Copycat Vegan Hostess Cupcakes

The nostalgic cupcake classic made healthier! Vegan Hostess Cupcakes with a grain-free cake, easy cream filling, and rich chocolate ganache!

Copycat Vegan Hostess Cupcakes (grain-free)

My inner child really stole the recipe development reins and ran with this nostalgic recreation, but I could not be happier with her copycat cupcake work. These homemade hostesses (it’s a word now) are childhood joy and dreams all come true in one little wonderful handful of cake. We were not a pre-packaged, individually wrapped cake kind of household. I do remember a zebra cake from time to time and maybe a cosmic brownie or two, but these were not a key player in my childhood dessert life. I do remember lots of lunchbox envy though when some lucky kid would roll up with a lunchable AND a hostess cupcake. Not fair. Anyways! Many of you excitedly reminisced when I posted this recipe on Instagram, so I thought it only right they made it to the blog too.

Copycat Vegan Hostess Cupcakes (grain-free)

Homemade Healthier Hostess Cupcakes

I promise you the chocolate cake is properly moist and fluffy, and the cream filling is properly light and vanilla-y, and the chocolate ganache is properly fudgy – all the necessary hostess qualities are HERE. But there are a few healthier swaps and tweaks in the mix too!

Vegan Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

The chocolate cupcake itself is not only vegan, but grain-free and oil-free too. Even if you don’t want to go full out HOSTESS, this cupcake recipe is a favorite of mine and delicious on its own. You will need…

  • Applesauce. Unsweetened is best, you can sub pumpkin puree or non-dairy yogurt as well.
  • Nut or seed butter. I used SunButter, but peanut butter or almond would work too.
  • Maple syrup. Or agave or honey (if not vegan).
  • Dark chocolate. Just a little bit of melted chocolate in the batter makes them SO much richer, trust me it’s worth it. But since we are using melted chocolate, make sure all the other ingredients are at room temperature otherwise the batter will thicken up too much while you’re trying to mix.
  • Coconut flour. Part one of this fluffy grain-free flour story.
  • Arrowroot starch. And part 2. This combo together is MAGIC. You can swap in tapioca or cornstarch here as well.
  • Cocoa powder. Because one kind of chocolatey isn’t enough, of course.
  • Vanilla, baking soda, and salt.
Copycat Vegan Hostess Cupcakes (grain-free)
Copycat Vegan Hostess Cupcakes (grain-free)

Dairy-Free Cream Filling

After your cupcakes bake, you probably sacrifice one to a still-warm taste test, and hollow out the rest, its vanilla cream filling time. Although it works best to actually prep this part the day before so it has plenty of time to chill and thicken to a pipe-able frosting consistency. You will need…

  • Raw cashews. Soaked overnight (ideal) or at least 3 hours (just fine) or if you have a high speed blender and not much time and use boiling water, 30 minutes (me most of the time).
  • Coconut milk. Full fat from the can, or better yet coconut cream (just the solid part after you chill the can).
  • Agave. Or maple syrup is fine, but agave will keep the color a brighter white.
  • Coconut oil. This helps the frosting thicken when you chill it.
  • Vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.

This cashew cream works deliciously for the filling, but I will say its a bit imperfect for piping the swirls on top. A vegan buttercream would be neater, so if perfect presentation is important to you go that route instead.

Easy Vegan Chocolate Ganache

The easiest chocolate topping recipe you NEED in your life: semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips + full-fat coconut milk melted together for the dreamiest dairy-free chocolate ganache topping. It’s smooth, it’s rich, it’s decadent, it’s hostess topping perfect.

Copycat Vegan Hostess Cupcakes (grain-free)

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Copycat Vegan Hostess Cupcakes (grain-free)
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Copycat Vegan Hostess Cupcakes

  • Author: Natalie
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cupcakes
  • Category: cupcakes
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: american

Description

The nostalgic cupcake classic made healthier! Vegan Hostess Cupcakes with a grain-free cake, easy cream filling, and rich chocolate ganache!


Ingredients

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 cup (240g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup (125g) nut/seed butter of choice
  • 1/3 cup (105g) maple syrup or agave
  • 2oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (25g) coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup (30g) arrowroot starch (or corn/tapioca starch)
  • 2 tbsp (10g) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cream Filling*

  • 1 1/2 cups (180g) raw cashews, soaked at least 3 hours
  • 1/4 cup (60g) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup (80g) maple syrup or agave
  • ¼ cup (25g) coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Chocolate Ganache


Instructions

  1. Soak the cashews in warm water for at least 3 hours.

  2. Drain and rinse the cashews. Blend all the ingredients for the filling until very smooth. Chill to thicken at least 3-4 hours (or make it the day before!)

  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

  4. In a large mixing bowl, melt the dark chocolate for the cupcake batter.

  5. Whisk in applesauce, nut/seed butter, maple syrup, and vanilla (make sure all are at room temperature).

  6. Add coconut flour, arrowroot starch, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

  7. Grease 8 cavities of a cupcake pan. Scoop the batter into the pan, filling each ¾ of the way.

  8. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350°F.

  9. Cool 15 minutes in the pan, then gently remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

  10. When the cupcakes are cool, use a cupcake corer or teaspoon to create a cavity in the middle of each. 

  11. With a piping bag or spoon, fill each cupcake with cream filling.

  12. Melt the ganache ingredients together, whisk until smooth. Cool 10 minutes or so.

  13. Cover the top of each cupcake with a layer of chocolate ganache and refrigerate until ganache is set.

  14. Use a piping bag with a small round tip to pipe the classic swirl design on top

  15. And eat!


Notes

*You will have some leftover, but if you try to make a smaller batch it will not work in the blender. This cream works wonderfully for the filling but is a little tricky to pipe for the swirls on top, so if you want to use a vegan buttercream instead try this recipe: https://feastingonfruit.com/mint-chocolate-brownie-cookies/ (without the matcha and mint extract, sub 1 tsp vanilla)

Keywords: gluten free, grain free, kids, childhood, copycat, chocolate, cream, ganache, dairy free, healthy, dessert

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Copycat Vegan Hostess Cupcakes (grain-free)

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Copycat Vegan Hostess Cupcakes