I haven’t had a Hostess cupcake since the 5th grade. Tonight I’m going to eat three, continuing my downward spiral towards self-destruction at the expense of more blog hits. You can thank me at my funeral, tentatively scheduled for next week.
When I saw these Hostess Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes and Hostess Candy Corn Cupcakes appear on Instagram about a week ago, I began one of the most painstaking searches I’ve ever conducted. Let’s just say that having a Target employee approach you with confidence to ask “Weren’t you here earlier?” is not a very proud moment. I became so frustrated in my search that I settled for Hostess Sea Salt Caramel cupcakes after the “Limited Time Only!” branding drew me in from afar. Just when I had given up, my Target put up a “Something New Is Coming Soon!” banner. I briefly considered camping out, but instead returned the following day and became a proud father of way too many cupcakes.
Hostess Sea Salt Caramel Cupcakes were released back in May of this year, but I think salted caramel is an appropriate Fall flavor to include in this review. Whoops. I just noticed my cupcakes are two weeks past their “best by” date, but the show must go on. The cupcakes are described as “caramel iced yellow cake with sea salt topping & creamy caramel filling.” I tried the caramel frosting first and was quite pleased. It may be the kind of sweet that burns the back of your throat, but the flavor is distinctly caramel; hints of butterscotch.
The sea salt works as advertised but might contribute to the frosting’s excessive sweetness. Biting through the cake is the standard Hostess fare. Dense and buttery. The creamy caramel filling is where the magic happens. The cream also shines with caramel flavoring, but it’s a deeper, richer, and less sweet caramel than the icing. Eaten altogether, it all levels out nicely. Hostess Sea Salt Caramel cupcakes are a hit, and I can’t help but wonder what they tasted like BEFORE the “best by” date passed.
Good Enough To Eat After Expiration Date Rating: 7 out of 10
Wasn’t What I Sought Out to Buy Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
Next up: Hostess Candy Corn Cupcakes. While I don’t love candy corn, the color combination in these cupcakes alone made me drool with anticipation. It’s a good thing I don’t love candy corn, because these cakes are a complete and utter ruse. There’s no candy corn flavor whatsoever. I’m not exaggerating, people. The description is “frosted yellow cake with creamy filling.” Did you spot the words “candy corn” in the description? You didn’t, because they aren’t there. They’re not in the ingredients list either.
My wonderful mother sampled these and nailed it when she said “These are Twinkies.” Thanks Mom. She’s right, proving that moms know everything. The only difference between these and Twinkies is that the cake is less airy and spongey than a Twinkie. It’s the same exact flavor but with a density that reminds me of heavier pound cake. The icing doesn’t change the Twinkie flavor at all, because it’s not flavored with anything at all. Folks, we’ve been duped.
Neglected to Use the Only Ingredient They Were Supposed to Add Rating: 10 out of 10
Twinkie with a Makeover Rating: 10 out of 10
Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 10*
*Two points were given because I kinda like Twinkies.
On to the Main Event: Hostess Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes. These are described as “frosted pumpkin spice cake with creamy filling.” Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the pumpkin product I’ve been waiting for. I’m trying hard to contain my excitement and review this objectively. The cupcake base itself is a candidate for best pumpkin spice product of the year. It’s fresh, moist, and LOADED with ginger, nutmeg, and all the familiar pumpkin spices. The cake isn’t very sweet by itself, but the frosting adds the perfect amount of sugar. You wouldn’t expect this from Hostess.
There’s a whole mess of icing in the middle to provide a fun, creamy blast. The filling is the same standard Twinkie stuff and my tiniest criticism is there’s so much of it. But the slightly vanilla, mostly sugar cream pairs incredibly well with the fall spices. There’s just remarkable balance here for a cupcake wrapped in plastic stuffed inside a box. Up the cupcake total to four on the evening, because I just housed two of these. These Hostess Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes are going to be tough to top this holiday season.
Adds Significant Mileage To Your Car To Locate Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Completely Worth Being Shamed By Target Employee Rating: 10 out of 10
Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10
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