Hats off to chocolate: Hi Hat Cupcakes

On Abraham Lincoln, the top hat imbued honesty into his every word. On Fred Astaire, the hat conveys every movement as beauty and grace. Even Mr. Peanut wears a top hat when he’s steppin’ out in style. So, how does that tie in with cupcakes?

Enter the Hi Hat (aka High Hat) cupcake. A tender chocolate cupcake topped with over 2 inches of marshmallow icing, dipped in rich chocolate coating. How much more graceful and stylish can you get?

I’ve been enamored with Hi Hat cupcakes since I first saw them in Elinor Klivans’ book Cupcakes!.  It was one of the first cupcake books I ever purchased and her photo of hi hats played a big role in my purchase. Miles of marshmallow topping surrounded by a layer of chocolate. It looked just like a vanilla soft serve cone dipped in that magic dip that hardens in seconds. I just had to have it!

Would I bite off the tip of the chocolate and schluck out the marshmallow like a noisy anteater? Would I bite near the base, leaving smudges of chocolate on my nose and forehead?  Whatever I decided, I knew the hi hat was going to be a gloriously delicious messy milestone in my cupcake lovin’ like.

So who am I to withhold such a fantastic fantasy from you? Never fear, we’ll hold hands and do it together. Let’s make Hi Hat Cupcakes.

You’ll need cupcakes to start with. I used our Deliciously Simple Chocolate cake mix.  You can use standard sized cupcakes, absolutely, but I wanted to try some oversized cupcakes to use as 2 person treat. These mini round pans fit the bill to a T.

Placing the pans on a lined baking sheet will add stability, and make it easy to get the pans in and out of the oven.

It’s important to fill these pans just halfway full. You’ll see why in just a moment.

Bake the cuppies in the center of the oven. Standard sized cupcakes take about 15 to 18 minutes. These oversized ones take about 20 to 25 minutes.

I told you too much batter in the cups was a mistake. No worries, I found plenty of volunteers to eat the ones that volcanoed.

Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely.

After the cupcakes have cooled, you need to make the marshmallow filling.

In a measuring cup, bring 3/4 cup of water to a boil in the microwave. Stir in 1/2 cup of granulated sugar until completely dissolved. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once the sugar water is cool, add 1/4 cup of meringue powder to the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the sugar water and whip for several minutes until very stiff peaks form.  This will take about 10 to 15 minutes in a stand mixer.

The marshmallow topping should be quite firm and hold high peaks. If it is too soft, it won’t hold up to the dipping process.

Fill a disposable pastry bag or zip lock kitchen bag with the marshmallow.

Cut a large opening in the bag. It should be about the size of a dime when opened. A little bit larger is fine, but don’t go any smaller.

Now for the piping. Take the cupcake and brush off any extra crumbs.

Pipe a circle around the edge of the cupcake and then fill it in with marshmallow.

Repeat with a second layer, slightly smaller in diameter than the first. Think vanilla soft serve in a cone.  You want a total of 4 layers, each a bit smaller than the previous.

Make a mistake? No worries, just scoop off the marshmallow and try again.

If piping isn’t your thing, you can still swirl on the marshmallow, but it won’t get nearly as high.

See? Swirled with a knife on the left, piping on the right. Yes, oh, yes that is a lot of marshmallow. These hi hats aren’t for the faint of heart.

You can see how different cupcakes look compared to each other. Don’t fret little cuppies, you are all lovely to me.

Place the piped cupcakes in the freezer for several hours to set up. It’s important for the marshmallow to be cold and firm so that it can hold up to the big dip.

When you are ready to dip, blend together 2 cups of melted chocolate with 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Chocolate chips work very well in this dip, as they are meant to set back up once melted.

Smooth baby, smooooth.

Cool the chocolate mixture to room temperature.  Pour the chocolate dip into a deep, narrow glass or cup. You are looking to submerge the whole top of the cupcake, so shallow bowls are out for this round.

