Homemade Hostess Cupcakes (Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
I obviously love to remake my childhood favorites. Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies have been on my list for awhile now. I ordered a Twinkie pan that should be coming in soon, so in the meantime, let's make some Hostess Cupcakes!
These Hostess cupcakes are really fun to make, and the best part -- they actually taste like a real, but cleaner version, of THE OG Hostess Cupcake. I used an almond flour based paleo chocolate cake as the cupcake. It has denser crumb and holds the cupcake filling together perfectly. I decided the filling should be light, fluffy and whipped, so I made a vegan coconut whipped cream. And I dipped in a paleo chocolate ganache that is true to the original. Of course topped with the curly swirl.
If you are a fan of the original, you will love these! They taste very similar but not so heavy. They're the perfect paleo dessert but you'd never know they are 'healthy'... and kids will love them!
What are in the paleo Hostess Cupcakes?
Almond Flour Super fine blanched!
Cacao Powder Or high quality cocoa powder. The richer the better in these cupcakes
Oat Flour, or Coconut Flour If you are not following paleo I prefer oat flour, but coconut flour works well
Non-Dairy Milk I always use Oatly but any will work
Coconut Sugar Any granulated sugar will work here
Baking Powder and Soda For a lift and rise
Eggs I have not tried to make these vegan but I do think aquafaba eggs will work well in this recipe
Coconut Oil Or any neutral oil
Vanilla Extract Because it's in every baked good
Coconut Cream or Milk (refrigerated overnight prior)
Unrefined or regular powdered sugar see notes on how make unrefined paleo powdered sugar
Non-Dairy Butter I always prefer Miyoko's
Dark Chocolate Chips I use Hu Kitchen
White Chocolate Chips This is an option for the swirl, but vanilla buttercream or frosting can be made too
You can make these cupcakes in steps ahead of time, even days apart:
Make the cupcakes ahead of time and store on the counter for a day, or place in the fridge in an airtight for 2 days until ready to make the filling and assemble.
Prep the whipped cream in advance. You will have to refrigerate the coconut milk in advance. You can whip up the coconut cream and store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. It firms up more when chilled so I actually prefer this!
I suggest you prep the ganache when you are ready to assemble the cupcakes. You will want to dip the cupcakes in when the ganache is warm.
The swirls can be done after the chocolate ganache is set, this is the last step!
The 5 minute vegan coconut whipped cream!
Refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight. Scrape off the cream and save the water for a smoothies or a later time. Add powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla. Beat for 3-4 minutes and you get a nice, light and fluffy coconut whipped cream!
What kitchen tools are needed to make these paleo Hostess Cupcakes?
Standard muffin tin
Hand mixer or stand mixer
Piping bag for the swirls
How do I make my own unrefined powdered sugar for the whipped cream?
To make your own unrefined powdered sugar, place any granulated sweetener in a high speed blender for 30-60 seconds. I prefer to use coconut sugar because it is my go to low glycemic sweetener but you can use any granulated sugar, even monkfruit. Keep in mind coconut sugar has a caramel-y flavor and will alter the flavor and color just a bit.
Here's what you need to make the Hostess cupcakes:
Makes 8 cupcakes. Double the cupcake recipe if you want to make a double batch. You do not need to double the whipped cream or chocolate ganache, there will be enough left over.
The paleo chocolate cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups almond flour**
2 tbsp oat flour, or coconut flour
6 tbsp cacao powder, or high quality cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
6 tbsp non-dairy milk, I use oat milk
2 tbsp olive oil, melted coconut oil, or any neutral oil
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
The whipped coconut cream filling:
1 can of full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1/4 cup of unrefined or traditional powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
The chocolate ganache topping:
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, I use Hu Kitchen
1/3 cup full fat coconut milk or cream
1/3 cup melted white chocolate chips, I use Lily's Sweets
Make a small batch of vanilla buttercream:
1 cup unrefined or traditional powdered sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp+ non-dairy milk
Bake and assemble the Hostess Cupcakes!
