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If You Like Pina Colada…

…or even if you don’t, most of you will no doubt have been ‘caught in the rain’ that is blanketing the east coast of Australia. Thankfully, last week there was a brief reprieve that allowed a group of us to enjoy a picnic in New Farm Park. We were celebrating Oscar’s 7th birthday which gave me the perfect opportunity to try out a recipe that I had spied on Gina’s Skinny Recipes. I thoroughly recommend her website – every recipe is delicious, low in fat and sugar, has a nutrition breakdown and is pointed in both old and new Weight Watcher’s points.  What more could you ask for?

The recipe in question is Pina Colada Cupcakes. This is a simple recipe for busy mums, lazy cooks or kids. These cakes are not golden domed mountains but more a flat patty cake. The cakes do not rise a great deal as there are no eggs nor do they brown as there is no oil or butter. Still, they are the perfect vehicle for the topping and are great for afternoon tea of party treat. Most of the sweetness comes from the fruit and it’s juice. You can find the original recipe here but I have adapted the recipe for Australian ingredients, appetites and tastes.

Pina Colada Cupcakes 2

Pina Colada Cupcakes 

Ingredients – Cakes
  • 1 x 400 – 450g box butter cake mix (Green’s do 440g but other brands are fine)
  • 1 x 400 – 450g tin crushed, unsweetened pineapple in juice (Golden Circle do 440g too)
Pina Colada Cupcakes 3

Method – Cakes

  1. Remove 2 x tbsp pineapple & 1 tsp juice from tin and set aside
  2. Place remaining pineapple with butter cake mix in bowl. Mix with wooden spoon until well combined.
  3. Line muffin or patty cake tins with cupcake papers (approx 18) and fill with cake mix.
  4. Bake according to instructions on the cake box but add an additional 10 minutes to the cupcake instructions. This will be approx 25 mins
  5. Cakes are cooked when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. They will be cooked but slightly sticky on the surface. Remember, the cakes will not rise much, nor will they turn golden.
  6. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes in tins and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely 

Ingredients – Topping (Frosting)

  • 200g low fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup desiccated or shredded coconut
  • 2 x tbsp reserved pineapple + 1 tsp juice from original tin
  • 3 x tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 x tspn coconut essence (optional)

Method – Topping

  1. Whilst cakes are cooking, make the topping
  2. Bring cream cheese to room temperature to make it easy to work with.
  3. Combine cream cheese, coconut, reserved pineapple and juice, sifted icing sugar and essence (if using) in a bowl. Mix well
  4. Taste the topping – it should be sweet but not overly so. You should be able to taste the tang of the cream cheese. Add an additional tablespoon of icing sugar if you need to make it sweeter.


  • These cakes are best iced just before serving.
  • You can make beautiful smooth mounds, pipe on rosettes or just swipe a splodge on with a palette knife – the preferred technique for lazy cooks


  • This recipe is fairly forgiving so if you can’t get the suggested brands, just try to get ingredients that fall within the suggested weight limits. If the pineapple tin is a little bigger, just add the excess to the topping.  If the cake mix is larger, you may need to add some extra pineapple.  I stress may as it depends how wide the variance is.
  • I’ve said it twice but it bears repeating. Don’t Panic! – these cakes will not rise a great deal, nor brown.  They are small patty cakes that will be moist to the touch (but should not be wet and undercooked)
  • The original recipe for the topping is significantly sweeter with sweetened coconut (unobtainable in Australia) as well a sugar.  This would be very sweet indeed and I suspect far too sweet for Australian palates. The icing sugar and small amount of pineapple juice should be sufficient for most.
  • The coconut essence is not essential, I just happened to have it. If you would like to boost the coconut flavour, you could also try a tablespoon of coconut milk powder that you can get in the long life milk section, often used in Thai cooking.
  • You will also probably have more topping than you need, even with a generous hand. Freeze the rest for use on other cakes and pancakes or eat directly from the fridge ala’ Nigella.
Pina Colada Cupcakes 1

Now that I have made these, I wonder about other fruit and cake mix combos. How would cherries and a chocolate mix go?  I suspect that fruit in juice is better than fruit in syrup as the cakes may become too sticky and not cook properly.  These are amazingly simple and a great store cupboard standby

2 comments… add one
  • Shannan February 6, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Tried these and they were awesome. I did double the icing suger in the icing due to my sweet tooth! Thanks for the recommendation.

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! February 7, 2012, 9:51 pm

      So glad you made them and they are just so easy aren't they?! I've had some great feedback this week with – 2 people telling me they've tried recipes from my blog!

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