Vanilla Cupcakes with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

April 15, 2017 by Nicole Collins

Happy Easter Eve!

My mom was telling me a story the other day about a commercial she heard on the radio for a local candy shop. The commercial was about a 32 year old man that was talking to his mom about how he still gets an Easter basket every year. There was some talk about the candy shop and putting their candy in his basket. Then, at the end of the commercial, he said “And I still haven't figured out how the Easter Bunny gets in to the house?!?”

Apparently, this commercial cracks her up every morning when she hears it on her way in to work. She also said the commercial reminds her of me, which is why she was telling me about it.

I'm thinking it reminded her of me because I'm 32 years old, and I (proudly) still receive an Easter basket every year.

However, to her, she's wondering where to find this 32 year old man and if he's single. #priorities

It's true though, the Easter Bunny still brings me an Easter basket every year. He even lets my mama use the same basket that I've been receiving since I was a kid. And every year, there's one staple that I can always expect in that basket...Reese Peanut Butter Eggs. It's not Easter without Reese Eggs.

Don't worry, the Easter Bunny brings my mama an Easter basket too. This year, in addition to some candy, there's a Golden Girl's adult coloring book in her basket. My mom LOVES Golden Girls. It's pretty much the only show that's not on Gameshow Network that she watches. I've had this coloring book stashed in my gift closet for months. She's gonna flip!

Holiday dinners around my house are pretty low key. My family is tiny, so there's only 3 people to feed. And one of them (my little brother) pretty much only eats Hamburger Helper and boxed Mac and Cheese. Sometimes, I wonder how in the world I'm related to them.

But on Easter, I'm always responsible for bringing 2 things: Shrimp and Mac Salad (which I'll share with you soon, I promise!), and dessert. My mama has a huge sweet tooth, so if we forgot all of the other food and just had dessert, she'd be fine with that. Where was that philosophy when I was growing up?!?

For dessert this year, I knew I wanted to stay away from chocolate, since our baskets will be full of chocolate candy. I also knew that I wanted to have pineapple incorporated somewhere in the dessert. Pineapple equals warmer days ahead in my mind. And it's one of the fruity flavors that my mom will actually eat.

This is how my thought process went...pineapple cupcakes...or how about carrot cake cupcakes made with pineapple...no mama won't eat carrot cake...but cream cheese frosting though...pineapple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting?...pineapple cream cheese frosting? DING DING DING!

Let me break it down for you. I decided to go with a vanilla cake base. Now, no judging. I used a box cake mix. I'm not ashamed to take some shortcuts. I switched up the cake mix by swapping out the water called for in the box recipe with cream soda. The cream soda adds an extra layer of vanilla that makes you say “Mmmm...” Because of the extra bubbles in the mix, it's important that you only fill the cupcake liners half way as opposed to the 2/3 of the way that we're used to. These cupcakes really rise, and they get a little ugly if we go the whole 2/3.

Now if we're being honest, the star of the cupcake is really the icing anyway. And this pineapple cream cheese frosting is a home run! I took a traditional cream cheese frosting base and added freeze dried pineapple that's been pulverized to dust. You get all of the fresh fruit flavor without compromising the integrity of the frosting like normally happens when you add wet fruit to frosting. It's actually a brilliant trick that I learned from Sally's Baking Addition when I made her amazing Strawberry Buttercream recipe. She's my hero, for sure!

These cupcakes will taste amazing no matter what time of year you make them, but if you're looking for a last minute dessert idea for your Easter dinner, these couldn't be simpler! To Easterfy them (new word...add it to the dictionary, Webster), drop some green food coloring in the icing, throw some Peeps and Easter egg M&Ms on top, and BAM! An adorable Easter Dessert that took no time at all.

If you just want to make the frosting and eat that with a spoon without the cupcake, I'd support that too. No judging, remember?

Have a great holiday, say hello to your families for me, and let's eat!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves: 24 cupcakes Print

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 1 box white cake mix

  • 1 ¼ cups cream soda

  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

  • 3 eggs

For the Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature

  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter, softened at room temperature

  • 1 1.75oz pack (50 grams or just over 1 cup) of freeze dried pineapple

  • 1 lb (16 oz or about 4 cups) powdered sugar

  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

  • 1 tsp vanilla

For Easter Decoration:

  • Bunny Peeps marshmallows in your favorite colors

  • Easter egg Peanut M&Ms

  • 1-2 drops of gel paste food coloring in your favorite shade of green (I used AmeriColor gel in Electric Green.)

Directions:

  1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with 24 cupcake liners. Mix all cake ingredients by hand until everything is combined (roughly 2 mins). (Batter will have lumps.) Fill cupcake lines ½ full with batter. Bake for 14-17 mins til tops begin to look golden and a toothpick inserted in to the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from pan, and set aside to cool.

  2. For the frosting: Add softened cream cheese and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix together on medium high speed for 1 minute until everything is mixed together and looking creamy. In a personal rocket blender or small food processor, grind the freeze dried pineapple into a powder. Add the pineapple powder, powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds until the sugar starts to incorporate in the butter mixture. Turn up to medium high speed, and finish mixing for about 1-2 minutes until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

  3. Once the cupcakes are completely cool to the touch, decorate the cupcakes any way you like! If you'd like to decorate these for Easter, add 1-2 drops of gel paste food coloring to the mixing bowl of the frosting, and mix on low speed until the color is evenly distributed. Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large open tip. (I used Wilton 2A.) Pipe a swirl on to the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with 1 Peeps bunny and 3 M&Ms eggs.

Recipe notes:

*These can sit tightly covered at room temperature for 2-3 days. If by chance they last any longer than that (not likely), pop them in the fridge.

*Freeze dried pineapples may seem like at obscure ingredient, but it's actually pretty easy to find. I get mine at Target.

*Cupcake recipes generally call for filling the liners 2/3 full. Make sure you only fill the cupcake liners ½ full with this batter. The carbonation in the cream soda makes these rise a little extra, and they'll be overflowing and not so pretty if you fill them too full.

*I've always mixed box cake mixes by hand. This isn't an official ruling, but I believe that mixing by hand prevents over mixing which in turn leads to a fluffier cake. The batter is thin enough that it's not a struggle to do. That's what I tell myself anyway!

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