Tropical Summer Celebration

By Cindy Adams


Entertaining is as essential to summer as popsicles, trips to the beach, and firefly-filled nights. In a busy world, it’s important to take time to slow down and reconnect, and there’s no better place than your own backyard.

Outdoor gatherings take planning, but the payoff is priceless: happy memories. Splash into summer with recipes perfect for a patio or pool party. When the sun’s out, try some of these easy summer recipes. Don’t worry — everything is simple to make, so you’ll have plenty of time to relax!„

Pina Colada Cake

Imagine lounging by the pool as you take a big bite of tropical Piña Colada cake. It is sure to be a hit summer dessert at any cookout or pool party.


For the Cake:

Nonstick baking spray with flour
3 large eggs
2 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. vegetable oil
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 20-ounce can
crushed pineapple in juice

For the Soak:

1 15-ounce can cream of coconut
2 tbsp. dark rum
1 tbsp. lime juice

Does piña colada cake contain alcohol? This recipe does call for 2 tablespoons of dark rum in the soak. Because the alcohol will not bake off, the rum can either be omitted or substituted with 1 teaspoon of rum extract.

For the Topping:

3 c. cold heavy
whipping cream, divided
1/3 c. confectioner’s sugar
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice
1 3.4-ounce package coconut cream instant pudding mix
Toasted coconut chips, for garnish
Maraschino cherries, for garnish
Lime zest, for garnish

Tip: Sweetened condensed coconut milk can be substituted for cream of coconut.


For the cake: Prepare a 13×9-inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl for about 1 minute (you can use a whisk or a hand blender). Add the oil and whisk well to fully combine.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Add 1/2 of the crushed pineapple and whisk to combine completely. Add another 1/3 of the flour, then the remaining crushed pineapple, and the remaining flour mixture; whisking well to combine between each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and fold in any unincorporated bits. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Loosely place foil over the top of the cake to prevent excess browning. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven. Using a wooden spoon or a fork, poke holes all over the cake.

For the soak: Whisk together the cream of coconut, rum, and lime juice. Slowly pour the cream of coconut mixture over the top of the warm cake. Allow to cool completely.

For the topping: Using a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 1 1⁄2 cups of cream in a large bowl on medium-high speed until thickened. Add the confectioner’s sugar and whip until firm peaks form. In a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, drain the crushed pineapple and reserve the liquid.

In another large bowl, whisk the remaining 1 1⁄2 cups of cream, the pudding mix, and the liquid drained from the can of pineapple until smooth. Fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture in 3 additions until evenly combined. Fold in the drained pineapple.

Gently spread the topping over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To serve, sprinkle the cake with the toasted coconut and decorate with maraschino cherries and lime zest, if desired.