Tropical Pineapple Cupcakes with Citrus Cream Frosting

Tropical Pineapple Cupcakes with Citrus Cream Frosting
Story and Photo by Denice Hernandez

A genuine love for food, a sweet tooth and a curious desire to try new desserts is all it takes to turn an ordinary chef into a cupcake fanatic.

Ari Rivera graduated from St. Mary’s University with a bachelor’s degree in English-communication arts, and is currently pursuing her second degree in forensic science.

“I would like to get into serology, pathology, or even research. I would really like to get into that and open up a bakery later in life,” she says.

From an early age, Rivera began exploring the world of baking with her mother and sister, and her love for oven treats has been growing ever since.

“I remember my favorite being pecan pie. My mom had me make it every thanksgiving since I was 12 I think,” she says. “My mom showed me different recipes and my sister has always been supportive of my cupcake love.”

In fact, Rivera’s recently perfected dish, tropical pineapple cupcakes with citrus cream frosting, was created from a recipe she selected from a cupcake book given to her by her sister.
Rivera brought baking back into her life after being inspired by a feature film she saw some years ago.

“My passion for baking was left on the back burner for a really long time, until 2007 when I watched Stranger than Fiction. I loved Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character and I realized, I definitely want to own a bakery like her one day,” says the aspiring pastry chef.

Although cupcakes and science seem to be worlds apart, Rivera says baking is a scientific process.

“It is scientific—the way chemicals, ingredients and flavors come together,” she says. Getting proportions right is often the most challenging part of the baking process, she added.

According to Rivera, the best part of a cupcake is, simply, the cake.

“So many times a cupcake is merely used as a vehicle for frosting that is often too sweet,” she says. “I prefer to focus on the quality of the cake in moisture and flavor and having frosting that tastes like more than just sugar.”

Spicy Asian foods are also a favorite of the cupcake chef.

Rivera says she enjoys the nurturing and feminine aspects of baking, but she also loves the art of making a mess.

The cupcake enthusiast admits to a couple of kitchen blunders in the past.

“I have spilled more mixes than I would like to admit,” the pastry chef says with a grin.

“I have even dropped completed pies outside. It was not funny at the time, but now I can look back and laugh.”

Rivera encourages beginners to have a sense of humor when learning how to bake, and most importantly, dare to experiment.

“You have to try new things all the time if you are going broaden your horizons. Take a recipe and give it a twist, you might be surprised!”



  • 2 slices canned pineapple in juice
  • 6 tsp butter
  • 3/8 c superfine sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 5/8 c self-rising flour
  • 1 T pineapple juice


  • 2 T butter
  • 3/8 c cream cheese
  • 1 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon or lime juice

Makes 12 cupcakes.

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place twelve cupcake papers in a muffin pan. Then, finely chop pineapple slices and set aside. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the egg. Add the flour to the mix and, using a large metal spoon, fold all the ingredients in the mix. Next, fold in the pineapple and pineapple juice. Finally, Spoon the batter into the paper cases. While cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting. Mix the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Then sift confectioners’ sugar into the mix and beat it all together; gradually beat in the juice from the lemon. Let the cupcakes cool before applying frosting. Once frosted, store cupcakes in refrigerator and serve cool.

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