It’s Friday September 7th and I am patiently awaiting the start of happy hour. The second week of school has come and gone. Two full weeks are done and under my belt. Just fifteen more to go. This is not just any regular ol’ school semester. Sure I get up and do the same things I did all the past semesters before, but this semester is different. What is so different about it you might ask? What makes this semester so special you might be wondering? Well it happens to be my last one. The end of five long years of college is finally arriving. I see it. There off in the distance wrapped up success, drenched in satisfaction, and reeking of ambition. It’s nearing closer and closer, reminding me that as long as I set my mind on something, anything is possible. But before I can put on the black cap and gown and walk across that stage while my mom and sisters look on thinking, “He’s finally joined us.” Before I can celebrate by eating ridiculous amounts of food and cake. Before I can open those graduation cards and think about my future in the real world, I have to finish these last four classes. Waking up each day knowing that this is the home stretch makes it harder to go to school. It makes it harder to attend class. The work load has begun to pile on and my days are beginning to mirror those of a frantic college senior. I’m spending my days cooking and shooting and developing and printing and mounting and writing and gathering and submitting. It seems like a never-ending cycle. A long week moves by so slowly, just inching and inching. There is some relief mid-week, however, when Wednesday comes letting me know the week is almost over. Yet my days do not move fast enough, and I can’t help but wonder why my week moves so slowly and my weekends so swiftly?
I set those worries aside as Friday has come at long last. School is put on the back burner and I get to enjoy the fun things in life, like cooking and shooting and eating and editing and writing and posting. With this glorious day that is Friday comes the need to forget about everything. The need to dust off that blender and cocktail shaker. The need for relaxation. And why shouldn’t I relax? Why shouldn’t we all relax? It’s been a long week. I deserve it. We all do. Between school and work, it seems only necessary to unwind and enjoy our days off. Go ahead, you relax as well. Why don’t you join me? Sure. Kick off those shoes. Make yourselves at home. It’s Friday afternoon now, and I continue to glance at the clock thinking to myself, “If I keep looking at it, time is bound to go by faster, no?” Sadly no, this isn’t the case. Of course as anyone who has experienced Christmas with the same fixation to stare at the clock knows, such a task only makes the time go by slower. The second hand moves at a snail’s pace and all I can hear is the tick tick tick sounds of the seconds passing by. Finally it seems as though my prayers have been answered. Five chimes and a bird coo, coo, cooing let me know the time has finally arrived. Cocktail time. A light shines from above and I begin to hear a few angels singing. No, a choir of angels singing. Perhaps there are no angels. Maybe I’m just delirious and tired from the week’s work. Whatever it might be, I know one thing for certain, it’s five o’clock; the hour of happy has arrived, and millions of people—all across this country and around the world—are joining me in this happy hour. The record player begins to play automatically as if knowing, on it’s own, when to fill the room with it’s glorious music as the scratching sound of the needle hitting the vinyl puts a smile on my face. I waste no time in heading over to the alcohol cabinet and grabbing a few things here and there. My beverage of choice is normally always the same. Without fail. Without hesitation. Whisky, straight up—okay with a splash of ginger ale, I’m no alcoholic—on the rocks with a cherry. But today something is different. Today I do not feel like drinking my usual. Today I feel like being adventurous.
I decide to take a Caribbean adventure. Only a trip to a tropical island can distract me from my school work. I grab a pineapple from the fridge and commence to core, peel and cut it. I toss the fresh pineapple chunks, coconut milk, ice, rum and a few other, here-and-there, ingredients into the blender. The magical passport that is going to transport me to my tropical destination starts up. My concoction blends together as I reach into the cupboard for a tall curvy glass. The adult slushy leaves the blender and enters my glass with a swooshing sound. I adorn the top with a pineapple spear, a few cherries, and a tiny umbrella. I cannot forget about that. It wouldn’t be a completed piña colada without a tiny umbrella. I leave the kitchen and sit on the balcony, Patsy Cline playing in the background. Patsy Cline is always playing in the background whenever relaxation is involved. As I sit there enjoying my colada and listening to Patsy, an idea hits me. This drink is sweet—maybe too sweet for cocktail time—of course I’m not complaining. Alcohol is alcohol. I sip, sip, sip and visions of a piña colada dessert enter my subconscious. Yes, this house needs a piña colada inspired treat.
