Featuring two layers of sweet pineapple cake and a layer of creamy coconut cheesecake, this piña colada cheesecake cake is a show-stopping summer dessert.
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Happy July (!!!) everybody! How was your Fourth? Or your Canada Day? Or your non-holiday weekend? Was it wonderful? Did you get to play with sparklers? I didn’t get to have fireworks this year but my day was fantabulous anyway. Because my addition to the festivities was this piña colada cheesecake cake.
Or more accurately, my addition was what was left of this piña colada cheesecake cake after I finished photographing it for this post—part of my photography process is eating bites of whatever I’m shooting to make my slices more uniform.
I suffer for my art.
But let me back up a bit and tell you a little more about this cake—so you can see why it was so fah-reaking irresistible. The cheesecake layer is the creamiest, coconut-iest cheesecake ever; I’m definitely going to post a stand-alone version of it at some point. And we stuff that cheesecake in between two layers of pineapple cake, made quick ‘n easy with a box cake mix because we’re buy people. Then we frost the whole thing with the most heavenly coconut rum buttercream you can even imagine. GUYS! SOSOSO good.
I’ve posted all kinds of cheesecake-y recipes this year but this piña colada cheesecake cake is easily my favorite. You could even say it takes the cake.
Yeah, I hate me too right now. But I’m still in a post-holiday sugar coma so maybe you can forgive the bad word play? And while you’re in a forgiving mood, maybe you can overlook just how many cheesecakes I’ve been posting. Because (eep) I still have a few more coming.
I can’t help it! When I find something I like, I hit repeat until I get sick of it and never want to see/hear/eat it again. . .tell me I’m not the only one? It took me just six months to tire of Fleetwood Mac’s greatest hits so if that’s a measure I should be over the cheesecake thing soon.
The pineapple layers took several tries to get right; I couldn’t get enough pineapple flavor from juice alone, but when I tried adding crushed pineapple to the cake the texture was weird, so I turned to pineapple flavoring. You can get away without adding the flavoring but your cake won’t have much pineapple flavor.
One warning though: do NOT taste the flavoring straight. I did and my tongue went numb and everything tasted like pineapple for the rest of the day. I make these mistakes so you don’t have to—not that anyone but me would be tempted to taste something labeled “super strength.”
A few notes: Both the cheesecake layer and the frosting call for cream of coconut. This is NOT the same as coconut cream—cream of coconut is sweetened, and is so delicious you might be tempted to eat it right out of the can. I use Coco Lopez.
The frosting calls for both rum and rum flavoring; if you’re serving this to children you can leave out the real stuff and you’ll be just fine. If you want an extra kick of rum without the booze, add more of the flavoring—just do it slowly as it’s pretty potent.
The cheesecake layer needs to refrigerate overnight so be sure to plan for that.
Have a great first weekend of July! I hope it includes a slice of piña colada cheesecake cake—paper umbrellas optional but highly recommended.
Piña colada cheesecake cake is an umbrella drink in cake form--it's just perfect for summer!
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup cream of coconut NOT coconut cream—I use Coco Lopez
- 1/2 teaspoon rum flavor
- 1/4 teaspoon coconut
- 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut toasted*
- 1 15.25-ounce white cake mix + ingredients listed on box
- Pineapple juice
- 1 3.4-ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1/2 teaspoon pineapple flavoring optional
- A couple drops of yellow food coloring optional
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup cream of coconut NOT coconut cream
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon rum optional
- 1/2 teaspoon rum flavor
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- maraschino cherries for garnish optional
- additional toasted coconut for garnish optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then generously spray the pan with cooking spray again. Set pan aside.
Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and flour together with an electric mixer set to medium speed. Beat in eggs and egg yolks one at a time, mixing until eggs are just incorporated. Turn mixer to low and beat in the sour cream, cream of coconut, rum flavor and coconut extract. Fold in the toasted coconut.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Set pan in a roasting pan (or any large baking pan) and carry over to the oven. Pour a couple inches of water into the pan, then carefully transfer to the oven. Bake 28 to 34 minutes, until the center of the cheesecake barely wobbles. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife between the cake and the edge of the pan. Cool cheesecake to room temperature. Once cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
After the cheesecake has refrigerated, dip the pan in a bowl of hot water for about 15 seconds. Run a knife around the edge of the cake again, then set a large plate or a cake circle on top of the pan. Invert the cake onto the plate. Keep refrigerated until you assemble the cake.
Spray 2 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper; spray the paper and lightly dust with flour. Set pans aside.
Prepare cake batter according to the directions on the box, substituting pineapple juice for the water—if your cake mix calls for 1 cup of water, use 1 cup of pineapple juice. Beat in the vanilla pudding mix, then the pineapple flavoring and food coloring, if using.
Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake as directed on the box, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake layers comes out clean. (The layers may take just a few minutes more than usual to be fully done.) Cool in pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then carefully invert pans onto the rack to cool cake layers completely.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the cream of coconut. Turn mixer to low and gradually add 4 cups powdered sugar, then the rum (if using), rum flavor, coconut extract, and salt. Beat on medium for 4 minutes. Adjust consistency if necessary by adding additional cream of coconut if frosting is too thick or additional powdered sugar if it is too thin.
Place one of the pineapple cake layers on a cake stand or cake circle. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top. Carefully top with the cheesecake layer. Top cheesecake with another thin layer of frosting, spreading it gently into an even layer. Top with remaining pineapple cake layer. (It’s possible your cheesecake layer will be a little wider than your cake; if this is the case trim it by running a sharp paring knife around the perimeter of the cake.) Use remaining frosting to frost the cake, and decorate if desired. Serve and enjoy.
*To toast your coconut, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut into a single layer on a large baking sheet and bake, tossing occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, until coconut is evenly golden brown. If your coconut isn’t golden after 5 minutes, continue toasting, tossing every minute or so, until it reaches the desired color. Watch it carefully because it burns quickly.
Cheesecake layer adapted from The Baker’s Manual