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 honestly would never know that applesauce was added to lighten them up in place of butter or oil.  And the penuche frosting, where do I begin?  Let’s just say this stuff is worth gold to me =).

If you have never tried penuche, it’s basically an insanely delicious, caramel like brown sugar fudge, and here it is in frosting form.  The cupcake recipe is my own and the frosting recipe was adapted from, thank you allrecipes love that site!

Remember to subscribe to the Cooking Classy newsletter to receive new recipe notifications delivered to your inbox!

Follow Cooking Classy on Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter for all of the latest updates, recipes and content.


Chocolate Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting

Deliciously soft and moist chocolate cupcakes with a tempting, sweet penuche frosting!

Servings: 24
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 6 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1/4 cup butter , melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp unsulphured molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup hot water

Penuche Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar*
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp hot water


  1. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Penuche Frosting Recipe adapted from
  3. Cupcake Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Recipe Notes

*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).

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Penuche Frosting
Author: Jaclyn


  • Thess: Hi! If I don’t have applesauce I could use butter? Or any other would u recommend or substitute? Thanks! June 17, 2013 at 11:23pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think butter or oil would work okay in place of the applesauce – you may want to use 1 Tbsp less though. June 19, 2013 at 10:44am Reply

  • Jaclyn: Anonymous – I guess I should have been more clear about that lightened up =). They aren’t light or low fat, they are just lighter than your average chocolate cupcakes due to the applesauce in place of half of the butter. How I wish they were truly “light” so I could eat them more often though. July 21, 2012 at 9:14pm Reply

  • Anonymous: How can these be light? July 17, 2012 at 7:49pm Reply

  • Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen: These are skinny!! I can eat 10 in one sitting! February 18, 2012 at 9:00pm Reply

  • Crunchy Creamy Sweet: They are adorable, Jaclyn! Mmmm, send me a dozen, will ya? :) Have a great weekend! February 17, 2012 at 8:51am Reply

Add your comment:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright 2011-2019 Cooking Classy | Privacy Policy
Design by cre8d