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Looking for a zesty twist on classic cupcakes? You’ve come to the right place! My Mandarin Cupcake recipe combines the bright, citrusy flavour of fresh mandarins with a light and fluffy cupcake base, making it a perfect treat for any occasion. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a beginner, this easy-to-follow recipe will guide you through creating these delicious, homemade Mandarin Cupcakes. Get ready to impress your friends and family with a dessert that bursts with refreshing mandarin flavor in every bite. Let’s dive into the kitchen and start baking these delightful cupcakes!

But first, let me just say a quick ‘Hello Lovelies’. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I am quite excited about this new recipe. I made mandarin cupcakes years ago and they were delicious. I have used both fresh and canned mandarins in my recipes. The verdict? Both work well. If I had to choose, I would use fresh mandarins for the cupcake batter and the cute tinned ones to decorate, which is what I have done for this recipe.

The wow factor of these cupcakes is the generous amount of mandarin zest used in the cupcake batter. Rubbing it into the sugar makes it fragrant, adding a lovely orange tinge to the cupcakes. The fresh mandarin pieces give little bursts of deliciousness, complementing the soft, fluffy cupcake.

This weekend most of our family are getting together in a little coastal town to celebrate one of our daughter’s 21st birthdays, and that of her cousin, who both happen to be born on the same day, half an hour apart, absolutely by chance! As my folks are getting older, we are realising anew just how important times like this are and hope to make it a yearly event.

Apart from family time, I am also looking forward to setting up our retro caravan Sonny. Not being much of a camper, I adore having my own little homely space to take anywhere. He is a cool 70’s van with all the retro detail delightfully incorporated by yours truly. I will take some photos soon and show you just how fabulous he is. I also have a little adventure coming up that you will most definity want to tag along for!

That’s a wrap for now. Take a look at the recipe and if you make these cuppies let me know. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go and wrap a vinty crochet blanket around the spare wheel on the back of our Sonny van! Groovy baby!

Until next week,

Mandarin Cupcakes

Fresh and zesty citrus cupcakes made with juicy mandarin pieces topped with smooth vanilla bean frosting.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 18 cupcakes


  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons mandarin zest You will need approx 2 - 3 fresh mandarins. Try to use seedless ones with loose skin.
  • 1 cup fresh mandarin pieces, chopped. Remove pithe. You may substitute fresh mandarin with tinned mandarin, drained.
  • 2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar

Vanilla Swiss meringue Buttercream

  • 6 egg whites, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 300 g butter chopped Make sure you use real butter, not margarine. Salted or unsalted is fine, whatever you prefer.
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • 2 tablespoons icing whitener *Optional. This will give your icing a nice white colour base to add colour gel if you wish.



  • Preheat oven to 170℃
  • Line two muffin trays with 18 cupcake liners

Wet mix

  • In a medium bowl add eggs, oil, sour cream, vanilla and water. Using a hand whisk, mix together until well combined. Set aside.

Dry mix

  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, bicarb and baking powders.
  • Place sifter over bowl of flour and add castor sugar, without sifting it into dry mix. Let the sugar stay on top of the sifter.
  • Roughly zest the mandarins into the sugar. Get as much zest as you can off each one. Use your hands to rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant and well mixed. (this step is very satisfying and gives your cupcakes a lovely orange colour)
  • Using a wooden spatula, pour the wet mix into the dry mixture. Stir well and then use a hand whisk to get any lumps out. Be careful with the mandarin pieces. Whisk until well combined.
  • Use a large ice cream/cookie scoop to fill cupcake liners with mixture until each is 3/4 full. (Use a large spoon or jug if you don't have a cookie scoop).
  • Bake cupcakes in moderate oven for 18 minutes or until light and fluffy and firm to touch. Cool in tins for five minutes before putting cupcakes on wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Separate egg whites and put them into the bowl of an electric mixer.
  • Add sugar and mix well using a hand whisk.
  • Put an inch of water into a large saucepan and place it on medium heat on the stove. (To make a double boiler)
  • Put the mixer bowl with egg whites and sugar on top of the saucepan. Whisk briefly with a hand whisk. Leave for about ten minutes to until the sugar is dissolved. Feel it between your fingers and if it feels slimy without granules, then it is ready.
  • Remove mixer bowl and attach to an electric mixer with a whisk attachment on high. Beat until stiff peaks form and it looks like meringue.
  • Turn mixer on the lowest speed. You may change to a paddle attachment, or keep using the whisk. Slowly add butter a few cubes at a time. Mixture will deflate and change consistency. It may look soupy, then curdled. This is normal. The mixture will eventually come together into a gorgeous silky smooth frosting. When this happens, add vanilla ( and icing whitener if using) and mix until combined.
  • Frost cupcakes as desired. Decorate with dried orange slices and drained tinned mandarin pieces.


If frosting doesn't come together after about 15 minutes, put the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes. Try mixing it again.

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