leave the gun, take the cannoli (Italian cream cake)

I LOVE birthdays. Whenever I hear someone has a birthday coming up, I have a compulsive need to bake a cake. This one does not disappoint. The birthday girl requested an Italian cream cake, which I had never made, so I was excited to do some research and choose a recipe. Most Italian cream cakes call for shortening and I try to avoid it at all costs. I’d much rather have butter, so I chose the following recipe.

This is a decadent, special occasion cake, but worth the time. Toasting the coconut brings out the flavor and makes the perfect topping. Toast the coconut in a pan over low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes until it is lightly brown. Also, I always line my cake pans with wax paper by tracing the bottom of the pan with pencil and cutting out three round liners.


Italian Cream cake

Courtesy of Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen


2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 sticks butter, softened

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp pure almond extract

5 large eggs

1 cup whole buttermilk

14 oz package sweetened flaked coconut, divided

1 1/2 cup pecan pieces toasted, divided


2 [8] oz cream cheese, softened

2 sticks butter, softened

2 lb powdered sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp pure almond extract

reserved coconut, toasted

1/2 cup reserved toasted pecans


Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Butter and flour 3 [9] inch round cake pans or spray with baking spray. Set aside.  Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pure vanilla and almond extracts.  Beat until creamy and light beige in color.  Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.  Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk.  After all has been added, increase the mixer speed and beat until fully combined.

Mix in half of the coconut and 1 cup of toasted pecans by hand. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean.  Cool completely on a cooling rack.

To make the frosting:

Cream together the cream cheese and butter until light, fluffy and pale yellow in color.  Add the vanilla.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until creamy and smooth. Frost between each layer of the cake and top with pecans before adding the next layer.  Add the final layer and frost the top and sides.  Finish the sides with toasted coconut.  photo 3

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