Bombs er… cuppies away!

Dip so that the entire marshmallow crest is covered, but not so deep as to dip the cupcake. The dripping chocolate will take care of that.  Hold the cupcake upside down over the glass for the excess to drip off a bit.

Set the cupcake upright on the tray to firm up.

Let’s be honest, it will take a few tries to get it just right.

If the chocolate is too warm, it will melt the marshmallow and your hi hat will become a slouchy beret.

One of the few times that too much chocolate isn’t a good thing. Try not to be over zealous in your dipping.

A nice smooth coating will dry by itself at room temperature. I found it very funny how they tended to dry from the bottom up. Patience is a virtue here, but you can use the freezer or fridge to speed things up.

So, how about those oversized sharing cupcakes? Web director Halley’s daughters Daisy and Bella were very willing to give it a go.

Man oh man! Check out that chocolate coating holding in miles of sky high marshmallow. I think Bella has the right idea, these are going to be finger lickin’ good!

And Daisy thinks so too!

Thanks for sharing, girls. Hope Mom’s office didn’t end up too sticky.

Hi hat cupcakes make a special treat for special occasions. A few nuts sprinkled on the soft chocolate dip would dress them up a bit, and a few bright  candy decorations would turn them into a bevy of beauties for birthday parties. Just remember to bring plenty of napkins.

Please bake, rate and review our recipe for Hi Hat Cupcakes.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour’s baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. lazyquilter

    How difficult would it be to make a mini?
    I think minis would be adorable and very possible! Please send or post some pictures if you make them. ~Amy @KAF

  2. aikiwoman1

    I can’t wait to tell my sister about this recipe- when she was a little girl she always asked my mother to bring these home.

    This recipe sounds just like the one my father used to make for his bakery in New York City back in the day. He called them “chocolate bells” and they were a favorite with many of the customers. I will be making them for Super Bowl Sunday (minis or regular size) and will post how they were received.
    Great! Can’t wait to see if they score a touchdown at your party! ~MaryJane

  3. "Liz Davids"

    I have made these Hi-hat cupcakes a couple of times now after seeing them on a talk show a few years back. They take a little practice to perfect the dipping technique- like you said. They are SO good. I made them for a big family picnic a while back. It was a hot July evening and lets just say the chocolate became a big mess. We had a lot of fun trying to eat them without getting covered in chocolate but I now know it is best to keep them refrigerated. Thanks for such great posts, I love the blog!

  4. donna

    How far in advance could these be made and how would you store ? Counter top or refrigerator
    I’d say you can make and freeze them overnight before dipping, then dip and serve. Store any leftovers in the fridge to prevent the chocolate from melting. ~ MaryJane

  5. baker from scratch

    Can KAF *ever* feature a recipe that *doesn’t* absolutely require at least one ingredient that they sell in order to work correctly??

    Maybe “from scratch” geeks aren’t spending high dollars for value-added products, but sometimes that kind of kid wants to play, too.
    Sorry, but true.
    Hmmm, I’m not sure which ingredient or product you mean, but you can definitely make all of this recipe from scratch. Your favorite cupcake recipe, a good sturdy marshmallow icing and some melted chocolate and you are on the way. We do try to give substitutions whenever possible, and if we forget give the bakers hotline a call, we’ll do our best to help you make the recipe at home. ~ MaryJane

  6. Rita Heikenfeld

    Oh my gosh, can I share this entry on on my blog at cincinnati.com (Cooking with Rita)? These look amazing….
    Gosh, Rita, you sure can. I’m tickled pink! ~ MaryJane

  7. ddemby

    how far in advance can these be made? How would you store the cupcakes, counter top or refrigerator.
    I’d say you can make and freeze them overnight before dipping, then dip and serve. Store any leftovers in the fridge to prevent the chocolate from melting. ~ MaryJane

