I know we just got through Labor Day and that technically marks the final days of summer, but if you’re in Southern California it feels like summer is just getting started with this heatwave of never-ending proportions. Can it just cool down already, please? At the same time though, I’m already seeing Halloween decorations and pumpkin recipes everywhere I turn and I’m like, “Labor Day was literally three days ago, can we get a little breather before we start thinking spooky time?” I’m a fickle individual, what can I say? If you’re in other parts of the country and you’re experiencing the opposite effects of what I just described, and you just want to hang on to those last fleeting moments of the sunny season, then this dessert is for you. It’s like if the classic strawberry shortcake went on a much needed tropical vacation to the Bahamas and decided to get a makeover; one that Rupert Holmes himself would approve of. If you get that really bad, really cheesy reference, then we can still be friends. It’s classic piña colada cocktail meets quintessential strawberry shortcake (minus the strawberry) with pineapple and coconut and rum instead and I don’t think any of us will mind too much. Grown ups deserve to have fun with dessert as well and I think that if we can just hang on to summer a little bit longer before we dive straight into pumpkin spice mania, then we’re doing our small part for society.
Let’s start by making the biscuits for our shortcakes. They’re just like regular sweet biscuits for shortcakes but with a coconut twist. So in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
Add in the cold cubed butter and work into the dry ingredients with either your hands, a pastry blender or a potato masher until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
**Note: You don’t want to over-work the butter or else you’ll warm it up too much and the biscuits won’t rise properly. Try to work as fast as possible. You also want some large chunks of butter throughout.**
Stir in the heavy cream and mix just until the dough comes together to form a scraggly dough. Try not to over mix it at this stage because again, we don’t want to warm up the butter in the dough too much. It’s a hard balance.
Dump the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times just to bring the dough together. Roll it out to 3/4 of an inch thick and then cut out into eight 3-inch round biscuits.
**Note: If you need to you can cut out however many you can get through the one roll and then form together again and reroll. Just know that the second round of biscuits won’t get as high. You don’t want to roll it out more than the second time.**
Brush the biscuits with an egg wash and sprinkle with unsweetened shredded coconut. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F until golden brown and puffed up, about 15 to 20 minutes.
While the biscuits bake, let’s focus on the pineapple filling. This step in marinating the pineapple is similar to macerating the strawberries in a classic strawberry shortcake. In a medium bowl, toss together fresh pineapple chunks, sugar, coconut extract, dark rum, a pinch of salt, fresh lime zest and lime juice.
**Note: You can omit the rum if you’d like and use a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead, but this is a piña colada shortcake after all so its kind of essential.**
You want the pineapple to marinate for at least 30 minutes, covered in the fridge, but you can make it a day in advance if you want to prep ahead of time. Basically, the longer it sits the better flavor it will have.
Another component that is crucial to shortcakes is the whipped cream. You can’t have this dessert without fresh whipped cream. Beat heavy whipping cream on high with a splash of rum, vanilla and cream of coconut until soft and fluffy.
**Note: Cream of coconut is that stuff you can find in the alcohol mixer section of the grocery store. It’s mostly sugar, which is why I don’t add any sugar to the whipped cream. It’s a mandatory ingredient in piña coladas so that’s why I’m adding it here.**
To assemble the shortcakes, split the cooled biscuits in half, add a dollop of the coconut whipped cream to the bottom half of each and then top with those marinaded pineapple pieces and a maraschino cherry. You can’t have a tropical cocktail dessert without a bright sugary cherry.
These are best eaten right away after you’ve assembled them, but if you want to plan things ahead, you can make each component earlier on and keep it separately covered in the fridge (except the biscuits, those can be at room temperature), and then just assemble the shortcakes right before you plan on serving them!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 cups diced fresh pineapple
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup drained maraschino cherries
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons cream of coconut (cocktail mixer)
- 1 teaspoon dark rum
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. You want some large chunks of butter throughout it. Stir in the heavy cream until the dough just comes together. Dump out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times. Roll out to about ¾ of an inch thick and cut into eight 3-inch rounds. Place on the prepared baking sheet and brush with egg and top with the coconut. Bake until lightly golden brown and puffed up, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- In a medium bowl, toss together the diced pineapple, sugar, rum, coconut extract, lime zest, lime juice, and salt until evenly combined. Cover and let chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- To make the whipped cream, beat the heavy cream on high with the cream of coconut, rum and vanilla extract until thick and fluffy, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- To assemble the shortcakes, split the biscuits in half, spoon the coconut whipped cream onto the bottom of each and top with pineapple chunks (with a bit of the marinating liquid) and top with a cherry and replace with the top of the biscuit. Serve immediately. Enjoy!