If you know me then you know that I love coconut and Pina Coladas. This coconut cake is the one that I bake for most of my birthdays and for my dad anytime that I’m in town visiting him. Linda, my childhood friend’s mother, shared this recipe with me over twenty five years ago when I was still in high school.
Pina Colada Cake starts out simple enough – bake a boxed cake. Then you throw in a plot twist by pouring cans of sweet milk and crushed pineapple over it. It’s a decadent dessert at it’s finest!
I hung on to the small piece of paper that I wrote the recipe down on the day that I tried this delicious cake. It’s one of those memorable scraps of paper that I have moved with from house to house and country to country and as a result, I have been able to share the cake and recipe with many people over the years.
In my opinion, Pina Colada Cake isn’t the same without the Coco Lopez Creme of Coconut drink mix. You’ll find it in your grocery store aisle where they stock the alcoholic beverage mixers like Margarita and Bloody Mary mix. It’s usually on a shelf up high or down low so you may need to search for it. I think the grocery store knows that you need to stretch and burn calories before you make this decadent cake so they don’t shelve it at eye level. I have linked the Coco Lopez above so that you can see what to buy for the most authentic and tastiest cake.
This recipe originally called for pouring the liquid over the top, one can at a time, and placing the cake in the refrigerator between pours, but I am impatient so I modified the recipe. Rather than waiting an hour between pouring each can, I pour all of the liquids over the cake after poking the holes in it with a fork. It’s a much more efficient process and the final product is no different.
I use a can of crushed pineapple with juice in this Pina Colada Cake. If you’re allergic to it or don’t love pineapple, you can leave it out, or try this delicious layered Coconut Cake recipe instead.
Linda’s Pina Colada Cake is a great make ahead dessert since it needs time to set up and absorb all of the liquid. If you’ve ever had a Tres Leches Cake, then you’ll understand the process and unique texture of a Pina Colada Cake.
No matter where I take this cake, people always ask for the recipe so be prepared to share it. I usually make the cake in a 9 x 13 glass pan at home, but if I am taking it to a gathering away from home, I bake the cake in a disposable aluminum pan.
Thaw the Cool Whip out in the refrigerator before making this cake.
Preheat oven and mix the cake mix according to the directions on the box. I use the butter flavored, yellow cake mix, and melt the butter before adding it to the mixing bowl. Use any brand, variety of yellow cake mix if you prefer the version with oil.
Spray a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish or aluminum cake pan with cooking spray, and then pour the cake batter into the pan. Bake the cake until done (about 24 – 28 minutes), make sure to test the center with a fork or toothpick.
Allow the cake to cool and then poke holes all over the cake using a fork. I clean the tines of the fork off as they gather cake crumbs so the cake doesn’t tear up during the process of poking all of the holes.
Pour the Coco Lopez Creme of Coconut over the entire surface of the cake, and then pour the sweetened condensed milk over. Spoon the crushed pineapple and juice over the entire surface of the cake. (If you can’t find a smaller can of crushed pineapple, use half of a large can). Sprinkle a little coconut over the cake and then spread the entire container of Cool Whip over the surface. Decorate the top with a thick layer of the shredded coconut.
Cover the cake with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 8 hours for the best flavor and texture. The cake will absorb the sweetened milk and taste much better when it is allowed to sit overnight.
Refrigerate leftovers since the cake has Cool Whip. If you want to add a decorative touch, serve individual slices with a dollop of whipped cream, a maraschino cherry, and a wedge of pineapple.