What’s better than a Hostess Cupcake? A super-sized one! This Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake is three chocolate layers with a cream-filled center and rich ganache frosting.
Nostalgic childhood treats prove to be a very rich well of inspiration for me. You may remember this Snowball Cake that I made all the way back in 2012. It’s still such a favorite! Well, today I’m adding a new one to the recipe index. This Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake has been a while in the making, with repeat testing and even a few fails along the way. Now it’s just right. I’m totally obsessed with the texture of these cake layers. And, there’s a literal core of cream filling inside!
It’s easy to complicate things when developing a recipe. Usually the secret to success is to keep things as simple as possible. I had to remind my self of that after a few setbacks. This recipe has three main components, each fairly simple. The first is really great chocolate cake. It freezes well and has a firm yet moist crumb. Second – whipped filling that’s actually a frosting your grandma might have made. Seven minute frosting is so light it’s almost like marshmallow. And third is good ol’ trusty ganache. You just can’t go wrong here!
It’s what’s inside that counts.
The filling little more than cooked egg whites and sugar with the whipping power of an electric mixer. It’s so easy. Always keep in mind that the enemy of meringue is fat. Always make sure your mixing bowl and whip is without a trace. To be sure, cut a lemon in half and wipe down the bowl with it. Do the same to the whip then wipe them down with a paper towel. This removes any trace of fat or grease.
The word billowy comes to mind! Other frostings were attempted, but this one was the lightest and best contrasted all of that chocolate.
The buttermilk cake layers don’t really puff up much during baking, so I didn’t even have to level them (who doesn’t love that?!). Cut out the centers of the bottom two layers using a large round cutter, or just free-hand it with a serrated knife.
Fill the cake all the way to the top with that amazing fluff!
Removing a cake slice reveals the creamy center, which will sigh down slightly, but won’t totally spill out of the cake. It just kind of relaxes.
See? I feel relaxed just looking at it (wink). A slice of this cake will definitely remind you of the flavors of a Hostess Cupcake. The soft outer covering of creamy ganache just seals the deal. The creamy center makes this so decadent. I wish I could teleport a slice to each and every one of you!
Serve slices on their sides instead of upright. They’ll be a little top heavy and the cream filling will ooze out otherwise. The flavor and texture of the chocolate cake is just outstanding. I refrigerated my layers overnight and I think this made the texture even better. Enjoy!
Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake
- 1 cup unsweet cocoa powder
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine grain salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup full fat buttermilk
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup egg whites about 2 1/2 egg whites, I used carton egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners’ glaze for décor
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar plus more if needed
- 1-2 teaspoons of milk or cream plus more if needed
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray.
Combine the dark cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth and dissolved. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and mix again. To the creamed mixture add the baking soda, salt and baking powder. Mix again briefly.
In a 4 cup or larger glass measure with a pour spout, combine the dissolved cocoa mixture and buttermilk. Whisk until combined.
Mix in the flour in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk/cocoa mixture (Order: 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 the liquid, 1/3 flour, remaining liquid, remaining 1/3 flour). Mix on low speed until each is incorporated.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out to cool completely on wire racks. When cakes are cool, cut out and remove a 3.5 inch circle from two of the cakes. Save cake scraps for snacks, cake pops, or for a quick hot fudge sundae.
Pour the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream and tamp the chips down into the cream so they are all covered. Microwave at 100% power for 2 minutes. Let mixture stand for 1 minute then whisk together until a shiny, thick ganache is formed. Transfer to the refrigerator to firm. Stir ganache intermittently until mixture is of soft spreading consistency, like buttercream, which should take about 20-30 minutes.
Bring a pot with 2 inches of water to a simmer. Place egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar into a stainless-steel mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set the bowl on top of the simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Check by rubbing a little of the mixture between your fingers. If the mixture is still grainy, keep whisking and cooking. Mixture is ready when the sugar is melted and an instant-read thermometer registers 160F.
Remove the bowl from the simmering water and pour into an electric stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat for 5-7 minutes on medium high until the mixture is thick and billowy, and holds stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Place a cake layer with a hole in the center on a cake board or server. Frost top edges with ganache. Top with the second cake layer with a hole in the center. Frost top with ganache. Pour cream filling into the center, filling the hole all the way to the top of the hole (You will have a little cream filling left over). Top with the final cake layer without a hole. Frost the entire cake with a crumb coat of ganache. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Ganache will set, so re-heat, if necessary, in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, or until loosened. Remove cake from the refrigerator and apply a second thick coat of ganache.
Mix the confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon of milk in a small bowl. Whisk together until a very thick paste is formed. It should hold in the balloon of the whisk and very slowly fall out. Use more or less of each of the sugar and milk to reach this correct consistency. Remove to a piping bag or zip-top bag with a small hole snipped in the corner. Pipe a series of consecutive loops on top of the cake in Hostess Cupcake fashion.
Serve slices of cake on their sides instead of standing upright. The filling will fall out of the cake slices otherwise. Serve with ice cold glasses of milk for an extra dose of childhood nostalgia.
Cover cake leftovers with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
If you’re not using carton egg whites as I did, beat three whole egg whites lightly in a bowl, then pour into a 1/2 cup measure.