This Italian Cream Cake is a gussied up caramel cake! It features moist, tender layers are studded with chopped nuts and coconut and separated with lusciously smooth and creamy caramel buttercream.
This cake may look fancy and impressive, but it is rather simple to make, which makes it a winner all year long!
I am so excited to share this recipe. I have been wanting to try my hands at an Italian Cream Cake for so long, but for whatever reason, I assumed the process would be too daunting or take too long.
The truth is this cake is quite easy to bake and the flavor is tremendous!
What Is Italian Cream Cake
An Italian cream cake is a real special occasion, a yellow, three-layer cake that features both chopped pecans and shredded coconut.
The frosting is a cream cheese-based frosting and is either filled with nuts or decorated with nuts. It is typically infused with coconut as well.
Where Did the Italian Cream Cake Originate?
The true origin of this cake is not known. The cake appears to have southern origins. It was created by an Italian baker, although the cakes itself is not necessarily an Italian style cake,
Ingredients Needed To Make This Italian Cream Cake
Most of the ingredients are basic, pantry staples. I will highlight a few of these for you here.
Eggs – I always use large grade eggs; I want moisture and the volume for my baked goods and these eggs work perfectly. Allow your eggs to come to room temperature prior to baking.
Butter – Make sure your butter is soft. I prefer to use unsalted butter for my baked goods.
Brown Sugar – I prefer to use light brown sugar for the color, but for a deeper caramel-like color you can use dark brown sugar.
Buttermilk – I often find myself without buttermilk when baking and I rarely use up a whole bottle when I do buy it. A good substitute is to combine 1 tablespoon of either lemon juice or vinegar with 1 cup of milk. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes.
Caramel Extract – This is where the caramel flavor is intensified, but this is completely optional.
All-Purpose Flour – I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Unbleached Flour. This flour is a premium, high-quality flour that is both unbleached and unenriched, leaving your baked goods light and fluffy.
Cream Cheese – The cream cheese should be softened when used fro the buttercream so that it creams up nice and smooth. I tend to gravitate towards the ½ half, but you can use what you prefer.
Caramels – I used unwrapped caramel candies microwaved with a little heavy cream. I prefer using melted candies to caramel sauce. The candies are thicker, creamier and have better flavor.
Pecans – These are chopped and unsalted
Coconut – I used both Bob’s Red Mill shredded coconut and coconut flakes. The shredded coconut blends nicely into the cake batter and the frosting without being overpowering while the flaked coconut is toasted and used for the outside of the cake.
How To Make This Caramel Italian Cream Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Trace a 9 inch cake pan on a piece of parchment paper, cut out the circle. Repeat this two more times.
- Spray 3 9 inch cake pans with non-stick spray, place the parchment paper in each pan, and spray the paper with non-stick spray and set the pans aside,
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and shortening. Add the sugars.
- Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Slowly add the yolks to the butter mixture. Add the extracts.
- Combine milk and baking soda, add the milk mixture alternately with the flour until combined.
- Fold in egg whites followed by chopped pecans and shredded coconut.
- Divide the batter between the three prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- To prepare the caramel cream cheese frosting,
- Melt the caramels until smooth; cool slightly.
- in a large bowl cream together the butter until very creamy. Beat in powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add a little heavy cream until you get the right consistency.
- Slowly beat in the caramel. Add more sugar or milk as necessary to get a spreading consistency.
- Arrange 1 cake layer on a cake plate, place about 1 cup of frosting on top of the cake; spread. Top with another cake layer and a frosting layer. Place the last cake layer, bottom side up. Frost the top and sides of the cake.
- Press toasted coconut into the sides of the cake and garnish the top with pecan halves.
Does Italian Cream Cake Need To Be Refrigerated?
Because of the cream cheese frosting, I would store this cake covered, in the refrigerator. I like to allow the cake to come to room temperature before I cut and serve.
I like the frosting to be soft and creamy, but you can serve this cake straight from the fridge,
Can You Freeze Italian Cream Cake?
I would advise baking the cake layers in advance and allowing them to cool. Once the cake has cooled, wrap each layer in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Thaw the cakes in the fridge and prepare the frosting as directed by the recipe.
You can freeze the decorated cake if desired. Assemble the cake and place the cake in the freezer. When fully set, remove the cake and cover the entire cake in plastic wrap and then again in foil.
The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 1 month. Allow the cake to thaw in the fridge when needed,
More Cake Recipes:
- 5 eggs separated
- ½ cup softened butter
- ½ cup shortening
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon caramel extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup shredded coconut (Bob's Red Mill)
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- For The Frosting
- 1 cup softened butter
- 8 oz softened cream cheese
- 11 oz caramels
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 6-7 cups powdered sugar
- Heavy cream
- 1 cup toasted coconut (I used Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flakes)
- Pecans halves
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 9 inch square pans with non-stick spray. Line each pan with parchment paper; spray the parchment paper. Set pans aside.
- Place the egg whites in a bowl and beat with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and shortening. Add sugars and beat until creamy.
- Add egg yolks one at a time until incorporated. Add both extracts.
- In a measuring cup, mix buttermilk and baking soda until dissolved.
- Slowly add milk alternately with the flour until blended. Take care to not over mix the batter.
- Fold in the egg whites just until combined. Carefully add chopped pecans and coconut.
- Divide batter between the prepared pans and bake for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning cakes onto the wire rack to cool completely.
- For the frosting, place unwrapped caramels and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until melted. Allow the caramel to cool slightly.
- Beat together the butter and cream cheese. Slowly add in powdered sugar one cup at a time.
- Add the melted caramel and vanilla.
- Add enough powdered sugar to get a creamy consistency. Add heavy cream if necessary.
- Place one cake layer on your serving plate. Spread with about a cup of frosting.
- Top with a second cake layer and spread with another cup of frosting.
- Place the final layer, top side down and frost the tops and sides of the cake.
- Coat the outside of the cake with toasted coconut. Garnish the top with coconut and pecan halves.
To toast coconut, arrange coconut flakes on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a 350-degree oven, stirring every 5 minutes until the coconut is golden brown, This should take 10-15 minutes. Pay close attention, coconut burns very easily.
Amount Per Serving Calories 2340Total Fat 55gSaturated Fat 29gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 23gCholesterol 169mgSodium 539mgCarbohydrates 466gFiber 3gSugar 436gProtein 10g