Turns out when you’re a Paris-trained pastry chef, the hard part about copying a Tastykake is finding ingredients that don’t taste too good.

French native Abigail Dahan runs the dessert program at Parc, Stephen Starr’s Rittenhouse brasserie, where she spends her days turning out up delicate macarons, ethereal souffles and intricate tarts. She probably grew up on sweets that were a bit more refined than Philly’s favorite snack cake, but that doesn’t keep her from appreciating their comforting simplicity.

For example, to mimic the sheet of icing atop Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes, she tried several different methods — cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, baking chocolate — before hitting on the perfect one. Melted chocolate chips.

“It has that almost waxy texture,” Dahan says. “It’s pretty close.”

After tasting the two side by side, it’s easy to say: Yes, they’re close. It’s also easy to say that Dahan’s cupcakes are at least 50x better. They actually taste like chocolate, for one thing, and the cream inside them tastes more like milk than plastic.

Best part? They’re super easy to make. Check it out in the video and see the full recipe below.

YouTube video

Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

by Abigail Dahan of Parc


½ cup oil
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
⅓ cup + 1 Tbps sour cream
1¼ cup flour
⅔ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

Put eggs, sugar and oil into mixing bowl with whisk. Mix for 5 minutes on medium speed. Add the sour cream and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. In alternating quantities, add the sifted dries (flower, cocoa powder, baking soda) and the buttermilk, starting with the dries. Make sure to scrape after every addition to avoid lumps.Fill cupcake liners halfway with the batter and bake at 325°F (use convection fan if available) until the cake is springy to the touch (12-15 minutes depending on oven).


1½ cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whip the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until stiff peak form. Put into a piping bag. With a melon baller, scoop out some of the center of each cooled cupcake and fill with the vanilla cream.


5½ Tbsp soft butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup melted chocolate chips

Put the butter and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment and mix until fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla extract while mixing on low speed, and mix until incorporated. Add the melted and lightly cooled chocolate chips (do not add when hot or it will make the frosting soupy). Frost away!

Danya Henninger is director and editor of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation, including the membership program. She is a former food and...