Dole Whip Cupcakes
Finishing the month strong with a cupcake recipe I am really proud of! I am a Dole Whip super fan so naturally for our daughter's second birthday this past Saturday we had a have a Moana-themed party and Dole Whip birthday cupcakes. Featuring a coconut milk infused cake batter with shredded coconut, pineapple curd, and pineapple cream cheese butter cream frosting everyone at the party gave me compliments. Even Minnie Mouse gave them a try after blowing out her own number two candle!
These cupcakes are made from scratch but pretty easy to make overall. I used a couple unique extracts to enhance the flavors of the cake and frosting but they can easily be swapped or ommitted. Starting with the cake, I modified a traditional vanilla cupcake batter by adding unsweetened coconut milk instead of regular milk. To pump up its flavor profile I added in 1/2 tsp of coconut extract to the coconut milk. This meant I could reduce the vanilla extract to only 1/2 tsp for balance.
To give the cupcakes a punch of pineapple flavor, I filled them with pineapple curd. Lemon curd is a pretty common place one and they are way easier to make than I originally anticipated. After my experience with pastry cream I thought it would be much more challenging. Turns out is is super simple. Combine sugar, fruit juice, eggs, egg yolks, and a thickener on the stove until thickened then stir in butter and voila! The only catch here is to use juice from pineapple concentrate or canned juice as the heating process for these two products denatures the bromelain in pineapple - an enzyme that is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties - which will keep the curd from thickening.
The final step was the butter cream icing. I wanted it to look like Dole Whip and taste like one, too! I decided to go with a cream cheese butter cream after some research for some tang but also creaminess from the cream cheese and stability from the addition of powdered sugar in a traditional stiff buttercream. For the pineapple flavor their are a couple of different routes you can choose. Pineapple juice, pineapple flavored powder like a kool-aid or jello, or extract/oils. I chose the expensive path since I was pretty sure I'd be making these again in the future and went with Lorann Super Strength Pineapple extract. I also was afraid to upset the liquid to powder sugar ratio too much since I was also adding cream cheese to this recipe and the super strength extract helped to preserve the consistency of my icing. To ensure your buttercream always comes out super fluffy and smooth, mix your butter for 2-3 minutes to incorporate lots of air before adding the sugar. In this case I mixed the softed butter and cream cheese together for 2-4 minutes until completely smooth with 1/4 tsp of pineapple extract. Then the powdered sugar was added 1 cup at a time. I adjusted the color of frosting with 6 drops of Winton yellow food gel and another 1/4 tsp of pineapple extract. The flavor was sweet, tart, tangy, and tropical without punching you in the face.
To finish off the cupcakes I added marschino cherries through the toothpicks of drink umbrellas just like an actual Dole Whip Float! For some of the extra cupcakes I cut paper straws in thirds and stuck them in the sides with additional cherries. You could also use toasted coconut, sprinkles, or slices of pineapple to decorate these delicious cupcakes. Give these beauties a try at home and tell me if you agree with my party guests that these are the best tropical destination dessert!
Dole Whip Cupcakes
Yield 24 cupcakes
- 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup of sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 cup of sweetened shredded coconut
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup canned pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or 1 tsp xantham gum
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Pineapple Cream Cheese Butter Cream Icing
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp super strength pineapple extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 6 drops yellow Wilton food gel
- For Pineapple Curd: Add the eggs, egg yolks, pineapple juice, sugar, and cornstarch/xantham gum in a large bowl. Whisk together until well combined and thickening agent is fully dissolved.
- Pour into a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened; about 6-8 minutes until the curd coats the back of the spoon and is about the thickness of pudding.
- When the curd has thickened, immediately remove it from the heat and stir in the butter.
- Run the curd through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any bits of scrambled egg and transfer to a small bowl.
- Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.
- For Coconut Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on low speed. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy again, another 3 minutes, scraping down the sides halfway through to ensure even mixing.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each. Be sure to scrape down the sides after each egg to ensure even mixing.
- Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl.
- Stir together 1 cup of a well shaken can of coconut milk and a 1/2 tsp of coconut extract and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in a separate bowl.
- Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter sugar mixture and mix, then add 1/2 of the coconut milk mixture.
- Continue alternating with the wet and dry mixtures, ending with the dry and mix until evenly incorporated. Fold in the sweetened shredded coconut.
- Place cupcake liner papers into muffin tins. Scoop the batter into the cupcake papers about one half to three-quarters of the way full.
Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pan after the first 15 minutes to ensure even baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- For Pineapple Icing: In clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip butter and cream cheese for 2 min on low to medium speed until fluffy and lump-free, scrape down bowl edges of the bowl. Mix in pineapple extract for another 2 min on low speed.
- Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and mix on low speed until each cup is incorporated scraping down sides of the bowl between additions.
- Add yellow food coloring 3-6 drops and mix until consistent. Taste and adjust flavor/consistency with more food coloring, pineapple extract, or powdered sugar as needed.
- Use a cupcake corer or spoon to hallow out middle of cupcakes, fill with a tsp of pineapple curd, and top with some of the removed cupcake.
- Using a 1 M star tip on a piping bag, load with icing. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Decorate with cherries, drink umbrellas, paper straws, coconut, or sprinkles. Serve and enjoy!