The Blue Hawaiian cocktail (not to be confused with the Blue Hawaii, which is totally different) is a classic blend of white rum, coconut, pineapple juice and Blue Curacao. The latter ingredient turns the drink a rather shocking shade of blue and the whole mix of flavours is exotic– the taste of a being on a tropical beach somewhere lovely.
When you think about it (trust me, I have...) cocktails share several similarities with cupcakes – both are pretty, decorated, attention-seeking and designed to be quick hits of happiness. I remember once reading an old book of cocktail recipes and the barman explained that you should drink your cocktail quickly or, as he termed it, “while it is still winking at you”. Cupcakes are the same.
I had to use the Blue Curacao in the buttercream, as the chance to make shocking blue buttercream was too fabulous to resist...but as you will see, that didn’t happen and instead I got a delicate, fresh green. That left the coconut, rum and pineapple for the sponge; I used Malibu, which is a coconut rum, but ordinary rum would be just as nice. I opted for a coconut sponge filled with pineapple curd – this added extra texture and kept the flavours separate. Here they are loaded with curd...
...and this is how it looks in the finished cupcake:
The flavours worked really well in this cupcake and they looked ever so pretty without a lot of effort on my part. These are the perfect cupcakes for January – they’re little hits of happiness!
For those of you nervous about making Swiss meringue buttercream here’s my step by step guide.
For the pineapple curd:
2 egg yolks (keep the whites for the buttercream!)
200ml pineapple juice
50g caster sugar
For the cupcake sponge (this will make 12 cupcakes):
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
4 tablespoons desiccated coconut
2 tablespoon Malibu (coconut rum)
125g self raising flour
1 tablespoon milk
For the swiss meringue buttercream:
4 egg whites
250g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 teaspoons Blue Curacao
To decorate: maraschino cherries
Start by making the pineapple curd; this can be done several days in advance: place all the ingredients into a saucepan and stir, over a low heat, until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Don’t panic and think yours isn’t working – it can take 10 minutes or more before, in an instant, it thickens and turns into curd.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then refrigerate until needed. It will thicken further as it chills.
To make the cupcakes, increase the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
Line a cupcake pan with paper cases.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix together the coconut and Malibu so that the coconut absorbs some of the rum. Normally, I’d add this after the eggs but I wanted to ensure it was added early and well distributed in the batter.
Beat in the eggs, flour, and milk.
When the mixture is smooth and well combined, spoon into the paper cases.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean. Mine took 16 minutes.
Leave to cool on a wire rack and remove from the tin when cool enough to handle.
On the day of serving, use a corer or knife to remove the central core of the cupcake sponge out, taking care not to go right down to the bottom of the cupcake.
Now make the swiss meringue buttercream: Place the egg whites and sugar in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir pretty much constantly to prevent the egg from cooking.
After 5-10 minutes, when the sugar has dissolved (when you cannot see any crystals on the back of the spoon), remove the bowl from the pan of simmering water and whisk until the meringue has puffed up and the mix is cool.
Add the butter to the meringue and whisk until the butter has been completely incorporated into the meringue. At first it will look a disaster – it will collapse and look curdled but don’t worry! Stop when the mixture is smooth, light and fluffy.
Now add the Blue Curacao gradually and beat until the colour of the buttercream is evenly blue.
Fill the whole with half a teaspoonful of pineapple curd.
Pipe the buttercream on top of the cupcake and top with a maraschino cherry.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.