  8. aaf005

    I wonder how well it would work making the sundae cone cupcakes with the hi hat top? It would be super fun to eat!
    I bet that would work out great, and be really fun. Just be sure you have a good way to balance the cupcakes while the chocolate coating firms up.
    ~ MaryJane

  9. tarragonmh

    To “baker from scratch”, if you are referring to the meringue powder, it is widely available at most grocery stores. I don’t see any special ” KAF only” ingredients in this recipe.
    This looks pretty good- would coconut oil work as the oil in the chocolate coating?
    Hi there,
    I don’t see why coconut oil wouldn’t work for the coating, I’d say give it a go. ~ MaryJane

  10. Sue

    I have 8 pairs of little hands that help me..could I use fluff for the frosting? Thanks,Sue
    HI Sue,
    I did a little searching online and didn’t see any recipes using straight from the jar Fluff. My theory is that it would be too soft and wouldn’t hold up to the dipping. Sorry.
    If anyone has done this with pure Fluff, please let us know!!! ~ MaryJane

  11. milkwithknives

    Whoa, those are unbelievable! What do you think about putting a bit of color or flavoring in the marshmallow part? Would a bit of vanilla or lemon oil interfere with the consistency, and if not, would it even be worth it or would the flavor be lost under the onslaught of chocolate?

    Oh, boy, I love the thought of cracking through the chocolate lid on one of these things. I’ll certainly have to give them a try. Thanks!
    I’ve seen pictures of pink filled Hi Hats, so adding a drop of flavor (raspberry, cherry?) and a few drops of food coloring should work out just fine. Keep it light so it enhances the chocolate rather than competing with it, and you’ll be fine. ~MaryJane

  12. Blakeley from Utah

    yum! i’ve been wanting to make hi hat cupcakes for a while now and your recipe looks great! Question, could you use fresh egg whites instead of the meringue powder? Thanks!
    Hi Blakeley,
    Yes, you could use a marshmallow icing recipe with fresh eggs whites instead. There are several online. Have fun!
    ~ MaryJane

  13. ivyblum

    These look like the Liberty Bells I grew up eating. Just emailed this to my daughters… looks like I’ll be making these too!

    Thanks for the recipe!

    I’ve heard a couple of people mention bells when they see these cupcakes. I’ll have to Google them and see if I can find pics. ~ MaryJane

  14. gpyrocat

    I can’t wait to try these! Both my daughters worked summers at DQ – I can learn my dipping technique from them.
    It’s getting the little curly-Q at the top that’s so hard! I tried and tried with the Hi Hats, but need more practice I guess. Have fun! ~ MaryJane

  15. cdvetter

    I cannot wait to try these. Thanks for showing the oops moments. By doing so, making these cupcakes looks less intimidating for the rest of us. Thank you.
    Trust me, there are plenty of those moments for all of us in the test kitchen. We’ve been saving the doozies for the annual April Fool’s blog, so stay tuned. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  16. carla

    MJR et al – If I didn’t want to see your excellent ideas, recipes and products featured here…I wouldn’t visit. But, I come here for YOUR ideas, recipes and products…that’s the entire idea. PLEASE keep up the great work and keep promoting your products!

    P.S. Whenever I want to make one of your great ideas and don’t have everything I need…I improvise! Works like a charm every time! Thank you for promoting creativity!

  17. Cyn

    Those look so interesting!

    Well, I can sort of see bakerfromscratch’s point of view, as well as KAF’s view. Although I don’t get the sense from your recipes that we HAVE to use products KAF sells, I can see where others might think that. Maybe it would be helpful (and I know you all do so already) to highlight even more in your recipe blog comments that other ingredients will also work in recipes? Now, obviously, there are some recipes that are indeed ingredient-dependent (and I like that b/c it helps me envision how I might use that particular ingredient in various recipes!) Anyway, just a thought.

