Pina Colada Cupcakes

It’s always about this time of year that I crave the warm sunshine and beach days again. So, since I can’t force it I just fake it with food instead, then I sit and enjoy these on my couch…with a kiddie pool in the house and all my brightest lamps and my sun glasses and flip flops on.

Only kidding, but it’s about getting to that point. I’m totally ready to be out of hibernation though.

But don’t you just love foods like this that you can enjoy all year round that give off those summer vibes?

Today’s recipe was inspired by one of my favorite “activities.” A beach, a book, a piña colada, and an impossibly blue sky. Pure contentment right there. Though today’s piña colada cupcakes don’t have any alcohol in them, I’m not stopping you from serving them with a beachy alcoholic beverage. No judging here!

I’m all about summer these days in my kitchen. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a little over the cold weather. Winter was sooo last month. Bring on the flips!

And even better when they make it to your list of top five favorite cupcakes (don’t ask my what my other 4 are right now but they are chocolatey, caramely, probably lemony and very good)!

Everyone was swooning over these and for good reason, they taste just like a Pina Colada but in cupcake form!They are one of the moistest cupcakes I’ve ever made and I’ll be dreaming about this coconut buttercream frosting for days!

If you have an hour or two to spare, use it wisely and make these cupcakes. They’re a tropical-tasting medley of pineapple and coconut flavors, all mixed into my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe. One bite will instantly brighten your mood. Since no one stops at just 1 bite of a cupcake, just think what the entire cupcake will do.

Happiness in a cupcake wrapper.

I was inspired to make these cupcakes last week after we finished booking our trip to Mexico. Kevin and I are headed there at the end of this month for Kristen & Seth’s wedding. Riviera Maya to be exact. Have you ever been there? 5 days of sunshine, flip flops, and wedding festivities. I’m so excited for their wedding, pink sunsets, turquoise water, some great food, and of course – the fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. Always umbrellas.

I have always been quite a fan of pina coladas. It’s hard not to be. The coconut and pineapple are just perfect together. And it just makes you feel like you should be on a beach somewhere with beautiful weather, a tan and some great beach music. The perfect summer drink – and even better in cupcake form!

These cupcakes are quite easy to make. To start, the creaming process is used which helps makes the cupcake super light and fluffy. Please, please do not skimp on the creaming. The butter and sugar should be beaten together for 3 to 4 minutes. You’ll notice the color of the mixture lighten and the texture will become light and fluffy. The process adds air to the batter and without it, you’ll end up with a denser cupcake.

Of course I’d recommend a great quality butter, like Challenge Dairy butter, as well. One of the things I love about their butter is that it’s an all-natural butter with no hormones, additives or fillers. They were the first brand to make dairy products without growth hormones. It’s also super fresh and Challenge controls the whole process of making the butter – from milking the cows all the way to packaging. Gotta love that!

INGREDIENTS:
Pina Colada Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. dark rum
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup cream of coconut (**not coconut milk – see note below**)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple (or pineapple from a can, strained, juice reserved)

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar (add to achieve your desired thickness)
  • 1/2 cup cream of coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional Toppings:

  • maraschino cherries
  • pineapple wedges
  • grated coconut

DIRECTIONS:
To Make Pina Colada Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two cupcake pans with 24 liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then add rum and cream of coconut and mix until combined. Add dry ingredients, half at a time, mixing and scraping down bowl between additions. Mix only until flour is just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in bits of pineapple.
  3. Use a large cookie scoop to fill cupcake pans with batter until each is 2/3 full. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove and cool for 20-30 minutes. For extra flavor, while the cupcakes are still hot, you can brush them with rum and/or pineapple juice.
  4. Once the cake has cooled, pipe (or spread) coconut cream cheese frosting onto each cupcake. Then top with a maraschino cherry, pineapple wedge, and/or shredded coconut if desired.

To Make Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Add in powdered sugar, then cream of coconut and vanilla. Chill until firm enough to pipe or spread, about 30 minutes. Mix in extra powdered sugar if needed for thickness.

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