In anticipation of the film release of Moana on November 23rd, we’re celebrating Disney’s newest seafaring heroine with a tropical medley of pineapple and coconut flavors, all combined to make one delicious batch of Moana-inspired cupcakes. Ah, just one more sweet treat to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. 

Tropical Beach Cupcakes image
Tropical Beach Cupcakes image
| Credit: Kelsey Hansen; Prop Styling: Torie Cox

When I first saw the trailer of Moana, an animated Disney musical set in the Pacific Islands, I was immediately interested in the film. Watching the titular lead character sail across the open ocean with a pet chicken by her side, battling deep-sea creatures and facing impossible odds, I knew this would be a Disney movie I could get on board with. It’s not a romantic film centered around true love’s first kiss with Prince Charming. Although, it does feature the voice of People Magazine’s version of a sexy Prince Charming, or more aptly titled, the “Sexiest Man Alive, who serves as Moana’s travel guide." But really, this is more a coming-of-age story set to a scenic ocean backdrop.

While Moana is in good company with a long list of fictional beauties, she couldn’t be more different from princesses like Cinderella and Ariel. She isn’t a demure girl on a quest to find true love or happiness; she’s a courageous 16-year-old Polynesian who finds her mettle and identity during a dangerous journey to save her people and the world she knows. Forget the ball gowns, pompadours, flowing red locks, and mermaid tails, Moana is built tough and strong without all the fancy dresses and tiaras.

And a hero like that deserves nothing less than to be celebrated with a recipe that’s as bold as she is in flavor, and artfully reminiscent of the world she’s trying to save. In honor of the film’s release on November 23rd, just one day before Thanksgiving, we’ve created these sweet cupcakes with a tropical twist, topped with candy seashells, gummy sharks, and paper umbrellas that are sure to please both kids and adults alike. While they certainly look impressive, making these cakes is a walk on the beach (no real cake decorating skills required), which is exactly where they’ll transport you to. So what are waiting for? Whip up a batch for Thanksgiving weekend or a Moana-viewing party for the kiddos.

As aptly stated by the Walt Disney Company, “Happiness is a state of mind.” And this handheld tropical confection is happiness found unexpectedly in a cupcake wrapper.