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Enjoy a homemade version of the classic packaged treat! These dreamy cream-filled chocolate cupcakes start with a moist and deeply chocolatey cupcake, which is filled with fluffy whipped vanilla buttercream, and topped with a rich 2-ingredient chocolate ganache. Truly one of the best desserts I’ve ever baked and every single taste tester has RAVED about them.

7 cream-filled chocolate cupcakes on marble counter with pink linen in left bottom corner.

I feel like I’ve said this before, but this is truly my new favorite cupcake recipe. Honestly. I close my eyes in delight every time I bite into one. They are that good.

Why You’ll Love These Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

  • The cupcakes are basically this popular chocolate cake, but halved
  • Extra soft & moist, not dense or dry at all
  • Extreme chocolate flavor; hot liquid “blooms” the cocoa
  • Sweet, fluffy vanilla cream in the center
  • Chocolate topping is just 2 ingredients and sets into a soft fudge-like texture
  • Like the packaged American treat, but fresh & homemade
cream-filled chocolate cupcakes on wooden cake stand and 1 cupcake has bite taken out to reveal cream center.

Even for an assembled/decorated cupcake, the process is still pretty straightforward. Make the cupcakes, carve a little hole in the center of the cooled cupcakes, fill with an easy whipped buttercream, and spread ganache on top. Use any extra filling to pipe on a squiggly loopy-loop (technical terms). Let me explain some key ingredients and show you this process in photos.

Make the Chocolate Cupcakes First

I decided to use my very favorite (and reader-loved!) chocolate cake as the base for today’s cupcake recipe. I practically halved all of the ingredients. My regular super moist chocolate cupcakes are great, but they are prone to sinking and can be quite fragile.

For the BEST texture and flavor, you need these key ingredients:

  1. Natural Cocoa Powder: Use unsweetened, natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-process). You can read about the difference in this post: Dutch-process vs. Natural Cocoa Powder. I typically use Hershey’s (the regular kind, not the Special Dark) or Ghirardelli brand cocoa powder. (Not affiliated with these brands, just a fan of the products.)
  2. Oil: Cocoa powder is a very drying ingredient, so you’ll usually find it paired with oil in cake and cupcake recipes. Oil provides moisture and doesn’t weigh down a baked good. Vegetable oil is ideal, but melted coconut oil or even light olive oil may be used instead.
  3. Buttermilk: The team and I tested these cupcakes with buttermilk and with sour cream. Made with buttermilk, they have the best flavor, but can be a little soft and sticky, so slightly more difficult to cut and fill. Made with sour cream, they have a sturdier crumb, but the chocolate flavor isn’t as strong. We liked the buttermilk cupcakes best, and a quick chill in the refrigerator after they’ve fully cooled helps make the filling/assembly process easier.
  4. Hot Coffee or Hot Water: Hot liquid enhances the cocoa powder’s flavor. It also encourages it to bloom and dissolve appropriately. I promise these cupcakes don’t taste like coffee at all! If you don’t drink coffee, you can use hot water. For deeper and richer flavor, though, use coffee. You can either brew it in a coffee maker or make instant coffee. Decaf coffee works!

You also need all-purpose flour (cake flour is too light when paired with cocoa powder), baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, egg, & vanilla extract.

flour, baking soda, baking powder, oil, buttermilk, cocoa powder, coffee, and other ingredients on counter.

Spoon/pour the thin batter into muffin pan lined with cupcake liners—you should have enough batter to make 15 cupcakes, so you will either need 2 muffin pans or you can divide and bake them in 2 batches. Fill the liners about 2/3 full. If you use the batter to make fewer than 15 cupcakes, you are overfilling the lined cups and your cupcakes will spill over the sides.

Optional (but recommended) step: When the cupcakes are completely—or nearly completely—cool, place them in the refrigerator for 20–30 minutes to make them a bit easier to carve into and fill.

chocolate batter in glass dish and shown again in muffin liners.

The cupcakes bake up nice and flat on top:

3 chocolate cupcakes stacked on top of one another and shown again cooling on wire cooling rack.

And now… is there any topping more rich and indulgent-tasting than chocolate ganache?

Make the Chocolate Ganache

Even though it’s the topping, I recommend making the chocolate ganache before you make the filling and while the cupcakes cool. This is because the ganache also needs to cool and thicken.

