Monday, February 27, 2012

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Even though it has been a really mild winter here in central Illinois (I think we have had snow on the ground for a grand total of a week all season), I am anxious for Summer to get here. So I decided I would pretend that it is here already and make some Pina Colada cupcakes! After all, what better way to chase away the winter chills than to fill up my kitchen with the warm aromas of baked pineapple and toasted coconut mixed in with a little bit of sugary sweetness.

But shhhh....don't tell anyone....I cheat big time in creating these tropical delights. See, it all starts with a box of Betty Crocker yellow cake mix, and actually, I have used the sugar free variety in the past and couldn't tell a difference. What takes it beyond a simple box cake is what is added to it. (Ok, now I am going to distract you from the fact that I start with a box cake by showing you golden brown toasted coconut on pillowy clouds of buttercream frosting.)

Hmmm. Doesn't that look heavenly? Works like a charm every time ;)


  • 1 Betty Crocker (or preferred brand) Yellow cake mix
  • 2 - 3 fresh pineapple slices or 8.25 oz can of crushed pineapple in heavy syrup (for when you live in a small town and don't want to buy an entire pineapple for three slices)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut rum
Make the box cake according to the directions. Once the batter is mixed, add in just over half of the crushed pineapples and the rum. If using fresh pineapple, cut into small cubes before adding. Using a quarter cup, scoop the batter into the cupcake liners and bake. I was slightly generous with my scoops, so I only ended up with 21 cupcakes instead of 24, but if you can show more restraint it should work out perfectly.

Once they come out of the oven and a tester or toothpick comes out clean, they are ready to transfer to a cooling rack. I have found that using rubber tongs work wonderfully. Gently squeeze to grab and get them out, and once you put them down they bounce right back like you never even touched them. The hard part is not eating half of them while you are making the frosting.

  • 1 Stick of butter
  • half a cup of Crisco
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 or so tablespoons of rum
In a mixer, blend together the butter, Crisco, vanilla and salt until creamy. Add in the powdered sugar and rum and beat on medium for ten minutes or until the frosting reaches the consistency you want. I like to beat it until it looks like a fluffy white cloud. Using a pastry bag (or Ziploc freezer bag, the non freezer varieties might explode on you....not speaking from personal experience or anything), and a coupler without any tips attached (or cut off about a quarter inch from the Ziploc bag's corner), pipe on the frosting in dreamy swirls. If you get too carried away, you may not have enough for all 24 cupcakes, so pay attention :)

Toasted Coconut:

Set your oven to 300° and spread out an even layer of coconut on a small cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at 5 minute intervals, stirring the coconut after each interval, until it is evenly toasted to a golden brown. Take your frosted cupcake and gently dip the frosting into the coconut. I have tried sprinkling the coconut on top, but found that it adheres much better if you dip them instead. Keep rotating your cupcake as you dip it until it has an even coating of coconut goodness. At this point, if you used fresh pineapple, cut a small wedge and push it into one side of your frosting. I tried using canned pineapple wedges, but am not overly crazy about the taste. Fresh is really the only way to go for that final touch, and unfortunately for me, if I wanted to add that I would have had to buy a whole pineapple. (Why is that a big deal? Because I don't really like pineapple, and the rest of it would have gone to waste).


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