Here’s what we need.
We’re back to using the electric mixer, so goodbye to the food processor (for now). Don’t get sad. It’ll be back soon.
Grab a mixing bowl and the paddle attachment.
Drop in the softened butter.
Start the engines.
buup buup buup…vroom vrooooom vrrrrooooooom.
I don’t know about your mixer, but mine makes car sounds when I turn it on.
Okay, it really doesn’t. I wish I did though.
Turn on the mixer on low to start whipping and then raise the speed to medium-high. (Or if you’re doing this by hand—
I feel sorry for you—grab a spoon and start mixing).
Add the sugars.
We’re using two sugars. Why? Because two is always better than one.
So drop in the brown sugar.
And the granulated sugar.
You’re done huh? Both sugars are now in with the whipped butter right?
Start the mixer again and cream together.
Meanwhile back at the ranch. Okay so this isn’t really a ranch. It’s a kitchen in a suburban city. It’s an expression.
Meanwhile back at the suburban city. Doesn’t have the same ring to it.
As the butter and sugars cream, combine the dry ingredients.
Here they are.
Okay folks, grab your cameras. You’ll need to capture this moment, because what I’m about to do is unheard of, well for me anyway.
Gasp! Yep, that’s right, I’m sifting the dry ingredients.
Did you ever think this day would come?
Now if you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know how lazy I am to sift my dry ingredients. I normally just dump them all into a bowl and whisk together. Don’t do what I do. Just sift them together, it’s really for the better. You’ll get a lighter and fluffier cake.
So I thought I’d set a good example, today, by sifting the ingredients.
To the flour add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Sift sift sift.
Let’s turn our attention back to the butter and sugars.
They should all be creamed by now.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom, frequently throughout mixing the batter. This will ensure an even texture.
It is now time to add the eggs.
Add them one at a time and mix well after each addition.
After mixing once more. Add the….drum roll please…..ba ba ba brum brum brum (Does that work? That’s an awful drumroll. I shouldn’t quit my day job. You get the idea)…
Yes, add the rum.
It is a piña colada cake batter after all, and piña coladas do have rum in them.
I’m using a dark rum here.
Now I know what you must be thinking. “Jonathan, rum? Really? Do I have to add it?” And if you weren’t thinking that, well now you are. If you’re not keen on baking with alcohol—although it does cook out and you are just left with great flavor—you do not have to add it if you don’t want to. You can just use a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead. Or coconut extract.
I used the rum.
And now for the coconut milk.
The mixture will look slightly curdled.
DO NOT BE ALARMED.
DO NOT BE AFRAID.
DO NOT DUMB THE BATTER AND START ALL OVER THINKING YOU DID SOMETHING WRONG.
It’s supposed to look like that.
Now add the dry ingredients.
Add them in two batches, mixing well after each addition.
Stir the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Make sure not to over-mix at this stage as the cake can become dry.
We don’t want dry cake.
We want moist cake.
And now for the piña in the piña colada cake.
Cut off the top green part.
You really don’t have to cut it. You can just pull it off.
*Tip: When picking a fresh pineapple, you”ll know it’s fresh when the eyes are closer to the bottom are wide and the pineapple is yellow in color. Green pineapples are not ripe. Also give the bottom of the pineapple a whiff. If it smells sweet and pineappley, then it’s ripe.*
Cut off both ends of the pineapple so that it stands up right.
Now you might be looking at this fruit and scratching your head. “How do I peel this fruit?”
Well I’ll show you. It’s easy.
Grab your knife, starting at the top, cut the peel away in one swift downward motion. Turn the pineapple and continue cutting the skin in strips.
Make sure to cut away any brown eyes or sharp brown needles. The pineapple should be clean cut.
Quarter the pineapple.
Now I know what your next question is going to be, “How do I remove the core from the pineapple spears?”
Ahh, thanks for asking.
Cut the core away at an angle.
Once the core is removed from the spears you can give it all a chop.
A fine chop.
You don’t want big chunks of pineapple in the batter.
Or maybe you do. I don’t.
Place the chopped pineapple in a small strainer and remove all the juice, this is to make sure you don’t add all that excess liquid into the cake batter (Reserve the juice for the glaze).
