Hostess Lights Low-Fat Cupcakes copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur

Hostess Lights Low-Fat CupCakes

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The Twinkie company, otherwise known as Hostess, was one of the first to introduce reduced-fat baked goods to the masses. In 1990 the company took its most popular products and created lower-fat versions under the "Hostess Lights" label. Among the company's well-known low-fat offerings is this popular cupcake, with its seven loops of white icing on the top of frosted, creme-filled cake. Here's a way you can recreate these popular cupcakes at home, with applesauce in the cake to help replace the fat, and filling made with marshmallow creme.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size–1 cupcake 
Total servings–12 
Calories per serving–220 
Fat per serving–1.5g

Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

Get This

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour (unsifted)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 7-oz jar marshmallow creme
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate frosting
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (rounded)
  • 1/3 cup very hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown food paste coloring (optional)
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
White frosting
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon meringue powder (optional)
Do This

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. To make the cake, beat together the sugar, applesauce, egg substitute, and vanilla in a large bowl for one minute.

3. In a separate medium bowl combine the cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and use a wire whisk to break up any lumps of cocoa.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the previous wet ingredients and mix together. Add the buttermilk and whole milk, then beat the mixture until smooth.

5. Spoon the batter into a 12-cup muffin tin, sprayed lightly with nonstick spray. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Turn the cupcakes out onto a cooling rack.

6. As the cupcakes cool, prepare the filling by combining 1/4 teaspoon salt with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl or cup. Microwave for 10 to 20 seconds on high, then stir until the salt is dissolved.

7. Beat the marshmallow creme with the shortening in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add the powered sugar, salt, water, and vanilla and beat well.

8. When the cakes have cooled, use a toothpick to poke a hole into the top of each cupcake. Swirl the toothpick around inside the cake to make room for the filling. Fill each cupcake with about 2 teaspoons of the filling.

9. For the chocolate frosting, measure 1 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of cocoa powder into a deep 1 1/2- to 2-quart Pyrex bowl. Add a rounded 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix the ingredients together.

10. Add the 1/3 cup of very hot water and the vanilla to the mixture and stir until all ingredients are well combined.

11. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave at 50 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir carefully to continue dissolving the sugar crystals. Then replace the plastic wrap tightly over the bowl. Microwave on high in 30-seconds increments (to avoid boiling over) for 2 minutes. The mixture should begin to bubble, but watch it carefully so that it doesn't boil over. Remove the mixture from the microwave, poke holes in the plastic wrap so that steam will escape, and let the mixture stand for 15 minutes.

12. Carefully uncover the bowl (the contents will be very hot). Add 1 teaspoon dark brown food paste coloring to the hot syrup (this is an optional step that creates dark frosting like the original).

13. Stir in the sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix thoroughly after each addition. You may need to add a few drops of water to the frosting to make it easier to spread. Spread about 2 teaspoons of frosting on each cupcake. You may want to moisten your knife to help the frosting spread on smoothly.

14. Make the white frosting for the design on the top of the cupcakes by mixing 1/3 cup sifted powered sugar with 1 teaspoon nonfat milk. Add 1 teaspoon meringue powder to the mixture, if you like, to make the frosting more opaque, like the original. Use a pastry bag with a #3 tip and make small loops down the middle of the top of each frosted cupcake.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Tidbits: You can create small pastry bags for the filling and the white frosting decoration by cutting the corner off of small plastic storage bags. First add the filling or frosting to the bag, then just clip the tip of a corner with scissors. Also, the cupcakes are best if eaten within a couple days of filling.

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I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

For over 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original copycat recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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