate for a total of 14 oz., and added about 1 oz of chocolate chips to bring the total weight up to 15 oz.)
2. In a large 2 cup measuring cup, microwave the heavy cream for 4 minutes. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
3. Whisk the chocolate and cream together to make the ganache. It will appear grainy at first, but will smooth out after a minute or so.
4. Cover the surface of the ganache with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for a couple hours until set and firm enough to frost the cupcakes.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
6. Cream the butter for several minutes until smooth, and gradually add the sugar. Continue beating for 2-4 more minutes.
7. Add the vanilla and cocoa powder and combine thoroughly. (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder to give this cake more of a dark chocolate taste.)
8. Add the eggs, one egg at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
9. Combine the water and milk in a 2 c. pyrex measuring cup, and microwave for 2.5 minutes.
10. On low speed, slowly add the flour to the butter mixture. Then, gradually mix in the hot water/milk mixture, being careful not to splash hot batter out of the bowl. (The batter will be somewhat watery).
11. Line muffin pans with 24 paper liners. Pour the batter into each cup, about 3/4 full.
12. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool. Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool to the touch before filling and frosting.
13. While the cupcakes are baking, make the cream filling. Whisk the milk and 5 T. of flour in a saucepan over medium heat for several minutes until thickened and smooth. Set aside and cool. Do not make the filling until this flour/milk mixture is completely cooled.
14. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, and beat in the cool flour/milk mixture. Using an electric hand-mixer, beat this for approximately 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy.
15. Snip the corner off a large gallon sized ziploc bag. Insert a star tip, and fill the rest of the bag with the cream filling.
16. Cut a small slit into the top of each cupcake (and downward almost until the bottom of the cupcake) with a butter knife.
17. Push the star tip into the slit, and push filling into the center of each cupcake. You can do this about three times along the length of the slit to ensure you have enough cream filling in the center of each cupcake.
18. Frost the cupcakes with the chocolate ganache.
19. To pipe the decor or words onto the cupcake, you can either put the remaining cream filling into another pastry bag fitted with a #2 writing tip (like I did below), or use commercial cookie decorating icing. If you don’t want to bother with a piping bag or commercial cookie icing… the really easy way to do this would be to put the cream frosting into another gallon sized ziploc bag (a sturdy freezer bag), and snip off the tiniest corner so that you have a make-shift thin writing tip.
20. To decorate: If you want the “nice” version, pipe some squiggly lines across the top hostess cupcake style. If you want to be funny, you can do as I did, and write some un-hostess like phrases across the top. To store overnight, put them in a large covered container – but don’t allow the lid to touch the top of the cupcakes otherwise your decorations will smudge.
Of course, I took this opportunity to pipe a bunch of rude phrases… the ultimate in un-hostessness.