You need just 2 ingredients to make chocolate ganache:

  1. Pure Chocolate: Make sure you use real, quality chocolate. I typically use the 4-ounce baking bars found in the grocery store baking aisle, by Ghirardelli or Baker’s. You can use quality chocolate chips instead, but the ganache won’t be as smooth, as chocolate chips have stabilizers in them. You need 6 ounces, which is 1.5 bars (170g). 8 ounces proved to be too much and 4 ounces wasn’t enough.
  2. Heavy Cream: This may be called by another name where you are, like heavy whipping cream or double cream. Just make sure it has a minimum of 36% fat content, otherwise it won’t set up as well. Usually you should use 6 ounces of cream per 6 ounces of chocolate, but I recently reduced it down to 2/3 cup (just over 5 ounces), so the ganache is a little thicker.

Heat the cream on the stovetop, pour over finely chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl, let sit for a few minutes, and then slowly stir until the chocolate has all melted. The ganache will be very thin at first, but since chocolate is solid at room temperature, the ganache will thicken as it cools:

thickened chocolate ganache in glass bowl.

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream

For the cream portion of these cream-filled chocolate cupcakes, use fluffy whipped vanilla buttercream. This is the same whipped buttercream frosting I use for vanilla sheet cake, but with the ingredient ratios adjusted to yield less. You need just enough to fill 15 cupcakes, with a little leftover to pipe the squiggly loops on top. LOL.

You’re basically making a regular vanilla buttercream frosting, but whipping it on high speed for a few minutes to make it extra light, fluffy, and almost marshmallow-tasting. Many homemade Hostess-style cupcake recipes use shortening or store-bought marshmallow creme (fluff) in the filling, but this one uses just 5 simple ingredients: butter, confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Feel free to use this marshmallow meringue as the filling instead, if you’d like.

whipped vanilla buttercream frosting in glass bowl.

Fill & Assemble the Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Alright, let’s do this! With a sharp knife, cut a circle in the cupcake, and remove the center, which will be roughly the shape of a cone. Using a small spoon, fill the middle of the cupcake with as much whipped buttercream as you can. (Usually between 1–2 teaspoons.) Slice/tear off the pointed tip of the cone-shaped piece of cupcake, and gently press the round piece back on top of the filling.

This can get messy because the cupcakes are oh-so-soft and moist. That’s fine, you’re covering up the mess with ganache.

With a knife or small icing spatula, spread the thickened chocolate ganache on top of the cupcakes.

Let’s see all of that come together:

process photos combined into 1 collage showing carving and filling a chocolate cupcake with vanilla cream.

Optional: Pipe the Squiggly Loopy Loops

For the finishing touch, fit a small round piping tip (I use Wilton #6) to a piping bag and fill with the remaining whipped buttercream. I went for the signature Hostess cupcake look by piping the loopy loops across the top of each cupcake, but feel free to get creative with your design. An initial, a heart, smiley face, birthday age/number, etc. You could even decorate them as Halloween cupcakes. Or skip this decorating step entirely.

homemade version of Hostess cream-filled chocolate cupcakes on wooden cake stand.
2 Hostess-style homemade cream-filled chocolate cupcakes on white plate.

How about a cake version? I thought some might ask! See recipe Note below.

See Your Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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cream-filled chocolate cupcakes on wooden cake stand and 1 cupcake has bite taken out to reveal cream center.

Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 15 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Fill these deeply chocolatey cupcakes with fluffy whipped vanilla buttercream and top with a rich 2-ingredient chocolate ganache. See the step-by-step photos above or use the video tutorial below as your guide.



Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk*, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot coffee or hot water

Chocolate Ganache Topping

  • 6 ounces (170g) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup (160ml or 5.3 ounces) heavy cream

