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Aloha Cupcakes

A friend asked me to make a coconut and pineapple cupcake for a gathering she was hosting. Everyone agreed that this beauty took them to the tropics. The macadamia nuts are completely optional (the friend happens to be allergic), and the cupcakes are still fantastic without them. —Shannon Dobos, Calgary, Alberta
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. Bake: 15 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    1 dozen


  • 1-1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line 12 muffin cups with paper or foil liners. Whisk first 4 ingredients; set aside. Beat eggs and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute. Add oil and coconut extract; beat 1 minute more. Add half the flour mixture; beat on low speed. Combine coconut milk and vinegar. Add half to batter; beat just until combined. Beat in the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining coconut milk mixture just until smooth.
  • Fill prepared cups two-thirds full. Bake until cupcakes are golden brown and spring back lightly when touched, 15-18 minutes (do not overbake). Cool on wire rack.
  • For frosting, cream shortening and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup at a time, adding finely chopped pineapple and pineapple juice after beating in 2 cups of sugar. Add additional confectioners' sugar and pineapple juice to reach desired consistency.
  • Spoon frosting onto cupcakes. Top with toasted coconut and, if desired, chopped macadamia nuts.

Test Kitchen tips
  • Do not substitute all-purpose flour. Cake flour is so magical in a white cupcake!
  • No fresh pineapple? Use canned pineapple tidbits and juice instead.
  • For topping, toast 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut by heating over medium-high heat in a small skillet for 3-4 minutes. Watch it very carefully, as it will start to toast quickly once it gets going.

  • Editor's Note
    To toast coconut, bake in a shallow pan in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
    Nutrition Facts
    1 frosted cupcake: 533 calories, 29g fat (11g saturated fat), 51mg cholesterol, 287mg sodium, 67g carbohydrate (55g sugars, 1g fiber), 3g protein.

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    • Aubrie
      Feb 25, 2021

      These were amazing!! My family loved them. I did end up making a few changes, just with the things I had on hand. I didn’t have cake flour, but all purpose flour worked fine! I also used coconut oil instead of canola, and a little extra coconut extract. The cupcake’s aftertaste was so coconuty! For the frosting, I improvised a bit. I only used 3 cups of powdered sugar instead of 4. I used pineapple juice from a can of pineapple chunks, so it was sweetened. I used 4 tablespoons instead of 3, and it tasted so good by itself, but once on the cake, no one could taste it. Next time I would use a bit more. I also didn’t use the pineapple chunks. The frosting was so thick, I couldn’t pipe it, but they still turned out great! It did make a little too much frosting though. Loved this recipe! Totally recommend for someone who wants a delicious piña colada cupcake!

    • Emily
      Aug 23, 2020

      Fantastic! This definitely reminded me of Hawaii with the pineapple and coconut taste. I'm not too fond of shredded coconut, but I tried it out anyways and it turned out great. It was a nice balance between the frosting and the other toppings. I lack the decorating skills to make them look like they did in the picture, but they were delicious. I also had a significant amount of leftover frosting, but it's so delicious that I'm sure I'll find other uses for it besides the cupcakes. I will definitely be making these again.

    • veggiemama
      Feb 11, 2018

      At first, I couldn't decide whether not not I liked these, but I can't explain why. After eating 2, I decided to keep the recipe. They are really light and fluffy, including the frosting. I did have to bake them for about 5 minutes longer than the recipe said to. I also had a LOT of leftover frosting. These are very different and were a nice change.