Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar FrostingI

Let’s talk cupcakes.

Some people think they are overrated. I tend to agree when they cost $6.50 a pop and crumble in your hand like fallen plaster or require chugging a gallon of milk to cancel out the dryness.

And I don’t even drink milk.

But I’m like, cake-impaired or something and can’t bake a whole layered thing to save my life. That kind of stuff requires patience… which we all know I do not have.


Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar FrostingI

And the other crazy thing? I just don’t LOVE cake. I like it – some cake is absolutely fabulous – but it’s rarely my first choice. Unless it’s one of those massive tower-of-love death-by-chocolate so-rich-your-teeth-ache cakes.

Always down with that. Yessiree.

So cupcakes it is. They provide just enough cake for me, myself and I, and just enough cake if I want a second serving too. Or even a third. And a fourth? Don’t mind if I do.

But really?

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar FrostingI

I make cupcakes because I miss being in first grade and bringing in treats for my birthday. I miss the excitement that cupcakes used to bring my seven year old self, and I crave innocence and simplicity. I miss birthday parties at bowling alleys that smell like, well… bowling alleys and skating rinks with “couples skate” that makes 2/3 of the people in attendance feel like utter crap at age 9. Cupcakes bring all that fun back.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar FrostingI

You know what else I miss? That wacko, borderline please-shoot-me “give me that filet o’ fish” McDonald’s commercial that played every Lent while everyone and their mother whined and complained about it. Ummm I loved that commercial. I sang along each time. I still am singing along. My husband bought earmuffs tonight.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar FrostingI

These cupcakes are perfect for that day when you need dessert but have had, frankly… just a little too much chocolate. It doesn’t hit me often, but occasionally I’ve just had TOO MUCH. Chocolate overload. Chocolate OD. Almost literal death by chocolate.

These solve all that. Brown sugar (the healthy kind since it’s BROWN) and peanut butter. Super fluffy cake that is a change up from vanilla and definitely not chocolate. Life’s cure all!

Write that down.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar FrostingI

Brown Sugar Cupcakes

[adapted from brown sugar banana cupcakes]

makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup loosely packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring to mix. Set aside. Line a cupcake tin with liners.

In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and egg until smooth. Add in vanilla extract and milk, again mixing until combined. Slowly pour in melted butter, continuing to whisk. Add in the flour, soda and salt, mixing with a large spoon until batter is smooth.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to liners. Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until tops are puffy and golden, and don’t jiggle when touched. Let cool completely.


Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting

6 ounces cold cream cheese

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup loosely packed brown sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

raw turbinado sugar for topping, if desired

Add cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth, then add peanut butter and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Add in brown and powdered sugars gradually, with the mixture on low speed. Once everything has been added, turn to medium-high speed and mix for 4-5 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides. If you’d like the frosting a bit sturdier, add additional powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing like before. Frost cupcakes!

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar FrostingI

Let’s make this cupcake in a jar of milk a thing. I dunno I was bored.

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168 Responses to “Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting.”

  1. #
    Kellie — March 13, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

    I made these yesterday to share with my family and co-workers, and was very excited because it was my first time making (not from the box) homemade cupcakes!

    A few comments/questions for you… I used natural peanut butter for the frosting because it was all we had, however I found that the frosting got all melty and runny after about 15 minutes so I ended up having to put them in the fridge to keep. Did you encounter this? Did you use the natural PB or the not-so-natural PB? Also, the hubs wasn’t terribly fond of them because they tasted “healthy” to him, which made me giggle since they certainly had all the less-than-healthy ingredients of cupcakes. My interpretation was that the cakes themselves weren’t very sweet, and perhaps that was where he was getting the “healthy” taste from. Does this recipe use less sugar than other cupcake recipes? Or was it specifically related to the brown sugar?

    Thanks so much! I love your blog and thoroughly enjoy trying the recipes you post!