    Back to the recipe! I was thinking the marshmallow topping and chocolate dip would also be fun to try on a fairly sturdy sugar or shortbread cookie. Like — homemade Pinwheels or Mallomars?
    Wow, great idea. I’m sure the shortbread cookie would work out just fine. I’m guessing it would be a little harder to dip, but that’s the only issue I can think of. ~ MaryJane

  18. svanzutfen

    One of the things I appreciate about KAF is that so many of your recipes work without having to buy anything out of the ordinary! I’m a “from-scratch” nerd partially due to food allergies. Their recipe for Fudge Brownies calls for espresso powder, which we can’t use. No problem! They are still the best brownies I’ve ever made. Now or Later pizza — no semolina for us, but it is fine with KAF All-purpose.
    I’ve made many recipes from the KAF on a budget and without having to place any special orders. Obviously, use the “special” stuff if you can! But if you can’t due to cost, allergies, or just not wanting to, give it a try. The people at KAF have helped me go from pre-made/box mixes to from-scratch for cookies, bread, pie crust, cakes, brownies, biscuits, and pizza!
    These cupcakes are cute! And, thanks for showing both the slouchy berets and lava-cupcakes to encourage those of us struggling with less-than-lovely (but still yummy!) results 🙂
    We are happy to have been a help in your baking success!

  19. jayopspk

    Could you use a traditional egg white meringue in place of the powder formula? Love your recipes.

    Yes, give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

    Be sure to beat the meringue to very stiff peaks. If it is too soft, it won’t hold up. ~ MaryJane

  20. chris348

    I made these between yesterday and today – froze the cupcakes with the marshmallow overnight. It seemed that the chocolate was a little too thick for my liking (or I let it cool too much), so I may try to thin it out a little more in the future. Also, I melted some white chocolate and did the same with a few cupcakes and they all turned out wonderfully. My neighbors were rather pleased with me on this snowy Michigan day.

  21. sunon65

    these cupcakes are fun and tasty i did them being snowed in in okc ok i used a white cake base for them and found a recipe for the marshmellow icing on the net i dipped them in white chocolate because thats what i had on hand and spinkled them with red and white sugar thank you for the great pics of the cupcakes looking at these cute little snow moutains of mine makes me smile thanks
    The red and white sugar on top must look so cheery! Great idea. Elisabeth

  22. gemini

    I made these today, baked in ice cream cones. My nephew is (patiently?) waiting for dinner so he can have dessert! They are extremely cute, especially if you squint and tilt your head. I had some issues with the meringue and dipping. I think I have slouch hats instead of top hats. 🙂
    While I have yet to actually order from KAF, I appreciate your blog and recipes. I don’t feel pressured to buy your products. Thanks for that!
    Slouch hats I’m sure taste just as good as top hats! Should we ask your nephew? I am glad you are enjoying the recipes and ideas from our blog. Thank you for posting! Elisabeth

  23. SKRobbins

    Hi Mom, I keep forgetting to comment on this blog to say that you can now call these prize winning…okay just a school prize but still, these cupcakes won me first prize at my school’s winter carnival. WOOHOO! Hooray for MaryJane aka Mom! 😀
    Thanks Shan! You worked hard and deserve the credit. Now, shut off the computer and go clean your room. 😉
    ~ Mom

  24. chinchillalover

    I have no meringue powder,but i wanna make these for a friend(she likes to bake too.I recommended this site.)soon.PLEASE HAVE IDEAS!
    You could try using a boiled icing instead, or use Marshmallow Fluff. Enjoy! ~ MaryJane

  25. Skye Savage

    I just made these as minis, paired with the “Bake Sale Fudge Cupcakes”. 15 minutes to bake them as minis, and use mini chocolate chips or else your cupcake is pretty much half chocolate chips. Make sure that your meringue is very stiff, and freeze them after piping for at least 4 hours. These will be for my sister’ wedding tomorrow, and I can’t wait until she sees them! Very tasty, if a little messy! I have chocolate everywhere!


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