(Mostly Piña) Piña Colada Cupcakes

While I was meandering the aisles of the local grocery store here the other day I came across something that got the little gears in my head spinning. The selection of goods in the Virgin islands is pretty limited, so I was quite surprised when I came across pineapple extract. When I did, I was immediately struck with inspiration to make Piña Colada cupcakes!

Personally, I don’t actually like piña coladas, but I do like the flavors. I love piña colada flavored candies and gum, so I knew I’d love a cupcake version! And I was right! I went a little light on the coconut with mine because I’m not partial to coconut, but you can easily add more if you want to. I decided to go with as white of a cake as I could achieve just because I liked the idea of a fluffy little white cupcake full of tropical flavor. The result turned out to be a soft (in all the right ways), light (in color, texture, and taste), and moist, little treat with just the right amount of subtle flavors.

The frosting is my favorite, though. It took me a couple of tries to get it right, but I finally did thanks to a great idea from my husband. I knew I wanted straight up pineapple buttercream-no coconut. Like I said, I’m not a big fan of coconut, but I intended to roll the edges of the frosting in shredded coconut for garnish, and I knew that would add the flavor that coconut lovers would look for. Anyway, I experimented with using fresh pineapple and juice, just the juice, and pineapple extract.

When I used the pineapple and juice together the frosting was entirely too runny. It wouldn’t even hold up as a glaze. Using pineapple juice was good, but didn’t pack a lot of punch in the flavor department. It still had a decent pineapple flavor, but not a very strong one. However, using the extract resulted in a false, candy-like flavor that wasn’t very true to nature. In the end, I decided to combine the juice and the extract to get the most flavor and have it be accurate. But I really wanted bits of pineapple in the frosting. That’s when my genius husband came up with the idea that made the frosting. Why not add some of the dried pineapple I had bought for garnish?!

I love dried pineapple (sometimes called candied pineapple). I knew as soon as I started brainstorming for these that it would be my garnish on top, but I didn’t consider for a second that I could put it in the cupcakes or frosting. By finely chopping several pieces and stirring it in, we had exactly what I was looking for!!

Okay, okay! Enough jabbering…onto the cupcakes…

The dry ingredients in the cupcakes are sugar, cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

 For the wet ingredients, you need eggs, softened unsalted butter (cut into pieces), crushed pineapple and juice, sweetened shredded coconut, and light rum. **If you want more coconut flavor, you can double (or even triple) the coconut.

In a medium bowl, beat the whole egg and egg whites together. Add the crushed pineapple and rum and beat until thoroughly combined and set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix on low. Add the butter one piece at a time and beat until the mixture resembles wet sand. With the mixer still on low, slowly add one cup of the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium low and slowly add the remaining egg mixture in a steady stream. Once all of the egg mixture is added, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixer to medium speed and beat for another 30 seconds.

Fill each cupcake liner with three tablespoons of batter. The batter is relatively runny, so keep your bowl close to your muffin pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The tops should be a light golden brown.

Transfer the cupcakes to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting (sorry for the lack of photo, all of my experimenting exhausted my motivation), you need softened unsalted butter, confectioners’ sugar, pineapple juice, and pineapple extract. Plus, the secret ingredient…

…dried (or candied) pineapple, finely chopped.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and one cup of the sugar together until combined. Add another cup of sugar and beat until combined, then add the pineapple extract and stir well. Add another cup of sugar and beat until combined before adding about half of the pineapple juice. Beat until well mixed and add another cup of sugar. Beat until fluffy, then add the remaining pineapple juice and sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Finally, stir in the chopped pineapple until incorporated. **Depending on the amount of frosting you use, you may need to double this recipe.

Adding the sugar slowly, with the liquid ingredients added in between, keeps the butter from breaking down and the frosting from becoming runny.

To decorate these cupcakes, I swirled a generous portion of frosting on each cupcake, then rolled the edges in sweetened shredded coconut before topping them with a whole piece of dried pineapple. Feel free to toast your coconut, if that’s the flavor you prefer. Toasted coconut looks very pretty as a garnish and adds a little more contrast and color to the overall presentation.