    • Jessica — March 13th, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

      Oooh yeah I definitely would not use natural peanut butter – way too oily. I used Jif Natural, which you know isn’t the same as regular natural! As for the flavor, they might use a little less sugar but they definitely wouldn’t be as sweet as a cupcake with white sugar.


  2. #
    Monique — March 13, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

    I like these. I like these a lot. Brown Sugar enhances everything. I absolutely LOVE dark brown sugar. The molasses just takes it over the top.

    Keep rockin.



  3. #
    Saya at Saya's Soulful — March 14, 2012 @ 6:58 am

    Definitely trying this one! Thanks!


  4. #
    Alyse — March 14, 2012 @ 11:41 am

    Okay, I must admit that when I read Brown Sugar I kept thinking Brown Butter so I turned these into Brown Butter Brown Sugar Cupcakes. Must I say it was worth it. I also used chunky PB because I don’t allow creamy in my house. The extra crunch was great. Everyone loved them!


  5. #
    Carly — March 14, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

    Hi Jessica! Long time reader – just wanted to say I made these today and they were awesome! Just like all the recipes of yours I’ve tried so far :) Thanks so much for all your hard work, so I (and my hubs) can continue to enjoy!


  6. #
    Mandy — March 15, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

    Made these and they were delicious! One question….do you think the same recipe would work using white sugar in place of the brown if I wanted a bit sweeter cake and lighter color?


  7. #
    Sam — March 17, 2012 @ 11:34 am

    I made these yesterday! They came out sooo yummy!


  8. #
    Rachel's Cottage House — March 18, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

    These cupcakes are something different, and the frosting looks especially unique! I will have to try them! By the way, I absolutely adore the photo of the cupcake in the jar of milk – very cool.


  9. #
    Jenny — March 21, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

    My daughter and I sang the Filet-o-fish song in the car last Friday as we passed McD’s where they were advertising their, well, Filet-o-fish sandwich. And I confessed to her and her brother that I really liked that commercial. (It should be noted that the brother did not sing along. HE did not like that commercial after seeing it many times. I told him he watched too much TV. He stopped speaking to me for two miles.) These cupcakes look fab, and I’m going to make them for my birthday this weekend.


  10. #
    Bridgette — March 31, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

    How did you frost these? It looks like you used an ice cream scoop because of the shape but looks like you swirled them? Thanks :)


  11. #
    Sarah — April 5, 2012 @ 2:08 am

    These look like perfection. Mmmmm. The cake recipe is asking for baking *soda*, not *powder*, right? I want to make these, but for some reason I never trust when a recipe uses just baking soda…I’m afraid of that soapy taste that comes from using too much. Thanks!


    • Jessica — April 5th, 2012 @ 7:35 am

      Yep it is soda!


  12. #
    susan — April 11, 2012 @ 9:48 am

    cupcakes and milk? could be the new trend. love your photos and this take on a peanut butter treat!


  13. #
    Laura — April 17, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

    These cupcakes were a hit at my Pampered Chef party over the weekend! They made me feel like a professional baker. Thank you for the recipe!


  14. #
    jaycaroline — May 25, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

    I just made these but mine sank in the middle really bad, has anyone e else had this problem? I used a kitchen aid could I have over mixed them?


  15. #
    Kelly — June 1, 2012 @ 11:42 pm

    i just made these and they rose up at the top and were dry :( I think i might have just overmixed them..?


  16. #
    Emily — June 13, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

    How did you frost these so perfectly? Can you do a post just on how to frost the perfect cupcake? That would be soooooooooo helpful!!!!


  17. #
    Amanda — June 30, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    I made these tonight. I was pressed for time and probably went about it all wrong. I used a kitchen aid mixer and did room temp butter and the sugar, then the egg, then milk and vanilla. I used all the batter in the cupcake pans and I think my cupcake pan might be shallow, as they totally overflowed. HOWEVER, they still taste GREAT.

