The Island Rum Incident (Or How to Make Pina Colada Cupcakes)

When I was 13, my dad and I went to the Bahamas for Spring Break. Our first night there, we heard a delightful reggae sound coming from the bar. Unable to pass up a live performance, we stopped by to check it out. When our waitress came by to get our order, my dad ordered a glass of wine, and I attempted to order a virgin pina colada. The waitress scowled and replied in a thick accent, “It’s the same price without alcohol.”

“That’s OK. I don’t need the rum,” I replied.

“But it’s the same price,” she insisted. This went on for quite a while until I finally requested a Sprite instead of the Pina Colada I actually wanted. I mean, I was 13 and didn’t look a day older than that from the neck up. I was rocking braces with florescent pink rubber bands. You know the kind that make you look like you have an entire pack of Hubba Bubba stuck in your teeth? Yeah, I had those. I also had the bad braids you pay for on the beach. I was clearly nowhere near the legal drinking age anywhere in the world, but she didn’t seem to notice or care. My dad was so amused by the entire exchange that he never intervened. He probably would have stopped her from bringing me a hurricane glass brimming with rum if she had won the battle of the wills, but he was too busy chuckling over the whole thing to get involved. Plus, I’m not one to be pushed around. Never was.

We later figured out the entire altercation was because rum is so cheap in the islands that it’s less expensive than drink mixers or soda. It’s common for island bars to increase the amount of rum in cocktails because it’s practically less expensive than the ice in the glass.

So anyway, I didn’t get my fruity drink that night and rather grudgingly sipped on my Sprite before choking down what was easily the most chewy conch dinner ever served to anyone.

Now I’d happily have a nice Bahamian lady over serve me, but I’m a long way from the islands. Sure southern California doesn’t completely suck, but there isn’t anyone with dreads playing the steel drums in my lobby, and I’m a long way from feeling irie. Or whatever.

To capture a little of the island feel amidst the smog and haze of Hollywood today, I put on some vintage Jimmy Cliff tunes and whipped up pina colada cupcakes.

These pina colada cupcakes are so good I almost forgot I was in the land of smog and traffic. Almost.

Here’s the recipe in case your weather is making you want to run away to warmer places where they’ll try to get your kids drunk to the sound of steel drums.

Pina Colada Cupcakes

2 ½ C flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ C butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 C brown sugar
1 C cream of coconut
2 tsp coconut extract
½ C chopped pineapple

Makes 24

Preheat the oven to 350. Place liners in the cupcake pans.

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a medium bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add coconut extract and blend.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix to blend. Add the cream of coconut and mix to blend. Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients and blend. Add the pineapple and mix thoroughly.

Pour the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

2, 8 oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
½ C butter, room temperature
3/4 tsp coconut extract
2-3 C powdered sugar, sifted

Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add the coconut extract and mix thoroughly. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix. Add additional sugar by ¼ cupfuls until the frosting reaches desired sweetness and consistency.

Garnish cupcakes with toasted coconut, maraschino cherries, and candied pineapple.

Note: I prefer to toast the coconut in a frying pan over medium heat because it’s too easy to forget about it in the oven. I also find it easier to control the heat on the burner, but that’s just me.

Prince Harry, Pina Coladas, and Other Observations on Vegas. (Or I’m Looking for the Perfect Pina Colada)

Note to self: I need hurricane glasses. Pina Coladas just don’t look right when served in the wrong glassware.

You have probably already heard, but just in case you haven’t, Prince Harry’s blurry bum and bits are prominently featured on TMZ today. I mean, he was in Vegas, so it’s kind of, “Whatever. Leave the poor prince alone!” But it is the royal bum, so it’s breaking news. Or something.

(By the way, if you want to see the blurry pics of the prince, who apparently isn’t all that good at playing pool, here’s the link, but maybe don’t click on it if you’re at work.)

You’re welcome.

So, yeah, that’s all very different than my last trip to the strip. The last time I went to Vegas I had a large pina colada outside of Paris after a day at the pool and then promptly fell asleep snuggling with the dogs while watching TV.

The only available “glassware” for serving Pina Coladas outside of Paris were either this balloon situation or a large plastic Eiffel Tower that hung from my neck. I considered this the lesser of two aesthetic evils.

Clearly, I didn’t do Vegas right. I didn’t step on any burning cigarettes or broken glass while carrying my shoes across the strip at 7 am, I didn’t drop $400 on food in two days, and I didn’t play strip pool with a prince.

I mean, it should hardly even count as a trip to Vegas if about six girls aren’t washing their filthy feet in the spa tub at the same time and at least one person doesn’t play poker until dawn with an off season athlete. (And, no, that is absolutely not a euphemism.) But this was not that kind of trip. Not the kind that leads to dirty feet or royal debauchery, anyway.

After vacillating for weeks about meeting up with friends who were in town for a hockey tournament, I made a game day decision — like booked my room at 10 am and jumped in the car with the dogs at 11 am kind of game day decision. Obviously, I would never bring them for a wild weekend, but this was just a chill, catch up with friends by the pool kind of trip. Totally the kind for dogs. I should probably do a post on bringing dogs to Vegas because there are challenges, but it can be done, and I have the pictures to prove it.

Albus discovers that everything is super sized in Vegas. Even the cats.

Apparently, Albus has caught the scent of margaritas, quesadillas, and sin. This photo was taken moments before he tried to enter Margaritaville of his own volition.

So anyway, all of this TMZ talk of Vegas was really making me want a pina colada and some vintage booty music tonight, so I cranked up some bad 90s jams like Yolanda, Tootsee Roll, and Fatboy and pulled out the blender.

I mixed up a batch of pina coladas, and I have to admit it wasn’t life changing. I mean, it was pretty good and it wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as the crappy made from a mix kind, but I think I wanted more pineapple punch. Next time I’ll probably use fresh pineapple instead of the canned version in juice. I may even freeze the pineapple before mixing it and cut down on the ice so the drink will have a little more sweet pineappley pizzazz.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: 68% of the TMZ audience? Now thinks Prince Harry is awesome.

(And, yes, I had to vote to find that out. I might have even voted twice. Don’t judge me. After all, I did hear about the royal debacle from NPR in the first place.)

Pina Colada

2/3 C light rum
2/3 C pineapple
2/3 C cream of coconut
3 C crushed ice

Add the rum, pineapple and cream of coconut and blend thoroughly. Add the crushed ice and blend completely.

To achieve a more uniform slushy consistency, I put the cocktail in my ice cream maker and let it do its magic for about ten minutes. That made it an awesome consistency.

If you have any other suggestions to improve upon the pina colada recipe, please hook me up. I need to find my perfect Prince Charming Pina Colada.