Dump the drained pineapple into the cake batter.
Fold the chopped pineapple into the cake batter.
And I said fold, not mix. Again, we want to make sure to not over-mix the batter.
So fold the fruit in gently. Yes, gently.
Look, we’re folding.
And we’re folding.
And we’re folding.
And we’re folding.
The batter will look like this when finished.
See? Right there, down below. That’s the cake batter.
That’s it. You’re done. Finished. Cake batter is ready.
So these are going to be mini bundt cakes.
Mainly because I love bundt cakes, and I liked the idea of having individual bundt cakes. And also because they are bigger than cupcakes so I don’t have to feel bad about eating like 3 cupcakes when I can just have one bundt cake.
So if you have a mini bundt pan—you should really get one if you don’t they’re kind of awesome—then you should take it out of the drawer and use it here.
But sadly, if you do not own one, do not panic. Calm down. You can still make these. Guess what? You’ll just have Piña Colada cupcakes!! woo!
But like I said, mine are bundt cakes. I actually didn’t have one prior to this post, so I bought it. You can find it pretty much in any cooking supply store.
It is very very important to grease this pan. All the nooks and crannies can cause the batter to stick—if not greased properly—and then cut to you 3 hours later crying on the kitchen flour, pulling out your hair. The pan in one hand as the other hand tries desperately to remove the cakes carefully. Crumbs flying everywhere and cake falling to the floor, ruining your wonderful dessert. Tears streaming down your face because you failed to properly grease the pan.
Let’s not let that happen to you. I’m here to make sure that it does not.
So liberally butter and flour each cavity. Or if you have one of those handy dandy cooking spray things with flour in it, use it here. It’ll make your life easier.
Okay so now that we’ve taken the proper precautions to ensure our wonderful cakes come out easily, let’s fill the pan with our delicious cake batter.
As always—you know me some habits are hard to break—I use a medium ice cream scoop to measure out the batter. It’s just easier. Plus all the cakes come out the same size.
These are obviously slightly bigger than cupcake size so I do two scoops of the batter in each cavity.
Repeat until all the bundts are filled.
We are going to pop these in a preheated 350° oven for about 20-25 minutes.
Rotate the pan halfway through baking, to ensure even cooking and browning.
The cakes are down when a toothpick, inserted in the center, comes out clean.
Once fully baked, remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
It is very very important to let the cakes cool completely in the pan. All the nooks and crannies of the pan are sticking to the warm cakes right now. They need to cool so that the cakes release from said nooks and crannies. If you are impatient and try to take them out while they are still warm well, cut to you later crying on the kitchen floor, pulling out your hair. The pan in one hand as the other hand tries desperately to remove the cakes carefully. Crumbs flying everywhere and cake falling to the floor, ruining your wonderful dessert. Tears streaming down your face because you did not want to wait the extra 30 minutes to allow the cakes to cool. I know it’s hard to wait. Especially when you are smelling the warm pineapple coconut smells wafting through the air. But get a hold of yourself. You’re an adult. You can wait.
Let’s not let that disaster happen to you. I’m here to make sure that it does not.
So let’s just wait.
Okay, they are cool. It’s like magic. That wasn’t so bad right?
The cakes are cool.
To remove the cakes, loosen the sides with a small offset spatula or a butter knife.
There are two ways you can take the cakes out of the pan.
Way one: just use your paws to remove each individually placing them on the cooling rack as you remove.
Way two: you can place a rack on top of the pan and then flip the pan upside down so that the rack is on the bottom and the pan on top.
At this point say a little bundt prayer.
Cross your fingers and lift the pan up.
Ok, you might have to help the cakes a little. The centers like to stick, but if you greased it properly then they should come right out.
See how eas…..STOP. Put that mini bundt cake down. Step away from the cakes. You have been warned.
They are not ready to be devoured just yet, silly.
We need to make the glaze. Yes a glaze.
What kind of glaze?
Well, it’s a super easy and yummy pineapple rum glaze.
You do not want to wait?
No but you do. Believe me, you want to make this glaze and put it on the cakes.
It will take them to the next level.
It will make them even more delectable.
It will make them even more irresistible.
How do you make the glaze?
Well, here let me show you.
Dump the powdered sugar into a bowl.
