If I’ve given you a slightly unusual fruit cupcake, I probably didn’t give you nutritional macros for it. Why? Because I made the jammy filling myself, and I make those by feel. It’s completely impossible to get exact, unless I thought ahead enough to measure how much sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch I started with and how much I ended with.

Have you seen these cupcakes? They’re guilty of being inexact AF. They’re essentially in “gym buddy jail” – these will only be shared with specific people who I know are okay with not getting that info this one time.  I honestly found writing out this recipe without using phrases like “a handful of …” or  “….until it feels right” to be a bit of a struggle.

Housemade mango filling and housemade strawberry glaze beaten by feel into a mango strawberry buttercream makes for an awful lot of places where nutrition math goes sideways.

There’s nothing exotic about the cake itself – it’s the same vanilla cake recipe I’ve been tinkering with for ten years now. It’s been very vanilla, it’s been caramel, it’s been nutella, it’s been green tea.  This is my favorite solid, reliable base for other flavors. The fun here is all in the mango jam, the strawberry sauce, and combining those into a frosting that doesn’t just taste pink. Oh, and don’t stress over the mochi – I didn’t make those and you don’t have to either.  You can buy them on amazon, or at your favorite fro-yo shop.

Mango Strawberry Mochi Cupcakes

For the mango filling:
3 large mangos
1 meyer lemon
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch

For the strawberry glaze:
1 lb ripe strawberries
1 meyer lemon
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch

For the cupcakes:
3 vanilla beans
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the buttercream:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1/2-3/4 cup mango filling
1/2 cup strawberry glaze

For tasty garnish:
1 package of mini unfilled mochi

Make the mango filling first, because it has to set and cool by the time your cake is ready. Start by peeling and chopping your mangos into small chunks – a mix of 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch pieces. Zest the lemon, and squeeze it’s juice into a strainer.  When your fruit and juice are prepared, move them into a saucepan together, and toss with sugar, vanilla sugar, and cornstarch. Don’t have a strong vanilla sugar? Use regular granulated sugar, and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste.


Bring the mango mixture to a low boil and stir until it thickens – 5-15 minutes. Then remove it from heat and stash it in the refrigerator or on a cool countertop. It should be about as thick as greek yogurt when it’s full cooled.  If not, put it back on the stove and bring it back to a boil for a few minutes.  Be very careful to keep stirring though this, the bottom can burn fast – we’re aiming for some of the sugar to caramelize without leading to any dark spots or burned flavor.

Start the cupcake batter by creaming butter, both sugars, and the contents of 3 vanilla beans.  You can substitute a teaspoon of vanilla paste for each vanilla bean, but not extract.  Too much vanilla extract will create weird aftertastes.  When the butter, sugar, and vanilla are fully combined and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.  Stir in the flour mixture and milk into the batter in alternating batches.

Bake your cupcakes at 375°F – 15 minutes for minis and 23 for full size.

While cupcakes are in the oven, make the glaze.  Toss chopped strawberries, lemon zest and juice, sugars, cornstarch, and about half a cup of water in a bowl.  Blend them until smooth, then cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens and becomes shiny. Place it in the refrigerator to cool.

Once the cupcakes are done and fully cooled, you can stuff them with the mango filling. Work one cupcake at a time. Use a spoon or cupcake corer to remove a section of cake from the top center. Place some mango filling including at least once larger chunk in the hole.  Replace the removed cake on top of the filling. Your filling should be solid and sticky enough that the cake will stick out almost entirely, but neatly sit on top with just a little press.

When the cupcakes are assembled and the strawberry glaze is cool, but not so cool that it can’t be drizzled easily, start the buttercream.  Whip the butter by itself first, then mix in about a cup of powdered sugar.  Once that’s smooth, add about half of the mango filling that was set aside for frosting and whip until mostly smooth – your mixer should beat down the mango chunks gradually.  If you don’t have a mixer, blend the mango filling before you start mixing. Once the mango is mostly integrated, add about half the strawberry glaze. Once that’s done, beat in the vanilla and lemon extracts.  After these are fully combined and smooth, add the remaining sugar and set aside fruit until the frosting is stiff and to taste.  You might not need the cream – it’s there to thin out the frosting if it’s too stiff without changing the flavor too much – use it when you like the flavor and don’t want to make it any fruitier, but you want a smoother, thinner frosting.

Once your frosting is done, you can pipe it around the top of the cupcakes (being mindful of the loose cake in the middle), or have fun sculpting it on with a knife.