It's 7pm on a Sunday. You're wrapping up dinnertime, negotiating bath times, getting ready for pjs, and thinking about the week ahead. And, oh yeah, by the way, "Mom, tomorrow we're having a party in my class. I forgot to tell you. Can you send in a treat for me?"
Oh, I love my kid to bits, but as a parent of a kid with food restrictions, these classroom parties may just be the death of me. If you don't have a kid with allergies, you don't know the dread the rest of us feel every time there is a birthday party or a holiday celebration at school. I could say harsher things about some parents who throw fits when a principal tries to implement a no-food policy when it comes to celebrations, but to what end? I'm actually a big proponent of food-free parties given the high rate of childhood obesity and diabetes, not to mention the feelings of the kids whose parents can't bring in treats due to financial or time restraints.... I could go on and on. But, bottom line, as a parent of kid with food restrictions, we all want our child to be happy and we all want our kid to be able to participate fully in the school experience. Sooooo... it's 11pm and I'm baking up a batch of cupcakes.
You've been there, I know. I always keep a box of King Arthur GF Chocolate Cake Mix and even a tub of Duncan Hines frosting on hand... even though I loathe using store-bought frosting. (The kid likes it though. Blech.) If you're lucky enough to live near a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, you can always run out first thing in the morning to buy a cupcake for your kid, but I have to admit I'm a snob when it comes to store-bought vs. homemade. Guilty as charged. I'll buy cupcakes, yes...but, I prefer to send my son in with something homemade... even if it is a boxed mix.
But, there are still ways to make your boxed mix something special even if you're not the most adept at piping frosting (ahem, raised hand). The techniques I'm about to share aren't exactly hard to do.... but they do take a couple of extra steps. That said, they're worth it and will give your GF kid the chance to safely taste the magic of a Hostess Cupcake. Marshmallow fluff pumped into the middle and all.
Gluten Free Hostess Cupcakes, aka Fancify Your Boxed Cake Mix
- 1 GF boxed cake mix that makes 24 cupcakes (I highly recommend King Arthur GF mixes)
- 9 TBSPs unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2-1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1-1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff (one small tub)
- 9 TBSPs heavy cream, divided
- 6 oz bittersweet chocolate chips (I love Ghiradelli's or Guittard)
Bake your cake mix as specified on the box. I recommend using 2 cupcake liners per cupcake. You'll end up peeling them both off to fill the cupcakes interior and then reusing the outer liner.
While the cupcakes are cooling, pull out your stand mixer and prepare to make the marshmallow fluff filling. Combine room temperature butter, powdered sugar, and marshmallow fluff in your stand mixer and beat until combined. Add 3 TBSPs heavy cream and mix until fully-combined. If the fluff mixture still seems stiff, consider adding a bit more heavy cream. If the fluff is too thick it will be torture to pipe it into the cupcake interiors. The end mixture should be light like a pipeable buttercream.
Gently remove cupcake liners from cupcakes, setting aside the outer liner for reuse. Fill a pastry bag with fluff filling and using a very small piping tip or a tip that is meant for filling pastries, pipe fluff into the center of each cupcake just until you see the top of the cupcake start to bulge. Fill all cupcakes, saving about a quarter cup of the fluff for decorating the tops of the cupcakes later.
Time for the chocolate topping. Add 6 TBSPs heavy cream to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over low heat just until bubbles start to form around the edges of the cream. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until they have completely melted and the cream and chocolate are combined. Drop a small pat (1/2 TBSP-ish) of butter into the mixture and stir until melted.
There are two ways to top your cupcakes with the chocolate frosting. You can either flip them upside down and dip them into the chocolate sauce or spread a spoonful of chocolate over the top of each cupcake. Do what works best for you. You just want a light coating of chocolate on the top of each cupcake. Place cupcakes in fridge (or out on the porch if it's winter) for about 20 minutes to let the chocolate set for about
Once the chocolate has set, it's time to decorate. Feel free to do the traditional curly-que swirl that I'm sure is trademarked by Hostess or, if it's a holiday, pipe some fluff in an appropriate shape on top of the chocolate frosting. I did hearts for Valentine's Day, but you could do numbers if it's for a birthday, pumpkins for Halloween, dye the fluff green and pipe a shamrock for St. Patrick's Day.... the options are limitless.
And, that's how you fancify a boxed cake mix!