RECIPE: ‘If you like Pinia Colada’ Carrot Cake

Back when my daughter was younger and at a small parochial school, there seemed to be a never ending need of baked goods for various school functions. I was always baking for a bake sale, birthday treats, class projects or parties.  So I started to buy box cake mixes (which is taboo in my book, I am a bit of a purist if you follow the blog) when it was on sale to keep on hand in the pantry. Usually I found out about needing to bake something at 8 p.m. the night before. After many late nights, I learned my lesson. Boxed mixes became my saving grace.

Interestingly enough, now that my daughter attends a public school, I am baking a whole lot less. A LOT LESS. Fascinating, really. Public schools just have better funding and bigger populations for volunteer support. They don’t have to run their schools with the help of constant bake sales from the same small handful of involved families.

But I digress.

So now that I don’t have to pump out baked goods like an oompa loompa factory, I have had some boxed cake mixes that were getting close to their “sell by” date in the pantry, and I wanted to play with them a little. Box cakes are great time savers, and with some clever mix-in ingredients you can make some really creative.

Like this ‘If you like Pinia Colada’ Carrot Cake.

Carrot cakes have a great nutty sweetness from the carrots, which I thought would work well with pineapple. And pineapple reminded me of some delicious Pinia Coladas my husband and I had in beach-side in Florida one year. (That was fun afternoon.)
So I decided to try and recreate a Pinia Colada with this carrot cake mix. I even use rum extract to get the experience-while keeping it kid-friendly.

I think if this were just for adults, I would use real rum and drizzle rum on the cake layers before filling and frosting.

Mmmmm, Naughty.

I also dare you to try and NOT sing “If you like Pinia Colada…and getting caught in the rain……” while making this.

‘If you like’ Pinia Colada Carrot Cake


1 box carrot cake mix (we like Betty Crocker #bettycrocker)
½ cup cream of coconut (reserve the rest for the frosting)
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple with juice
1 tsp. imitation rum extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup white chocolate chips

1 can white vanilla frosting
½ cup cream of coconut (us as much of the solids as possible)
1 ½ tsp. coconut extract
1 tsp. imitation rum extract


Preheat oven to 350˚ Cut parchment to line bottoms of 2 9” cake pans. Lightly spray with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the cake mix with the cream of coconut, the can of pineapple, oil, rum and vanilla extracts with a large whisk. Mix really well. Your arm should feel like you are having a working out. (You can also just use a hand mixer.) In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until combined. Add them to the cake batter and whisk until well blended. Add the shredded coconut and chocolate chips by hand with a spatula until evenly distributed.

Pour into pans evenly and cook in the middle of the oven, flipping their place once during cooking, for about 30-35 minutes. Cakes should be golden and spring back when touched lightly.

Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Then run a butter knife gently along the sides and transfer the cakes out to the racks to cool completely. Meanwhile make the frosting.

In a bowl mix the frosting ingredients together until well combined. By adding all this liquid, the frosting will be loose. Chill for about 30 minutes so you can frost the cake with some control.

Set cake on your serving platter. Fill the center with about 1/3 of the frosting and place the top layer on it. Frost a light crumb layer all over the cake and chill for 10 minutes. Then pull it out and generously frost the whole cake. Sprinkle the top with shredded coconut and edge the top outer circle with the white chocolate chips. Finally get a paper cocktail umbrella and run a maraschino cherry through it and place it at the center, just like you were pool side in Miami. Good times.



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