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Italian Cream Cake slice on a white dessert plate with strawberry garnish

Italian Cream Cake

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I truly swooned with my first bite of this Italian Cream Cake. Other versions were nice, but this recipe was out of this world!

Three layers of dense vanilla butter cake chock full of coconut were iced with a decadent cream cheese frosting for a spectacular dessert that’s worthy of a celebration! Plus this is a nut free version, but feel free to add some pecans if that’s your preference!

Italian Cream Cake slice on a white dessert plate

Italian Cream Cake

I had my first taste of Italian Cream Cake a few years  back. Tasty, but not memorable. One bite of this latest version and I knew I needed the recipe ASAP. I’m a huge fan of a classic Coconut Cake, but this one was something special.

Was it the absence of nuts, the extremely moist cake or the fluffy cream cheese frosting that sold me? I’d surmise that it was a combination of all three.

This recipe comes from my friend, Sabra, who served it for our dinner club dessert. Full from our gourmet meal, I tried to resist eating the whole slice, when in reality, I had to hold myself back from licking the plate. It was just that exquisite.

Italian Cream Cake

A Dreamy 3 Layer Coconut Cake

I find that buttermilk is one of the secrets to an outrageously moist and tender cake. These Coconut Cupcakes have been a perennial favorite of mine, and I swear using buttermilk is key to their deliciousness.  Between the addition of buttermilk and alternately adding wet and dry ingredients, practically guarantees a spectacular dessert. Plus 3 layer cakes just can’t help but be inpressive!

I took this to my 3 layer coconut cake to my book club dinner last week and my girlfriends responded with the same swoons that I had with my initial taste. I upped the ante and made a batch and a half of the frosting (recipe reflects a single batch), so this made an extremely rich cake even more decadent. With a luscious batter full of coconut and two layers of cream cheese buttercream, this is one show-stopper of a cake.

This is a nut-free Italian Cream Cake but you can add a cup of chopped, toasted pecans to the batter if that’s your jam. I’d also press 1/2 cup of pecans into the frosting to garnish and give a preview of what’s inside the sliced cake.

A sprinkling of coconut over the top was a hint to what was beneath the frosting. Bill steered clear of the leftovers I brought home. Coconut is just not his thing! But if it is your thing, I guarantee you will adore this Italian Cream Cake.

Italian Cream Cake slice on a white dessert plate with strawberry garnish

A Special Cake for a Birthday Celebration Menu

Today is the birthday of a dear blogger friend, Isabel. Creator of the blog Family Foodie, she is also the brainchild of the wildly successful Sunday Supper Movement. This busy lady needs some pampering on her big day.

Along with a few of my favorite bloggers, we are throwing her a surprise birthday bash. She typically shares savory, dinner-worthy recipes, often with a Portuguese flair, but I delved deep into the Family Foodie archives and found a delectable Carrot Pineapple Cake. And her mom, Vo-Vo, has a very famous Cheesecake recipe. Be still my heart. 

Italian Cream Cake pin

More Coconut Recipes You’ll Love:

This Coconut Cream Pie Dip from Belly Full is an easy, yummy way to get your coconut fix, this Coconut Cheesecake Bars Recipe from Crunchy Creamy Sweet provides relief for my coconut and cheesecake cravings, and this Coconut Cream Lush from Amanda’s Cookin’ is calling my name!

Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake

A spectacular three layer coconut cake with fluffy cream cheese frosting

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 12 servings


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour, sifted (measure, then sift)
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut (I used angel flake)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For frosting::

  • 1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
  • 8 ounces (1 brick) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped, optional (I did not use)
  • Milk, to thin frosting
  • Coconut, to garnish, if desired


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease and flour 3 8-inch baking pans or spray with flour and oil baking spray like Baker's Joy. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together sugar, butter and shortening. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Dissolve baking soda in the buttermilk and add alternately with flour to batter. Add coconut and mix to combine.
  3. Beat egg whites till stiff. Fold into batter, then add vanilla.
  4. Divide batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or till toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans to wire racks to finish cooling.
  6. Make frosting. Mix butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and nuts, if using. Drizzle in a little milk till frosting is a good spreading consistency. Frost between layers. Sprinkle top with more coconut, if desired.


Total time does not include cooling time.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 834 Total Fat: 36g Saturated Fat: 17g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 16g Cholesterol: 124mg Sodium: 415mg Carbohydrates: 119g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 98g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 12g
Below are a few of my favorite coconut recipes from the blog:

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting on a silver tray

Coconut Cupcakes

I’ve been making these Barefoot Contessa coconut cupcakes for years. The cream cheese frosting pushes these over the top. Be prepared to go back for seconds!Pistachio Coconut Granola in a white cereal bowl

Pistachio Coconut Granola

I love adding coconut to my granola recipe. It adds a delicious sweetness and texture to one of my favorite breakfast dishes. I serve with cold milk and banana slices.

3 white chocolate coconut truffles on a small white plate

White Chocolate Coconut Truffles

With only FOUR ingredients, there’s no excuse not to whip up these coconut truffles! So easy and decadent!

A slice of Coconut Crusted Chocolate Ganache Pie on a white plate with a red handled fork

Coconut Crusted Chocolate Ganache Pie

Another fabulous coconut dessert with only 4 ingredients! And it’s PIE!! Pie with an impossible to resist chocolate ganache filling.

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