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream Filling

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoonpure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. This recipe yields about 15 cupcakes, so line a second muffin pan with 3 cupcake liners or bake in batches.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, sugar, egg, vanilla, and buttermilk together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot coffee/water, and whisk until the batter is completely combined. Batter is thin.
  3. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners, filling only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. You should have enough batter for 15 cupcakes. Bake for 20–22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cupcakes must be completely cooled—and even chilled for 20–30 minutes in the refrigerator if they’re particularly sticky on top—before assembling.
  5. Make the chocolate ganache: Place finely chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil—that’s too hot!) Pour over chocolate, then let it sit for 2–3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. With a metal spoon or small rubber spatula, very slowly stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Ganache is thin. The finer you chopped the chocolate, the quicker it will melt with the cream. If it’s not melting, do not microwave it. If needed, see Troubleshooting Chocolate Ganache. Once ganache mixture is smooth, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 30 minutes to thicken before spreading on cooled and filled cupcakes.
  6. Make the whipped vanilla buttercream filling: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add up to 1/4 cup (30g) more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another 1 Tablespoon (15ml) of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I add a very tiny pinch of salt.) Frosting should be extra fluffy.
  7. Fill the cupcakes: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the center of the cooled cupcakes to create a little pocket about 1 inch deep. The piece you removed will be sort of cone-shaped. Spoon or pipe whipped buttercream inside each carved-out cupcake—use however much frosting will fit. (I use either a teaspoon measuring spoon or Wilton piping tip #12 to fill cupcakes. Usually you can fit between 1–2 teaspoons of frosting in each.) Slice/tear off the pointy end of the “cone” piece of cupcake you removed, and gently press the round piece back on top of the filling.
  8. Top with ganache: With a knife or small icing spatula, spread the thickened chocolate ganache on top of each cupcake. Spread on a thick layer, so it’s sets as a thick fudge-like topping.
  9. (Optional) Pipe icing swirl/loops on top: Fill a piping bag with the remaining vanilla buttercream. Pipe a looping swirl, or any design you prefer, on top of the ganache-covered cupcake. (No need to chill ganache-topped cupcakes before doing this.) I use Wilton piping tip #6 for piping.
  10. Serve immediately or store covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before serving. Cover and store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I recommend a cupcake carrier for storing and transporting decorated cupcakes.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Bake the cupcakes 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and fill/frost the day of serving. Whipped buttercream and chocolate ganache can be prepared the day before too. Cover each and refrigerate overnight. The ganache will be nice and thick. If needed to thin out, spoon ganache into heatproof bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Stir constantly until thinned out. Unfrosted, unfilled cupcakes can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before assembling and serving.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Small Icing Spatula | Cupcake Liners | USA Pan Cupcake Pan or Wilton Cupcake Pan| Handheld or Stand Mixer | Reusable Piping Bag or Disposable Piping Bags | Wilton #6 Icing Tip
  3. Cupcakes Sinking: The cupcakes may look like they’re sinking in the center while they’re baking, but they should pop back up by the time baking is finished. It doesn’t matter all that much if they sink a bit in the center, though, because we’re cutting out the middles and filling them with cream.
  4. Buttermilk vs. Sour Cream: I tested these cupcakes both ways. Made with buttermilk, they have the best flavor, but can be a little soft and sticky, so slightly more difficult to cut and fill (I recommend a quick chill in the refrigerator before cutting and filling, to make them a bit easier to work with). Made with sour cream, they have a sturdier crumb, but the chocolate flavor isn’t as strong. You can also try using half of each, if you happen to have both!
  5. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cupcakes won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  6. Hot Coffee or Hot Water: Hot liquid enhances the cocoa powder’s flavor. It also encourages it to bloom and dissolve appropriately. I promise these cupcakes don’t taste like coffee at all! If you don’t drink coffee, you can use hot water. For deeper and richer flavor, though, use coffee (regular or decaf, but make sure it’s black with no sugar or cream). You can either brew it in a coffee maker or make instant coffee.
  7. Chocolate for Ganache: Real, quality chocolate is ideal for ganache to set properly. I use the 4-ounce baking bars found in the grocery store baking aisle, such as Ghirardelli or Baker’s brands. You’ll need 1.5 of the 4-ounce bars to yield 6 ounces. If you can’t find those, you can use 170g (about 1 cup) of high-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  8. Can I Make This Into a Cake? Absolutely. Use my chocolate cake recipe for 2 cake layers, spread the whipped buttercream on one cooled cake, top with 2nd cake, and top entire cake with ganache.
  9. More Success Tips: Be sure to check out my How to Use Piping Tips post for instructions on how to fill a piping bag, and my How to Make Chocolate Ganache post for any ganache questions. And you can also read my 10 Tips for Baking the BEST Cupcakes.

Keywords: cream-filled chocolate cupcakes

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I made these for the monthly challenge. Bakers error our ganache was a bit chunky but the taste was great!

  2. Omg this was so amazing! I got nervous because a lot of people reported trouble with the ganache, but everything worked out perfectly! The buttercream was so good, tasted like marshmallow fluff! Id definitely make these again for a special occasion treat!

