Italian Cream Cake, a dessert that marries indulgence with exquisite flavors, is a delightful surprise born in the southern United States. Despite its name, which might suggest European roots, the cake’s origins lie closer to home. The ‘Italian’ in its name is thought to stem from the use of cream cheese, which was once considered an exotic, Italian ingredient in certain American circles. This cake has since evolved into a staple for celebrations like weddings, birthdays, and festive holidays, merging the lightness of sponge cake with the opulence of cream cheese frosting. The addition of toasted pecans and coconut flakes enhances its texture, creating a dessert that’s as comforting as it is luxurious.
Serving Italian Cream Cake: Elegance in Simplicity
When presenting this cake, minimalism allows its rich flavors to take center stage. A dusting of powdered sugar can elevate its elegance, while a robust espresso or cappuccino cuts through the richness, creating a perfect harmony of flavors. For a contrasting touch, consider serving it with fresh berries or a scoop of vanilla gelato.
Italian Cream Cake Recipe
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)
Cream cheese frosting ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
Additional chopped pecans and flaked coconut for garnish
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Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
Cream 1/2 cup butter and shortening until light. Add granulated sugar and beat well.
Add egg yolks one at a time, then 1 tablespoon vanilla. Sift flour and baking soda, add alternately with buttermilk. Stir in coconut and pecans.
Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into the batter.
Divide batter among pans, bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then on wire racks.
For frosting: Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar.
Frost cooled cake layers, sides, and top.
Garnish with pecans and coconut.