Wednesday, November 4, 2009

(Chocolate) Italian Cream Cake

So, at our rehearsal dinner, we had Italian Cream Cake...which was absolutely delicious. I've been wanting to make it since, but haven't really wanted to make an entire cake from scratch for just John and myself. But, the opportunity presented itself this week, because PDC (Phi Delta Chi, the Pharmacy Fraternity I've joined) had a potluck "Thanksgiving Dinner." So, I decided to make this as one of the desserts. It turned out pretty well--people seem to like it. Next time I'll have to make Chocolate Italian Cream Cake. Anyways...
You can find the recipe for this online and in many cookbooks--it's in at least 3 of mine, including the PDC cookbook entitled "Cooking Against Cancer" (which, please let me know if you want one! It has lots of great recipes, and $5 of the $15 the book costs is being dedicated to the Breast Cancer Foundation). As usual, the recipe is listed below--with some modifications/additions I have added that I think will help make it easier to make. ALSO, you can easily make a chocolate version of this. To do so, use the ingredients (italicized in parenthesis)


For the Cake:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened and cut into pieces (to help it mix better)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • (1/2 cup cocoa powder)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of finely chopped nuts*
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
For the Icing:
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened and cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • (1/2 cup cocoa powder)
  • 1 box confectioner's sugar
  • 1 cup of finely chopped nuts*
  • 1-2 cups chopped nuts*
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
*Typically, people use pecans or walnuts. I bought a bag containing 4 cups of walnut halves and pieces. I then put about 2 cups of these in a food processor (a blender would probably work to), to get them finely chopped. The other 2 cups I saved and put on top of the cake at the very end.

Also, a cake board to put under the cake (when done) so it won't slide, would be good to have. Here is how to make one (for cardboard, I just used part of an old box)


For the Cake:

Prep the ingredients
  • A while before you start cooking (probably 4-8 hours), take out the butter and the cream cheese from the fridge, and let sit at room temperature so it can soften. Cut each into pieces to help mixing. Then, once ready to begin:
  • Put around 2 cups of nut pieces in food processor/blender, and chop till fine.
  • Separate eggs (put yolks in one bowl, whites in another)
  • Mix together flour, cocoa, and baking soda, set aside
Make the Batter
  1. Preheat oven to 350, and grease and flour three 9" cake pans
  2. Cream butter, sugar, and oil till smooth (I put them in my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, and let it mix them till smooth for me)
  3. Add egg yolks to mixture (continue mixing)
  4. Add flour/baking soda mix, alternating with buttermilk (continue mixing)
  5. Add vanilla, 1 cup of the finely chopped nuts, and coconut a little bit at a time (continue mixing)
  6. Beat egg whites in separate bowl (I used my hand mixer) and then fold in
  7. Separate cake into the 3 cake pans, and then bake for 25-30 minutes
  8. Take cakes out, and let cool: Leave cakes in pans for 10 minutes after taking out of oven, then flip them out onto wire racks, and let cool to room temp. Once at room temp, pop in freezer for 10 minutes before icing (this will prevent a bunch of crumbs from coming off when you ice it). While cakes are cooling, make icing:

For the Icing:
  1. Mix together icing ingredients. I would not recommend using a hand mixer--when I tried to, the sugar went everywhere. I ended up using the Kitchenaid mixer, and it did much better. If you don't have one...I guess you can mix it by hand, but it'll probably take a while. It takes some force/speed to get all the ingredients to mix together well
  2. Once cake cooled (see above), spread icing on layers and sides of cooled cake. Apply an "initial" coat all around the cake (its fine if it looks awful), then stick the cake in the freezer for 5 mins. Then take out, and apply the final coat of icing to the cake. By doing this, it will help prevent crumbs from appearing in the icing.
  3. Put the remaining chopped (not finely) nuts on top of the cake for decoration (and taste too, of course)
  4. Put cake on cake board, then on cake stand. Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate!

Oh, and I would like to add that while I had fun making this did take around 3 hours to get everything done, so I wouldn't recommend making it when you don't have much free time.


  1. Holly! I am trying to lose weight! I'm avoiding reading this posting for now, but I did "star" it in Google Reader for future reference. I'm gonna give this a shot over Christmas break.

  2. I'm trying to lose weight too...but since I made it for a crowd, I justified it to myself.

    I've also found a recipe for a CHOCOLATE Italian Cream Cake, which sounds heavenly, so if this turns out well, I'll have to make the Chocolate one next.