These cupcakes have all the flavors of my favorite tropical drink…moist coconut cake with a sweet pineapple filling and topped with a creamy coconut cream cheese frosting and of course a cherry to top it all off! What’s not to love?!
You can use your favorite yellow or white cake recipe to make these cupcakes just substitute the milk for coconut milk and coconut extract for the vanilla. You could even use a box mix! No judgments here. Betty, Duncan, and I go way back! I’m no stranger to the ease and convenience of a box cake mix. Just follow the instructions on the box and use the same substitutions for the milk. I would still add a teaspoon of coconut extract for extra flavor.
The real game changer, and the thing that take these cupcakes to the next level, are the pineapple filling and the coconut frosting. The filling couldn’t be any easier to make, just be sure to let it cool completely before you fill the cupcakes. And the frosting is so delicious! I think a cream cheese frosting is one of my favorite kinds because it isn’t too sweet. And I like to add a handful of shredded coconut right into the frosting for extra coconut taste!
Toasting the coconut for the top adds a extra layer of flavor and also makes the cupcakes look pretty! Just be sure to keep a eye on the coconut when you are toasting it, it can burn quickly!
I use a extra large piping tip to make the hole in the center of each cupcake. You could use a smaller tip but if I’m going to have filling in my cupcake then I want filling! Disposable piping bags are a great way to fill the cupcakes.
I also used a small cookie scoop for the frosting, the shredded coconut makes the frosting lumpy and it won’t pipe well if you try to use a bag and a piping tip.
So if you are longing for the feeling of the tropics but a beach vacation isn’t in your near future whip up a batch of these pina colada cupcakes. The tastes will transport you to summer and sunshine!
Pina Colada Cupcakes Recipe
For the Cake
Your favorite yellow/white cake recipe or box mix
Coconut milk (sub for milk in recipe/mix)
1 tsp coconut extract
For the Filling
1 20oz. Can crushed pineapple
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 C sugar
For the Frosting
1 stick softened butter
8 oz. softened cream cheese
4-5 C powdered sugar
2-4 tbsp remaining coconut milk
1 tsp coconut extract
1 C shredded coconut
For the Topping
1 C toasted shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Make cupcakes according to your recipe or follow instructions for box mix, substituting coconut milk for the milk and coconut extract for the vanilla. Let cool.
While cupcakes are baking prepare filling.
Strain the can of crushed pineapple using a fine mesh sieve, saving the juice.
In a small saucepan add the pineapple juice, sugar, and cornstarch.
Whisk until all lumps are gone and then add the crushed pineapple.
Cook over medium heat while stirring frequently until mixture becomes thick and glossy.
Pour mixture into a small bowl and let cool.
While pineapple filling is cooling prepare the frosting.
In the bowl of a stand mixture add the softened butter and cream cheese.
Beat until smooth and add the coconut extract and 2 tsp of coconut milk. Beat until incorporated.
Add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add remaining powered sugar and mix again until smooth.
Add remaining coconut milk until the frosting is the consistency you desire. Beat on high speed for 3-5 minutes until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
Mix in the shredded coconut.
Toast the coconut on a baking sheet in oven at 350 degrees. Check frequently and stir. Should only take 10 minutes to turn golden brown but check often, coconut can burn very fast!
For Assembly of the Cupcakes
Hollow out the center of each cupcake using the wide end of a piping tip.
Fill each cupcake with pineapple filling.
Top with a scoop of coconut frosting.
Sprinkle on the toasted coconut and add the cherry.