This Easy Hostess Cupcake Recipe Is Perfect to Make with Kids

Make lunch extra special by baking a homemade version of the classic Hostess Cupcake.

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Intense chocolate cake, fluffy cream filling, fudgy ganache and an iconic vanilla swirl. Hostess Cupcakes are something many of us grew up eating and remain a staple in many school lunches. It’s a special treat coveted by kids everywhere—and now you can make a homemade version at home.

We love this copycat Hostess Cupcake recipe because of its short ingredient list and simple method. It’s the perfect recipe to make with young bakers who want to help out in the kitchen. You can make these treats at home, and we’re sharing helpful ideas to help get your kids involved.

Psst: Don’t miss all our make-at-home Hostess and Little Debbie recipes.

How to Make Copycat Hostess Cupcakes

This Hostess cupcake recipe makes approximately 24 standard-size cupcakes.

Ingredients

CUPCAKES

  • 1 standard package devil’s food cake mix
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

GANACHE FROSTING

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

VANILLA SWIRL

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Step 1: Mix cupcake batter

Mixing copycat Hostess cupcake batter with childLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Prepare the cake mix according to the package’s directions for cupcakes. Let your kids practice scooping and measuring the ingredients. Have them scoop the ingredients over an empty bowl to prevent excess ingredients finding their way into the batter. (We love this set of mixing bowls for kids.)

Step 2: Bake cupcakes

putting cupcake liners in a muffin pan with toddlerLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Line a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners. This is a great activity for toddlers! Ask them to count and practice their numbers as they place each liner in the muffin tray.

Bake according to the package directions. Remove from the oven and let cool for five minutes in the pan. Then, transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 3: Prepare creme filling

mixing Hostess cupcake filling with toddlerLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

While the cupcakes cool, prepare the filling. Begin by dissolving the salt in two teaspoons of hot water. Then in a large bowl, fold together the marshmallow creme, shortening, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the saltwater solution and stir to combine.

Let your kids take turns mixing the filling. To help with turn-taking, play a song and stop it at random intervals to show it’s time to pass the bowl to the next person. It’s like musical chairs but with frosting—how fun!

Step 4: Make chocolate ganache

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a light boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and whisk until chocolate is melted, smooth and glossy.

Take care around your kiddos with this step since it involved boiling hot cream. An adult should pour the hot cream over the chocolate; however, older kids can take turns stirring the hot mixture as the chocolate melts.

As the ganache cools, it will thicken slightly.

Step 5: Fill cupcakes

Injecting fluffy Hostess cupcake filling into baked cupcakesLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Snip the corner of a gallon-size plastic bag and insert a round pastry tip. Fill the bag with the creme filling and then gently press the tip into the center of each cupcake. Squeeze the bag to fill each cupcake with filling.

The squishy bags full of filling make this step a is a great sensory activity for young kids. Let them take turns squeezing the bag and even help fill the cupcakes. Come in for the assist to direct them to squeeze from the top, or the bag may erupt from the wrong end.

Step 6: Dip in ganache

dipping filled chocolate copycat Hostess cupcakes into ganacheLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Once filled, carefully dip the top of each cupcake in the partially cooled ganache. Gently shake and twirl the cupcakes upside down after dipping to let excess chocolate drip away. Then, turn upright and set aside on a wire rack.

Kids of all ages will love to help dunk the cupcakes into the warm chocolate ganache. Let them each take turns dipping the cupcakes into the chocolate and swirl off the excess. Don’t forget to cover counters with newspaper or wax paper for easy cleanup!

Once all the cupcakes have been dipped, transfer them to the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes and allow the chocolate to set completely.

Step 7: Add the Hostess swirl

Decorating homemade hostess cupcakes with kidsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

While the chocolate ganache sets, whisk together the vanilla icing ingredients. The icing should be thick enough that it holds its shape once piped. Transfer the icing to a sandwich-size plastic bag fitted with a small, round pastry tip and then pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake.

While the swirl is classic Hostess, this step is a great way to let kids practice fine motor skills while decorating their cupcakes with other shapes, letters, numbers and patterns.

How to Store Leftover Cupcakes

Store leftover cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days. If you’d like to keep them longer, you can freeze unfrosted cupcakes for several months. Simply let thaw and frost before serving.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.