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For me, the month of May is all about mangoes. Growing up in India, the month of May is the peak of mango season; my mind is flooded with memories of “aamras and puri” (mango pulp and fried mini roti), mango milkshakes, “amrakhand” (the traditional shrikhand, a thick, sweetened yogurt, with a mango twist) and countless mango-based desserts and cakes that my mom made for our birthdays (my sister and I are both May-born).
So for the month of May as part of my cupcake project, the fruit of the month just had to be Mango. It didn’t matter what else is in season in California at the moment, it had to be mango! I’m always looking for delicious vegan recipes for my mom to bake in India with the ingredients easily available in India, so I decided to make these mango cupcakes vegan (and while I was at it, whole grain, with the use of whole wheat pastry flour)!
These cupcakes are light and moist with a great mango and cardamom flavor, and the mango frosting (made vegan with the use of Country Crock plant butter instead of regular dairy butter) is like cardamom-scented ball of fluff!
The cupcake recipe is very simple – combine the dry ingredients in 1 bowl, combine the wet ingredients in another, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, pour and bake! It’s important not to overmix the batter to make sure that the cupcakes are light and not chewy or dense!
One of the key ingredients here is the mango puree. You can make sure puree yourself with really sweet, not-fibrous mangoes, but the best way to go (unless you have access to really great, high quality mangoes in peak mango season aka you are in India in May) is the mango puree available in Indian grocery stores! I usually go with Desai Bandhu or Deep, but many different brands are available. The plain mango puree works just fine here, but you can also try the “Kesar Mango”, which is infused with saffron.
The cupcakes are really great on their own sans frosting; in fact, I’m considering making these into a nice breakfast-y muffin by incorporating some chopped almonds or pistachios, and swapping part of the flour with a nut flour. Maybe a quick streusel on top! Stay tuned for my experiments, as I have the better part of a mango puree can to get through!
Should you decide to make the frosting, start by cooking some mango puree with cardamom and saffron in a small heavy-bottomed sauce pan, until it is reduced to half its original volume. This will concentrate the mango flavor, reduce its water content, and when added to the frosting, will not thin it out as much. After that beat the butter (I used Country Crock plant based butter) with vanilla extra until light and fluffy, then beat in the reduced mango puree, and then beat in the [sifted] confectioners sugar in 3-4 additions until well incorporated. Beat till the mixture is of the desired consistency – if it seems too dry, add some more mango puree or non-dairy milk, a teaspoon at a time. If it seems too wet or loose, add some confectioners sugar, few tablespoons at a time, being careful to stop *as soon as* the frosting reaches the desired consistency (as it will make the frosting very, very sweet).Chill the frosting for 15-20 minutes so it is easier to pipe.
Once the cupcakes have baked and cooled, frost them as desired! I did simple rosettes with the Wilton 1M tip.
Vegan Whole Grain Mango Cupcakes with Vegan Mango Frosting
Adapted from Holy Cow Vegan
Makes 24 frosted cupcakes (if moderately frosted) (please 1.5x or 2x the frosting recipe for more generously frosted cupcakes)
For the cupcakes
3 cups (375 grams) whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose flour or any combination thereof
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons finely ground cardamom powder
3 cups mango puree (preferably canned mango puree such as Deep or Desai Bandhu, available in Indian grocery stores)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup (190 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Frosting
1/2 cup mango puree (preferably canned mango puree such as Deep or Desai Bandhu, available in Indian grocery stores)
1/2 teaspoon finely ground cardamom powder
Few saffron filaments
16 tbsp or 2 sticks plant based butter, at room temperature (such as Earth Balance or Country Crock plant based butters)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) confectioners sugar, sifted to remove lumps
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake liners (24 total) and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cardamom, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the the mango puree, oil, sugar and vanilla extract until well combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk lightly until somewhat combined. Fold the rest of the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until no white streaks remain. Do not overmix.
Divide the batter equally (about 1/3 cup each) into the 2 muffin tins.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out completely dry. Let the cupcakes cool in the tins on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, and then remove (with muffin liners still on) from the tin to cool completely on the cooling rack.
While the cupcakes are baking, combine the mango puree, cardamom and saffron in a small, heavy bottom sauce pan and cook over medium heat while stirring often. Cook until puree is reduced to half the original volume. Transfer to a shallow plate or bowl to cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and vanilla extract together using electric beaters (or the whisk attachment of a stand mixer) until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Beat in the cooled, concentrated mango puree until combined.
Add the confectioners to the creamed mixture in 3 additions, beating thoroughly until incorporated. After all the sugar has been added, if the mixture seems too dry, add 1-2 teaspoons of non-dairy milk or mango puree to adjust the consistency.
The frosting should be smooth and free flowing, yet stiff enough to pipe or slather!
Frosting can be refrigerated for 1-2 days in an airtight container. Bring it to room temperature by leaving it out on the counter for few hours (do not microwave). For best results, keep frosting on the cooler side (of room temperature) for the best decorating experience.
Once cupcakes have completely cooled, frost them with the prepared frosting as desired. Pictured here are swirls of Wilton 1M.