Cream-filled Hostess Style Cupcakes

I came across this idea on Martha Stewart’s website a couple weeks ago and just couldn’t help myself. I was never really a huge fan of Hostess cupcakes, but homemade ones sounded pretty tasty. So I did some research, tested some recipes and discovered the best cream filling I’ve ever tasted. It will put any of those marshmallow fluff-based recipes to shame. I kid you not. I was eating it like it was peanut butter. The cupcakes I made were light, moist and full of chocolatey goodness (although I will warn you that the batter is super runny, so don’t be surprised). And of course, these days I always add a pinch of espresso powder to every chocolate thing I make, but if you don’t have any, don’t worry, it’s not really necessary. Anyway, the cupcakes were a huge hit both with my husband, the women at my church activity and myself. So if you have some extra time- make these! You won’t regret it! Plus they’d be perfect and easy to personalize for Valentine’s day 🙂
Cream-filled Hostess Style Cupcakes
Ingredients
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s brand)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
3/4 c. warm water + 1/8 tsp. espresso powder
3/4 c. buttermilk (or 3/4 c. whole milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice, let stand for 5 min)
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream filling
3 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
Chocolate ganache
1 c. heavy cream
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
1 1/2 tbsp. corn syrup
1/8 tsp. vanilla
White icing
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
1 tbsp. whole milk
1 c. powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 1 cupcake pan with liners, set aside.
2. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk or sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add eggs, warm water w/ espresso powder, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Turn down speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix until smooth (no flour/cocoa pockets remain), about 3 minutes.
4. Divide batter evenly among cups, filling 2/3 of the way full. Place in oven and bake for 20-21 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched and a cake tester comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake!
5. Remove from oven, allow them to sit for 3-4 minutes in the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
6. To make the cream filling, whisk together the flour and milk in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat. Whisk continuously until it begins to thicken… really watch it. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, until the mixture has the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat, whisk out all clumps, and place in refrigerator to cool completely. The mixture must be chilled all of the way thorough before adding it to the butter, or it will melt it.
7. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt for 2 minutes on medium-high speed, using the whisk attachment. Add flour and milk mixture. Beat on high for 6-8 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy (and slightly resembles whipped cream). Chill in refrigerator.
8. When cupcakes are completely cooled, remove a dime sized section from the top, and using a sharp knife (cut out a circle, keeping the “top” intact…you will use it as a plug), then make a hole for the filling (or if you have a cupcake corer, use that, but just make sure you have lots of room for filling- the more, the merrier). Pipe the filling into each hole and place the top back on, making sure it is flush with the rest of the cupcake.
9. To make the ganache, heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. In a separate bowl, combine chocolate, corn syrup and vanilla. Once the cream is heated through, pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes or so before using it.
10. Once ganache is cooled, turn cupcakes over and dip, making sure to cover the top completely and remove excess by swirling it circles and allowing it to drip. Continue the process with each cupcake, then go back and re-dip each cupcake 2 more times (this will build up a thick coating and will help hide the hole).
11. Place cupcakes in refrigerator for 10 minutes so the ganache can solidify. Meanwhile, to make the icing, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add salt and vanilla. Combine. With speed on low, slowly add powdered sugar, then milk. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Then pipe away!
Note: cupcakes should keep for 3 days.