  3. These cupcakes were way easier to make than I anticipated. I didn’t have extra ganache, but I did have extra buttercream which I’ll mix with the cupcakes bits I cut off for cake balls for tomorrow.

    Everything came together really easily and the cupcakes were absolutely delicious! Another winner for sure!

  4. I made these cupcakes for my roommates and they all loved them. Definitely making them again for the holidays.

  5. This is sooo good and not too difficult! This one is for chocolate lovers like me 🙂

  6. First off this was an amazing recipe! As a new beginner to baking this was very easy and straightforward to follow. There was no issues other than artistic cosmetic mistakes but the flavor and consistency was perfect!

  7. Really tasty recipe! My ganache ended up getting too hard in the refrigerator and I had to reheat it with a double boiler. Even after chilling the cupcakes for over an hour, the tops were still sticky which made coring and filling a little challenging. Overall, these were really fun to make and super satisfying when everything came together!

  8. I was a little worried when my batter was a bit lumpy, but the cupcakes turned out great! I found that 35 min in the fridge led to the perfect ganache consistency for spreading. I made these for my chocolate-loving daughter’s 9th birthday and they were a hit! Everyone loved the surprise filling and the ganache was delicious.

  9. The cupcakes were moist and delicious! The recipe was easy to follow, but like others have commented, I did have a lot of extra ganache left over. I’m definitely saving the recipe to use again.

  10. The cupcakes, filling and ganache turned out great! They are definitely cupcakes for chocolate lovers due to the rich chocolate flavors.

  11. I put off doing this challenge until the last minute, but wow are these worth making. Between the delicious chocolate cupcakes, the filling, and the ganache, they came together beautifully. Maybe my kitchen was colder, but the ganache didn’t need to sit as long to cool and I had to reheat it to get to the right consistency. I also only used 4 oz of chocolate for the ganache and had enough. I would definitely make these again!

  12. Very easy to make. I love how the color of the cupcake turned out. Just how I like it. Taste was fabulous. Coffee really highlighted the chocolate flavor. The buttercream frosting was not too sweet just enough to compliment the cupcake. Made it 3 times already!

  13. I live in a high altitude city, so the first time I made the cupcakes, they bombed. The sunk in the middle like craters. I had to make high altitude adjustments the second time. They turned out great, and my husband said they taste like Hostess cupcakes, only better!

  14. Delicious and easy to follow recipe! Thank you for posting this challenge – loved it.

  15. I just made these for the October challenge and colored the frosting for the filling and top orange for Halloween! So cute and festive. They were absolutely delicious. My family all gave them 5 stars. The cake is easy to put together with no mixer, the buttercream is easy, the ganache is easy. Highly recommend!

  16. Made this today (before the deadline ended )
    I thought these were delicious and my 4 year old approved.

    Very decadent. I love the slight bitterness from the ganache with all the sweetness from the cake and buttercream.

    Thank you!

  17. I had a great time making this recipe! The cupcakes are delicious! My family devoured them!

  18. These cupcakes are delicious! Thank you, Sally for this wonderful recipe!

  19. I made this, filled mine with sweetened whipped cream but used your buttercream tinted orange for the decoration. Thanks for a fun delicious challenge, Sally!

  20. Easy to make and delicious. I dipped the cupcakes in ganache so they were nice and smooth. I dipped twice to get a nice thick topping. I had a lot of buttercream left so next time I will make less. As always, the recipes are easy to follow and delicious!

  21. This was so incredibly good!!!
    Easy to make and my grandkids loved it. Looks like real hostess cupcakes!!!! The

  22. both times i baked they sunk in the middle. the only change i made was bob’s red mill gluten free 1-1 baking flour, which i use all the time and have never had this happen. What did I do wrong?

    1. Hi Karen, I’m afraid we don’t have much experience with baking with GF flour, so can’t tell you for sure whether this is the cause. Sometimes these cupcakes can sink a little bit in the middle, but it doesn’t matter too much in this recipe as you’re going to cut into them and fill the centers with cream anyway.

  23. I’ve made soooo many of your recipes and this is the first time I feel like I failed. The taste of the cupcakes was great, but my ganache stayed runny even though I let it cool for over an hour, so next time I might whip it just a little. I’ll make some adjustments for next time, because I think it’s a strong recipe!

  24. Hi,
    These cupcakes seem so good, but I have a question can I replace the semi-sweet chocolate chips with cocoa powder for the ganache? although I think that I cannot because it’s not going to stay as thick if I used semi-sweet chocolate chips.

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