Mandarin Orange Cupcakes

This month marks my book club’s FOURTH anniversary! To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m making Mandarin Orange Cupcakes for this month’s meeting. Mandarin Orange Cupcakes-fisheyesandmagpies

In the last four years we have read and discussed 48 books. I love this group of ladies with all my heart, and book club night is always the highlight of my month. I’m not very sentimental, so I don’t often tell them how much they mean to me, but I try to make our meetings fun, and always bring them something scratched baked to nibble on at our meetings. (Fun fact: I made a chocolate pie for our discussion on The Help. It was our very first meeting. I like to think I set the tone for our book club with that first treat…Ha!)

Since it’s our anniversary, I wanted to make something special to commemorate it. I tend to bring bundt cakes and brownies, which, while delicious, don’t take as much time to put together.  But, this time I thought, “don’t take the easy way out, Christina! Make something that’s going to take up most of your afternoon, and then time it so it runs into dinnertime, causing you overcook your meatloaf.” So, Mandarin Orange Cupcakes it was!

I adapted this recipe from a vanilla cupcake recipe I found on, which is accredited to Amy Sedaris. (I love her, by the way.)  Then I made a simple buttercream and added mandarin orange juice. (For the full, printable recipe, scroll to the bottom.)

Mandarin Orange Cake Halos

To make these Mandarin Orange Cupcakes, you’re going to start by pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees. Next, you’re going to mix 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 2-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder in a medium size bowl. To the dry ingredients, you are going to add the zest from two mandarin oranges. I just use a microplane and zest right into the bowl.

Zesting for Mandarin Orange Cupcakes

Next you are going to need to juice your mandarins (I used three) and measure out 1/4 cup of juice. In another measuring cup, measure out 1 cup of milk.

Juicing Mandarins for Orange Cupcakes

Mandarin Orange Cupcakes

Set your dry ingredients and milk aside.

In a stand mixer (or a large bowl with hand mixer) cream a stick and a half of butter with 1-3/4 cup of sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla and orange juice.

In alternating batches, add flour and milk, starting and ending with the flour. Scoop batter into two paper-lined 12 cup cupcake pans, and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Mandarin Orange Cupcake batter Batter Close up--Mandarin Orange Cupcakes

Let cool completely (about 45 minutes) before frosting.

Baked Cupcakes

To make the frosting, beat one cup (two sticks) of softened butter until creamy. On a low speed, add three cups of powdered sugar, a little at a time, until completely incorporated. Add a teaspoon of vanilla, the juice of one mandarin orange and mix well. Depending on the constancy of the frosting, you’ll want to add either more powdered sugar, or a few tablespoons of milk. You’ll want a smooth, slightly stiff frosting that holds together but is not to stiff to push through a piping tip.

To frost the cupcakes (if I’m trying to be fancy for my friends), I pipe the frosting instead of spreading. This time, I used a Wilton 1M Swirl decorating tip and just did a simple flat swirl that, I think, ended up looking like roses.


Well, there you have it! Mandarin Orange Cupcakes to celebrate my favorite group of ladies! If you try out this recipe, let me know how it goes!

Mandarin Orange Cupcake with candle

Mandarin Orange Cupcakes

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


For cake batter:

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Zest from 2 mandarin oranges
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup mandarin juice (juice from about three oranges)

For Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • Juice of 1 mandarin orange
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons of half and half or milk, if needed
For Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, orange zest, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and orange juice.
  4. Add flour and milk to the batter in batches, starting and ending with flour. Stir until batter is smooth and satiny.
  5. Fill paper-lined muffin tins with batter. Bake at 375° for 18- 20 minutes.
  6. Allow cupcakes to cool about 45 minutes and frost.

For Frosting:

  1. Beat butter until smooth.  Using the lowest speed on your mixer, add in 3 cups of powdered sugar slowly, until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla, and orange juice. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add milk 1 tablespoons at a time.



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