Special equipment: a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip (about 3/8 inch)
For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Beat the butter, granulated sugar and vanilla bean seeds together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time until blended, then beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in half the flour mixture, followed by the milk and then the remaining flour mixture until smooth.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups and bake until the tops are lightly browned and spring back when pressed, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting: Beat the butter and confectioners' sugar together in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes more. Beat in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a piping bag with a plain round tip (about 3/8-inch).
Frost each cupcake evenly and top with a circle of overlapping mandarin segments that touch in the middle and curve in the same direction. Place a raspberry in each center. Combine the jelly with 1 tablespoon water in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave until warm but not hot, about 30 seconds. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the mandarin and raspberries with the jelly.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
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