Have your piña colada and eat it too! These extra moist pineapple coconut cupcakes will make everyday seem like a trip to the beach.
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!
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.
Today’s cupcakes are an upgraded version of my favorite cupcake recipe. Still keeping that brilliant vanilla flavor, I amped things up a bit and added the flavors of sweet pineapple and coconut. Making them is about as easy as a walk on the beach.
I used nearly all brown sugar in these cupcakes. Brown sugar + pineapple is exactly what I love about my Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, so the swap from white to brown sugar here was a no brainer. You’ll love how much flavor the brown sugar brings.
A couple things you’ll need that you may not already have: 100% pineapple juice and coconut milk. I use full-fat canned coconut milk in this recipe and highly suggest you do the same. This coconut milk (pictured above) is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut. And it has a high oil content. It makes the cupcakes SO moist. The moistest cupcakes I’ve ever made.
*Coconut milk and coconut cream are not the same items. Coconut milk is 1 part water simmered down with 1 part coconut pulp. Coconut cream is 1 part water and 4 parts coconut pulp. Coconut cream is much thicker – I’ve never attempted this recipe with coconut cream. Stick to coconut milk. More information about coconut milk can be found in my recipe notes at the bottom.
The frosting I use for these piña colada cupcakes starts with my ordinary vanilla frosting recipe. The same vanilla frosting I use to top my cakes, cupcakes, and even cookies. If you’re looking for a go-to vanilla frosting, this recipe is it.
To amp up the flavor, I add a touch of coconut extract. Coconut extract can be found in the baking aisle in your grocery store with the vanilla extract and spices. There’s no way around the coconut extract unless you want to compromise the coconut taste or texture of the frosting. If you can’t find coconut extract, simply use a little extra vanilla.
This coconut frosting is ultra thick and creamy, perfect for piping and slathering on top of the pineapple coconut cupcakes. So rich, velvety, and buttery.
May I suggest topping a spoonful of this creamy coconut frosting with mini chocolate chips? Or slather it on my favorite homemade chocolate cupcakes. Go ahead, indulge.
These cupcakes are certainly sweet, just like typical piña colada cocktails. I always like to add a pinch of salt to my frosting to offset some of the sweetness. Works like a charm. If you want a lighter frosting, try a simple whipped cream flavored with a drop of coconut extract. Or here’s a tasty strawberry whipped cream recipe if you’re interested as well.
(Add a splash of rum if you’re feeling jazzy.)
Since there’s no alcohol in these piña coladas, they’re the perfect tropical treat to share with little bakers. They can help decorating the frosting with coconut – oh gosh, please do this over the sink. I ended up with coconut pieces all over my kitchen floor and Jude jumped at the opportunity to help clean. He didn’t get to any in time, don’t worry.
(Blue straws used as decoration are from Sweets and Treats Boutique.)
Super-moist pineapple coconut cupcakes topped with creamy smooth coconut frosting. Decorate each cupcake with a sprinkle of coconut (toasted or not), a slice of pineapple, and a cherry on top. Have your piña colada and eat it too!
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes, plus cooling
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
Make the cupcakes: In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk in egg, pineapple juice, coconut milk, and vanilla extract until combined.
Slowly mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no lumps remain. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat the softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Turn mixer off and add confectioners' sugar, cream, vanilla, and coconut extracts. Mix on low for 1 minute then increase to high speed and beat for 3-4 full minutes. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (I usually add 1/4 teaspoon). Frost cooled cupcakes. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake. I used a Wilton #12 piping tip. Decorate cupcakes with coconut, pineapple slices, and/or a cherry.
Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days and in the refrigerator up to 4.
*Use 100% pineapple juice (not syrup). You can freeze leftover pineapple juice and thaw overnight in the refrigerator to make another batch!
*Note on coconut milk: I used 1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk. I suggest using full-fat if you can for the moistest, richest taste and texture. The brand I used is pictured above in this post and was purchased at my regular grocery store in the international foods aisle. Do not use coconut cream or cream of coconut. You can always freeze leftover coconut milk and thaw overnight in the refrigerator to make another batch.
*Feel free to use coconut milk in the frosting instead of the heavy cream/half-and-half. I do not suggest using milk because you will lose a lot of its creamy texture.
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Try my Pineapple Upside Down Cake next!
See more cupcake ideas!