Recipe: Melissa O’s Piña Colada Cupcakes

Pina Colada CupcakeNothing that comes to mind brings such a happy, almost child-like smile to my face like the cupcake. I love to experiment in the kitchen bringing interesting and (hopefully) memorable flavors to my cupcakes. It always makes me proud when one of my flavors become a big hit amongst my friends and family. The following is no exception.

With the so-called last weekend of Summer here, I thought I would share my recipe for Piña Colada cupcakes. These ultra-simple cupcakes evoke visions of tropical sunsets and sandy beaches. So bake up a batch, kick back and enjoy!

Makes 12 large cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

Cupcakes:
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons coconut extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 packet Bartenders Brand instant piña colada mix
1/4 cup pineapple juice (reserved from pineapple below)
1/4 cup milk
8 oz. can of crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Icing:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
8 oz cream cheese
3 cups confectioner’s sugar (powder sugar)
2 tablespoons milk (optional)
1 packet Bartenders Brand instant piña colada mix
2 teaspoons coconut extract
or 2 teaspoons coconut rum, such as Malibu*
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit (175° Celsius). Line 1 muffin pan or 2 mini cupcake pans with liners.

DIRECTIONS:

Cupcakes:
1.    Mix together sugar and butter.
2.    Beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add coconut extract.
3.    In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and piña colada mix.
4.    Slowly mix in the flour mixture, alternating with pineapple juice and milk, until fully combined.
5.    Fold in crushed pineapple.
6.    Spoon batter into liners, filling 3/4 of the way.
TIP: If you are making mini cupcakes, use a melon baller. It gives you the perfect amount for each cupcake.
7.    Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on rack before icing.

Icing:
1.    Cream together butter and cream cheese.
2.    Slowly mix in confectioner’s sugar and piña colada mix. If mixture becomes too thick, add milk until workable again. Then add coconut extract (or rum) and vanilla extract.

Once cupcakes are cool, add icing. For decoration, I sprinkle some toasted coconut and freeze-dried pineapple on top. I finish it off with a maraschino cherry. If you’re feeling a bit wild, add a drunken maraschino cherry. Simply take a jar of cherries and replace the juice with coconut rum. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Remember: the longer they stay in the rum, the drunker they get!

*I usually choose to use the coconut rum in the icing to give the cupcake a more ‘authentic’ feel. It’s not so much that it’s overpowering, but you will taste it. I tend to leave it out if I am taking the cupcakes to work or someplace were there will be children.

Bon Appétit!
-Melissa O.

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