We’ve had a rough work month here in the Reeve house, lots of big projects with big stress. One day a couple of weeks ago when things were particularly stressful, I decided I needed something whimsical to lighten things up. I remembered this recipe for a homemade, less artificially flavored version of the famous Hostess cupcakes, and I decided that this was just what we needed. And they were pretty great.

The recipe uses oil instead of butter, and you can tell the difference in the flavor. But, the oil makes them ridiculously moist, and it isn’t a bad flavor. Combined with the marshmallow filling and chocolate glaze, it all works. And I have to say, these are best on the 2nd day. After storing them in my cake dome, they were absolutely perfect the next day. Not an exact flavor replica of the original, but I think even better.

Chocolate Cream Cupcakes (from Cook’s Country’s Best Country Recipes )
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp instant espresso (or regular instant coffee)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp water
3/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1-1/4 cups marshmallow creme (not sauce, creme like Fluff)

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
*NOTE: I needed more glaze for mine, so I made a second batch of glaze with 2 Tbsp butter and a little less than 1/3 cup chips

MAKE BATTER: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin.

Whisk water, cocoa, chocolate chips, and espresso in a 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. *NOTE: The batter is thin, so I poured it into a big measuring cup and used that to pour out the batter.

Bake until toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out with few dry crumbs attached, 18-22 minutes. 20 minutes was absolutely perfect for me.

Cool cupcakes in tin 10 minutes, then turn out into wire rack and cool completely.

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 (this took me closer to 2 minutes).

Stir in butter, vanilla, and salt until combined.

Let mixture cool until just warm to touch, about 5 minute, then whisk in marshmallow creme until smooth. *NOTE: I had to pop the mixture into the microwave for a couple of 30 second bursts to get the Fluff completely melted and mixed. It turned out fine that way.

Refrigerate until set, 30 minutes. Transfer 1/3 cup marshmallow mixture to pastry bag fitted with small plain tip (I just used a Ziploc with a tiny snip in the corner). Reserve the remaining mixture for filling the cupcakes.

ASSEMBLE CUPCAKES: Microwave chocolate and butter in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 30 seconds (took me a little longer).

Cool glaze to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Cut cone from top of each cupcake.

Fill cupcakes with 1 Tbsp filling each.

Replace tops and frost with 2 tsp cooled glaze, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Using the pastry bag, pipe curlicues across glazed cupcakes.