Introduction: Chocolate Cream Cupcakes Aka Copycat Ding Dongs/Ring Dings

About: I love to spend time in the kitchen to relax and feed those I love with great eats and treats.

I gotta confess, I've never had a Ding Dong, Ring Ding, or the similar HoHo, that these cupcakes are based on, but I can tell you these are delightful! I'm not big on chocolate, or processed foods, so Hostess isn't a brand I'm very familiar with, if you make these cupcakes and still find the commercial versions better, let me know and I'll try one.

If you aren't familiar either, Chocolate Cream Cupcakes are moist, chocolatey cupcakes filled with marshmallow filling, glazed with melted chocolate. There's a bit of espresso powder in the batter that doesn't make the cupcakes taste like coffee, it makes chocolate more chocolatey. Much in the same way salt can bring out more flavor in foods. The marshmallow filling is nice and firm, and a cone is cut from the cupcakes enabling you to almost get filling and cupcake in each bite. The filling is my favorite part, and cuts the richness of the chocolate with nice sweetness.

My mom is a lifelong chocoholic and each birthday I try making her a chocolate dessert she'll love, that I'll enjoy too, I AM the baker after all! These are kid friendly and can bring out the child in any grown up! They'd make a great gift if someone in your life loved the commercial versions.

The ingredient list seems long, with components for the batter, filling, and glaze; but the steps are easy to follow and uncomplicated. The filling needs time to chill, make sure to start it when you bake the cupcakes so you aren't in the kitchen all day. You cut off a bit of the cone you cut from the center of the cupcakes, so the filling has room, and you get to enjoy the cuttings if that helps motivate you!

If you love a chocolate marshmallow combo, or simply want to travel back to your childhood lunchbox, I hope you'll make Chocolate Cream Cupcakes soon, enjoy!

Makes 12 cupcakes
Recipe from Cook's Country Magazine, February/March 2010

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

You'll need:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon instant espresso
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups marshmallow crème (don't substitute marshmallow sauce)

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Step 2: Prepare Batter

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Whisk water, cocoa, chocolate chips, and espresso in 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. Bake until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out with few dry crumbs attached, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool cupcakes in tin 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.

Step 3: Prepare Filling

While the cupcakes bake, 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.

Stir in butter, vanilla, and salt until combined. Let mixture cool until just warm to touch, about 5 minutes, then whisk in marshmallow creme until smooth (takes a bit of effort, just keep whisking); refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. It will seem thin, but will set up quite thick.

Transfer 1/3 cup marshmallow mixture to pastry bag fitted with small plain tip (I don't have small pastry bags, so I used a snack size Ziploc); reserve remaining mixture for filling cupcakes.

Step 4: Core and Fill Cupcakes

Microwave chocolate and butter in small bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 30 seconds. Cool glaze to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

Cut cones from the cupcakes by inserting the tip of a paring knife at a 45-degree angle about 1/4 inch from the edge of the cupcake. Cut out and remove the cake cone. Since each cupcake cone is a little different, I placed the cones on a piece of wax paper in the same spot their cupcake was on the rack, so I could keep each cone with it's original cupcake. For example, if I cut the cone from the top left cupcake, I placed the cone on the top left corner of wax paper.

Cut off all but the top 1/4 inch of the cone, leaving a circular disc of cake. Discard—better yet, eat!—the bottom of the cone.

Using a spoon, fill each cupcake with one tablespoon marshmallow mixture and then top with the reserved, trimmed, cake cone. If the tops of your cupcakes aren't uniform, or perfectly smooth, don't fret, the glaze does a great job of coating the tops.

Step 5: Glaze and Decorate Cupcakes

Frost each cupcake with 2 teaspoons cooled glaze, spreading it over the top as best as you can, and let sit 10 minutes.

Using pastry bag with reserved filling, pipe curlicues across glazed cupcakes. (As you can tell, I tried to get a bit fancy with the writing, I did my best to pipe my mom's initials because I made these for her birthday.) Serve.

Cupcakes can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

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