Chocolate Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting

Published February 16, 2012. Updated January 9, 2024

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Upgrade your favorite dessert with these Chocolate Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting! Moist and delicious chocolate cupcakes, topped with the luxurious and complex flavors of penuche frosting (a caramel-y brown sugar fudge that you’ll LOVE) make your cupcakes more sophisticated. They’re sure to impress!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting

Lightened-up chocolate cupcakes that taste even better than their more fatty competitor?  Sign me up!  These cupcakes melt in your mouth!  You would never know that applesauce was added to lighten them up instead of butter or oil.  And the penuche frosting, where do I begin?  Let’s just say this stuff is worth gold to me =).

What is Penuche?

If you have never tried penuche, it’s an insanely delicious, caramel-like brown sugar fudge, and here it is in frosting form. If you’re a lover of fudge, caramel, or brown sugar flavors… you’re never going to want basic frosting again. The cupcake recipe is my own and the frosting recipe was adapted from; I love that site! If you haven’t tried penuche fudge, I definitely recommend it. Penuche often includes nuts (like walnuts), so you could incorporate walnuts into your cupcake mix or sprinkle chopped walnuts onto the frosting after icing.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting

When to Serve Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting

These cupcakes are decadent and luxurious. I love making them for a chocolate lover’s birthday, Valentine’s day, or a girls’ night. I think everyone will love them, but the penuche frosting is usually more of a win with the grown-up crowd. You can mix it up by adding festive sprinkles or perhaps drizzling with caramel or chocolate syrup! The consistency is easy to spread, but make sure you use a large icing tip and work quickly if you want to pipe the frosting—it’s thick and sets quickly. And of course, we love a fun and colorful cupcake liner!

16 Quick & Easy 30 Minute Recipes! (plus weekly recipe updates)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting

Deliciously soft and moist chocolate cupcakes with a tempting, sweet penuche frosting!
Servings: 24
Prep30 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour


Penuche Frosting


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill two muffin tins with paper liners and butter top of muffin tin. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in eggs, sour cream, applesauce, melted butter, buttermilk, molasses and vanilla and mix until blended. Stir in hot water and mix with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour about 1/4 cup mixture (or fill cups 3/4 full) into 24 paper lined muffin cups (there should be just a bit left over) and bake for 17-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting.

Penuche Frosting

  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in brown sugar and salt and bring mixture just to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in half-and-half and bring mixture just to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove mixture from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow mixture to cool to warm (original recipe states "lukewarm" but I found warm worked better) then beat in powdered sugar. Add hot water as needed to thin frosting out 1 tablespoon at a time. Immediately spread frosting over cooled cake/cupcakes before it sets.
  • Penuche Frosting Recipe adapted from
  • Cupcake Recipe Source: Cooking Classy


*I usually only have light brown sugar on hand so I just add 1 tsp molasses to this recipe along with the light brown sugar (rather than using dark brown).