Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Mondays suck, am I right? Well, let’s make this Monday better with cupcakes! This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite treats, dark chocolate bars with little grains of sea salt in them. Because dark chocolate is not terribly sweet, the sea salt adds a warm tang to the chocolate, emphasizing the subtle sweetness for a tasty dessert.

I had originally written this recipe so that I could submit it to Made Just Right, Earth Balance’s nearly month-long recipe contest; but as I was uploading a photo for the recipe, the site redirected me and the recipe and full instructions were lost. URGH! So, I’m going to re-type them because I love this recipe and I want my lovely reader’s to have a chance to make them!



  • 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 Cup Applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp. White Vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Cups Ice Cold Water
  • 2 tsp. Coarse Sea Salt



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and get two cupcake sheets (2 dozen cupcakes) ready with liners. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. In a smaller bowl, stir together the applesauce, white vinegar, vanilla extract and water.
  2. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir together until combined, then fold the grains of coarse sea salt into the batter so that it does not dissolve. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full, place in the oven and bake for 19-22 minutes or until a toothpick draws clean.
  3. After the cupcakes are done baking, place them in the refrigerator to cool and move on to making the frosting.
  4. Whip the Earth Balance with a mixer on high-speed, and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Split the vanilla beans with a sharp knife and scrape out the paste, add it into the frosting mixture along with the additional vanilla extract and soy milk and mix together.
  5. Add more powdered sugar if you’d like a stiffer frosting, and use 1.5-2 tbsp. of it per cupcake. Optional: for added cuteness, top with finely chopped chocolate and a couple of grains of sea salt.

For the record, I really need to practice piping frosting because I am pretty terrible at it! Regardless, these cupcakes tasted great and have a unique flavor that is addictive. I hope that everyone has a fabulous week!


21 Comments on “Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

  1. Found these from Tastespotting. They look amazing and your photos are lovely! Merry Christmas. Feel free to pop over and say hi sometime!

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  4. Hi there,

    I’m always looking for recipes to convert to Gluten free. May i ask what the purpose of the applesauce is? (I always have to change the recipes around to make them work GF, so i need to know the function of the applesauce. ) Sadly, where i live i can’t buy the earth balance product, so i have to make do with unhealthy margarine. 🙁

    • The applesauce replaces the oil in this case, providing moisture without the added fat and calories. This makes the cupcakes a little lighter than the typically dense cupcakes that use oil in their recipes. I hope that helps you! 🙂

  5. Beautiful cupcakes 🙂
    What kind of cupcake liners are you using there? I’ve found that any type of cupcake/muffin I bake with applesauce, makes the muffin/cupcake literally stick itself to the paper liner, and is impossible to remove without destroying the entire muffin/cupcake. Do you have any advice?
    Thank yoU! 🙂

  6. Hey Jackie! I tried the recipe for your frosting today and it tasted fabulous, but it was super slick and oily. The icing started to separate and you could see the butter starting to coagulate. Any ideas on how to prevent that? I did add more powdered sugar and it firmed up a bit. I’m thinking maybe just less butter next time?

    I love your blog! I’ve made so many great recipes you’ve posted!

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    • Omg, Salted Caramel on top?!?!? That sounds so insanely good. I will definitely be trying that out, next time! 😀

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