My mother was a great cook and baker; something that I've share with you all for the last 2 1/2 years with my blog. However, I have to admit, when I was in elementary school, I had a dessert envy of those kids that brought Twinkies, HoHo's, Ding Dongs, Snowballs, and yes, Hostess Cupcakes. I realize, now, it was the "packaging" that intrigued me more or as much as the treat itself.
Over the years, my love of baking has helped me create my own treats (Twinkies) to surprise my family and friends and today, I decided to replicate another familiar and favorite treat that I yearned for--Hostess Cupcakes. These snack cakes were the inspiration of D.R. (Doc) Rice, who, in 1950 added the vanilla cream filling and the seven (7) squiggles on top of the chocolate icing to the existing chocolate cupcake from 1919. Their slogan was, "you get a big delight in every bite!" So, I had a challenge before me when I set out to create my own cupcakes that would satisfy even the most skeptical believers.
Deep chocolate cake, a stabilized vanilla whip cream, a deep chocolate ganache, and the familiar royal icing squiggles is my version. A little more decadent to make up for the packaging! LOL!!
Dark Chocolate~Vanilla Cream Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 Vanilla beans, split and scraped (or 1 T Vanilla extract)
1 tsp. espresso (optional, but enhances the chocolate flavor)*
2 1/2 cups Queen Guinevere Cake Flour
2/3 cups Dark Dutch Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
*For my friend, Ellen, at the Bake It With Booze blog, you could substitute 2 T Kaluha for a grown-up version)
Preheat oven to 350F-degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the scraped vanilla beans (or extract) and beat once again. Add the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. On medium speed, continue to beat 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Either sift the dry ingredients or place them in a bowl and use a hand whisk to combine. Add the the dry ingredients alternatively with the buttermilk, starting and stopping with the flour mixture. Turn the mixture to medium/high and beat for 1 minute until fully combined.
Use a scoop to place the batter into the paper-lined pans. I filled the papers almost to the top and was able to get 20 cupcakes. If you want to fill the pans with the usual recommended two-thirds full, you will get an even 2 dozen--your choice. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, being careful not to over bake, which is easy to do with chocolate batters. Also, if you don't fill two pans with the cupcakes, add water to the muffin openings so you ensure even baking.
Vanilla Cream Filling
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 T Whipped Cream Stabilizer
2 T granulated sugar
2 Vanilla beans, split and scraped
Mix the stabilizer with the granulated sugar. In a bowl, using a whisk attachment or as I do, in a copper bowl, start whisking the heavy cream, sprinkling the stabilizer/sugar mixer over it. Continue to whisk until thicken. Add the vanilla bean "paste" and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, heat the heavy cream until bubbles appear around the outer edges. Remove from heat--don't let it boil. Pour over the bittersweet chocolate chips and let set a minute or two. Slowly whisk the mixture to combine. Set aside.
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T meringue powder
2-3 tsp. cold water
Mix the meringue powder into the cold water, then, add it to the confectioners' sugar. Whisk to combine.
Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, use an apple corer to remove the center--save the cupcake pieces. Place the stabilized whipped cream into a bag with a #7 tip and pipe the Vanilla Cream into the center. Use just the top (the outer baked part) of the cupcake "plug" and place on top of the cream to cover it before dipping into the ganache.
You can either use an offset spatula to frost the cupcake, or as I did, dip the cupcake into the ganache, then, smooth it with the offset spatula.
When you finish with the ganache step. Fill a small bag with a #3 or 4 tip and pipe the squiggles over the ganache frosting. Let the cupcakes set for an hour or more before serving or packing up to give.
The moist, dark chocolate cupcake, with the vanilla cream and ganache frosting was just what I envision to be my version of this favorite lunch time snack. And, just like the snack cakes I envied my classmates having, these also have a "big delight in every bite." Enjoy!