To the bowl add the drum roll please…….ba ba ba….you get the point. The Rum.
Yes, add the rum.
Or if you do not like living on the dangerous side or just do not like rum, you can use vanilla or coconut extract instead.
Me? I laugh at the face of danger. hahahahahahahaha.
SO I use rum.
Add the milk.
And a splash of that fresh pineapple juice we reserved from the chopped pineapple earlier.
Just add a splash of pineapple juice. Whisk.
You want the glaze to be somewhat thick.
If it is too thick add a bit more pineapple juice.
Okay glaze is done.
Remember those cakes?
How could you forget? Just in case you did, here they are again.
Place the rack on top of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (easier clean up).
And just spoon the glaze on top of each cake. It should run down the sides.
Sing a little song while you glaze the cakes.
Glaze them all.
And that’s it. We’re done.
The piña colada bundt cakes are finished.
You can now eat them. Go ahead grab one. Put it on plate.
Let’s not forget about the inspiration behind these cakes.
Piña Coladas are a perfect pairing with this treat. Whip up a batch for you and your friends.
Oh, it’s just you. Well whip up a big batch for just you. I won’t tell anyone.
These are a perfect dessert for any tropical themed party.
And I don’t know about you but I throw a tropical themed party at least once a week. Not really, but I wish I did. That would be awesome because it would mean that I’d make these cakes every week. And I’d be eating these every week. But sadly I do not. Such a dream hasn’t happened yet.
Enough show. Grab the fork and start eating.
These cakes get better as they sit in the fridge. The flavors just seep into the cakes and they get moist.
They are great to make in advance because it will give them a chance to develop even more incredible flavor.
It’s five o’clock somewhere. Happy Hour has started. Piña Coladas for everyone.
Mini Piña Colada Bundt Cakes
These piña colada cakes can be made into cupcakes if you’d prefer. They’re the prefect treat any day of the week. If you’re skeptical about baking with alcohol, feel free to swap out the rum for smaller amounts of vanilla or coconut extract.
Yield: 24 mini bundt cakes.
For the Piña Colada cake batter:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons dark rum (optional) or just 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple (drained and juice reserved for glaze), or 1/2 cup chopped canned pineapple (drained and juice reserved for glaze)
For the Pineapple Rum Glaze:
- 1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 4 cups)
- 1 tablespoon rum
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 2-4 tablespoons fresh pineapple juice
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease and flour a mini bundt pan, or if you have two then grease two. It’ll just save you from having to bake the cakes in two batches. Or you can also make cupcakes instead and line a cupcake pan with liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, into a bowl. In the bowl of a mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the softened butter. Whip for about 3 minutes on medium. Beat in the brown and granulated sugars. Cream together on medium-high for about 5 minutes or until mixture is fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl frequently, throughout mixing. Add the rum (if using, if not, add the vanilla) and coconut extract (if using) and mix once more. Add the coconut milk and mix again. Caution: the batter will appear curdled once the coconut milk has been added. Do not worry about this.
Add the dry ingredients in two batches, mixing just until incorporated, after each addition. You want to be careful not to over-mix the cake batter at this point as it can become tough and dry. It does not need to be completely smooth, there will be some lumps, it’s okay. Lastly, fold in the chopped pineapple.
Using a medium ice cream scoop, scoop out the batter into the prepared mini bundt pan. Rap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles lodged in the batter. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through baking to ensure even browning and cooking. You’ll know the cakes are done when a toothpick, inserted in the middle, comes out clean. You do not need to test all the cakes, when one cake is down, they are all down. Once baked, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for about 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edges of each bundt cake to loosen the cakes. Invert the pan onto a tray or cooling rack, the bundt cakes should come right out. You might need to help them along. Clean the pan and repeat with the remaining batter, making sure to grease and flour again as well. Allow the cakes to cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze mix all the ingredients in a bowl, except the fresh pineapple juice. As you whisk the ingredients together, stream in a bit of the pineapple juice, about a tablespoon at a time. Whisk until the glaze is thick but still pourable. If it is too thick add a bit more pineapple juice until desired consistency is reached. Spoon the glaze over each bundt cake, allowing it to drip down onto the sides. Serve right away or cover and place in the fridge until ready to eat. Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator. Enjoy!