    I don’t like peanut butter, sooo I made up a vanilla/espresso buttercream. I think it goes great together. yum diddy dum.


  18. #
    Irmak — July 1, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

    Do you have a convention oven or a convection oven? I’m asking so I can adjust my baking times =)


  19. #
    Lauren — July 14, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

    All I can say is WOW! and I love these! You must try these, they are quite possibly one of the best cupcakes I have eaten in my life. I did not make the peanut butter frosting, but I am sure it would be totally amazing with them. I substituted a simple buttercream frosting instead. The cupcakes were fluffy and moist and the brown sugar was such a good idea! I am so making these again; thank you Jessica!


  20. #
    Sarah — August 7, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

    And now I know what to serve with my chocolate peanut butter frosting that I just made the other day because I was bored. :) Thank you


  21. #
    Rennie — August 11, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

    I tried this recipe last weekend for my brother’s 20th birthday and they were a huge hit! I never made homemade cupcakes before and these were easy peesy and turned out terrifically. I followed the recipe to the “T” and they were wonderful.

    Here is a pic posted on my blog if you want to check it my batch out

    Thanks for the recipe!


  22. #
    Sarah Nicole — December 3, 2012 @ 1:03 am

    I can’t even begin to explain how delicious these cupcakes were. When I decided to take a swing at my idea for Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie inspired cupcakes I knew I wanted a brown sugar cupcake and despite my countless cake/cupcake cookbooks and recipes, I couldn’t find one that I liked. But Lord have mercy, I am beyond pleased that I came across this one. It was moist, fluffy, and oh so delicious. It was made all the better that I cored my cupcakes to put in a filling because that meant I got to eat the centers of every one I made.

    The only alterations I made where mixing up the called for amount of brown sugar. I split it equally between light and brown sugar because I love the subtle differences of the two types together. I also used whole milk as my milk of choice, because…well…baking calls for whole milk. Just like it calls for real butter.

    I can’t wait to find an excuse to make this recipe again. I might even triple it for a new cake creation I have in mind… Salted Caramel Apple Brown Sugar Cake anyone?


  23. #
    Shelley — December 25, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

    I made these as muffins with no icing and they were delicious.


  24. #
    Susan — January 27, 2013 @ 2:13 am

    So, here’s the thing… I love to cook for my family– my 2 sons, 18 and 20, and when my daughter,22, is home from college, her too. Even though I work a full time job, a part time job, AND go to school part time,still, I cook almost every day. Also, my sons always have their friends over. One thing I don’t do is bake… oh heck no. Except this week, I baked a from scratch cake for my son’s 18th bday. Then tonight, I ran across your Brown Sugar Cupcakes. So, yes at 1230am I cooked I mean, BAKED these cupcakes… and as of 1:45am, cupcakes are almost gone! THANK YOU for a quick, simple, cupcake recipe! Not too sweet, not chocolate… WE LOVE THEM!


  25. #
    C00p C4K3$ — March 29, 2013 @ 9:57 am



  26. #
    Chelsea — July 25, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

    Just made these and.. OH MY GOD. So decadent and moist and just…heavenly.

    Thank you, Cupcake Queen for yet another recipe I adore.


  27. #
    Savannah — August 23, 2013 @ 9:30 am

    Hey Jessica,

    I’ve made these cupcakes a few times now and they’re definitely an office favorite. I made them again this week and I forgot to buy cream cheese for the frosting. Instead I used some Fage 0% greek yogurt I had in the fridge. And it came out JUST as delicious, but a little runnier.

    Thanks again!


  28. #
    Lauren — November 27, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    I made these cupcakes with gluten-free all-purpose flour instead of the normal kind, as my family is GF… they were light and pillowy and perfect, even with the substitution! Brilliant!


  29. #
    avery — July 29, 2014 @ 7:30 pm

    they are so dleiclas. i am only 10 and made them with out help that is how easy it is



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