Make the coconut whipped cream:
I suggest to make this first because you do have to refrigerate the can of coconut milk overnight prior, and it firms up nicely after it’s whipped and chilled.
1. Refrigerate a can of full fat coconut milk overnight. Freezing the can to speed up the process does not work! Must be fully chilled. See notes below on what brands of coconut milk work the best.
2. Once chilled, scrape the coconut cream off the top of the can (the hard white part), and discard the water, or save it for smoothies or other recipes.
3. Add the coconut cream to a bowl, along with the powdered sugar and vanilla.
4. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat on high until it gets light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Over-mixing may cause it to fall flat. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
Make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a traditional muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside. Can also use cupcake wrappers.
2. In a large bowl, mix together almond flour, oat or coconut flour, cacao powder, baking powder and soda and sea salt. Make sure to mix well so no lumps remain.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs. Then add in coconut sugar, non-dairy milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and whisk well until no lumps remain. *for a lighter fluffier cupcake, use a hand mixer to combine.
4. Spoon batter into the muffin tin cavities. Fill 3/4 way full. Should fill 8.
5. Bake 17-20 minutes until tops peak and a toothpick comes out clean with just crumbs when inserted.
6. Place muffin tin on a cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Then, run a knife around the edge of the tin and gently pop the muffins out and finish cooling on a cooling rack.
Fill the cupcakes:
Once the cupcakes are COMPLETELY cooled, it’s time to fill them.
1. Using a small knife, cut a circle in the top centers of the cupcakes for the filling. Cut about 2/3 down into the cupcake and remove the cake to create a cavity. Save pieces for topping them after.
2. Fill each cupcake cavity with a spoonful of whipped cream. Place the pieces removed back on top, you will have to cut them down so they lay just on the tops. Scrape off any whipped cream that spilled out. Set aside while you prepare ganache.
Make the chocolate ganache:
1. In a small microwave safe bowl, heat up the coconut milk until just hot. You can also do this on the stove in a small saucepan.
2. Once hot, pour chocolate chips on top and swirl the bowl until they’re covered with coconut milk. Let sit for 3-4 minutes untouched.
3. Whisk the coconut milk and chocolate together until smooth and a ganache forms. The ganache should be warm and ready for dipping.
Dip the cupcakes and add the swirly:
Have the filled cupcakes and ganache ready. Carefully dip the top of the cupcakes into the ganache until just covered, gently shake some excess off and place back on cooling rack to set. Repeat until all cupcakes are dipped.
There are two ways to make the swirly:
1. White chocolate swirly:
Simply heat up the white chocolate until just melted. Transfer to a piping bag with a very small round piping tip (I used Wilton 3), and draw curly Q’s on the top of each cupcake. It took me a few tries to get them round!
or 2. Vanilla buttercream frosting:
I used this method and made a small batch of vanilla buttercream. You will have some leftover but it can be stored in an airtight in the fridge or freezer.
In a small mixing bowl, beat together all buttercream ingredients until a smooth frosting forms. If too stiff, add 1 tsp of milk at a time until a smooth creamy frosting forms. Transfer to a piping bag with a very small round piping tip (I used Wilton 3), and draw curly Q’s on the top of each cupcake. It took me a few tries to get them round!
How to store the paleo Hostess Cupcakes?
Store the cupcakes in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Or store frozen in an airtight container with parchment between each cupcake. The coconut whipped cream won't hold up too well at room temp, so these should be kept cold.
** To make these cupcakes nut free, use this gluten free chocolate cupcake recipe here!
I have not tried an egg replacer, but I think aquafaba eggs will work in this recipe. Flax eggs may make the cupcakes more dense
Make sure the coconut milk is refrigerated overnight before making the whipped cream
The best brands I found for the coconut whipped cream are 365 Whole Foods brand and I also had good whipped texture with Native Forest Coconut Milk. They will all work but will produce slightly different results in texture
If you make these adorable copycat Hostess Cupcakes, leave me comments or ratings below! I love to hear from you. And tag me @gutsy_baker on Instagram!