To toast your coconut, heat your oven to 325 degrees (the same temperature the cupcakes are baked at). Spread about two cups of sweetened shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until the coconut is a mix of golden brown and white (about 15 to 20 minutes). You’ll need to stir the coconut around two or three times to toast it all evenly. Cool completely before using.

You can also dress your cupcakes up like little drinks by adding cute straws (cut a regular, non-bendy straw into thirds) and drink umbrellas! And if you want them to be truly authentic, spear a maraschino cherry with your drink umbrella and place in front of the pineapple.

I have to say that these are neck and neck with the watermelon cupcakes from a couple of weeks ago as my new favorite cupcakes! What is happening to the world, people? Neither of my two favorite cupcakes are chocolate! Who knew I liked fruit flavored cupcakes so much?! Not me, that’s for sure! Give these a try…they’re fast and easy, and who knows?! Maybe they’ll be your new favorite too! Enjoy!

Piña Colada Cupcakes with Pineapple Buttercream
Makes 16 to 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

FOR THE CUPCAKES
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 egg, plus 5 egg whites
1 cup crushed pineapple, with juice
1 tablespoon light rum
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
1/4 sweetened shredded coconut

FOR THE FROSTING
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 teaspoon pineapple extract
1/4 cup dried or candied pineapple, finely chopped

FOR THE GARNISH
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (if you want it toasted, directions are above)
16-18 whole dried or candied pineapple chunks

To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcakes liners.

Beat the whole egg and egg whites together in a medium bowl. Add the crushed pineapple and rum and beat until thoroughly combined; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix on low. Add the butter one piece at a time and beat until the mixture resembles wet sand.

With the mixer still on low, slowly add one cup of the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium low and slowly add the remaining egg mixture in a steady stream. Once all of the egg mixture is added, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixer to medium speed and beat for another 30 seconds.

Fill each cupcake liner with 3 tablespoons of batter. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The tops should be a light golden brown.

Transfer the cupcakes to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting: In a large bowl, cream the butter and one cup of the sugar together until combined. Add another cup of sugar and beat until combined, then add the pineapple extract and stir well. Add another cup of sugar and beat until combined before adding about half of the pineapple juice. Beat until well mixed and add another cup of sugar. Beat until fluffy, then add the remaining pineapple juice and sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Finally, stir in the chopped pineapple until incorporated.

Recipe by Darla

 

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Comments

  1. bttrflybabydoll says

    Can you see inside my pantry? Seriously! My mom just gave me a bag of dried pineapple. LOL I have been looking at it ever since trying to figure out what to do with it. I'm not a coconut fan either, but I love pineapple! Now If I can find pineapple extract I'll be all set. :) That I don't have!

  2. Sugarbear says

    Hahaha! I am psychic! Lol!

    I'm pretty sure that McCormick's sells (or used to sell) pineapple extract, but it may not be available everywhere. If you can't find any, you can just try adding an extra tablespoon of pineapple juice. I made it like that and it was quite good, just not super pineapple-y.

  3. Holly says

    i tried this recipe, and it came out a bit dry.i also used coolwhip instead for my frosting with crushed pineapples to make the topping lighter and it paired well!
    next time, i'm going to add a little more butter to get that moisture i want
    thanks for sharing this!

  4. Sugarbear says

    @Holly – thank you for sharing…because I live in such a constant high humidity, some of my recipes may tend to be dryer elsewhere. I try to compensate as best as I can, but it's a tough call.

    In this case, I would recommend adding a little extra sugar before you add more butter. Both sugar and butter add moistness to a cake, while the flour and eggs give it structure. Ideally, the four ingredients should be more or less equal to get a good balance, so adding more butter or sugar can cause the structure of your cake to suffer.

    In the case of these cupcakes, the flour, eggs, and butter are all more or less equal (in ounces), while there is slightly less sugar. I recommend adding an extra 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar.

    I hope this helps! And thanks again!

  5. Julie Mikula says

    I am going to make the icing using pineapple preserves- I think it might just be the right kick to get that pineapply flavor!

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