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Coconut Italian Cream Cake

I’d never tasted an Italian cream cake before moving to Colorado. Now I bake for people in the area, and this beauty is one of my most requested treats. —Ann Bush, Colorado City, Colorado
  • Total Time
    Prep: 50 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    16 servings


  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-2/3 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1-1/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5-2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut, optional


  • Place egg whites in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of three greased 9-in. round baking pans with parchment; grease paper.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Fold in coconut and pecans.
  • With clean beaters, beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold into batter. Transfer to prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
  • For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar and enough cream to reach spreading consistency. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with pecans and, if desired, coconut. Refrigerate leftovers.
Editor's Note: To toast pecans and coconut, spread each, one at a time, in a 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 667 calories, 36g fat (18g saturated fat), 128mg cholesterol, 402mg sodium, 82g carbohydrate (68g sugars, 2g fiber), 7g protein.

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Average Rating:
  • bernerlover
    Aug 22, 2020

    this cake was excellent! Only change I made was I made it in a 13x9 pan. I made 2/3 of the frosting. I did add the nuts and coconut to top. Everyone loved this cake and I will definitely make again, soon.

  • Elliot
    Jul 6, 2020

    Amazing cake. I had to adjust the recipe for high altitude

  • Sue
    Jun 17, 2020

    Awesome cake! Did not even use all of the frosting. No ice cream necessary! Definitely will make this again!

  • C-Ro
    May 26, 2020

    Delicious cake and frosting--didn't change a thing, and I liked the toasted coconut on top. It is rather time consuming and complex to make, so I'll save this for special occasions only!

  • Nilda
    Feb 13, 2020

    I have several family members who love Italian Cream Cake, this has been my to go recipe every time they request it. I was wondering if this same recipe could be converted to a Bundt cake. I bake for fun and relaxation not an expert but I think is doable just less cake batter (maybe). Any suggestions?

  • Marvielc
    Dec 3, 2018

    I have been making this cake for over 30 years, got the recipe many years ago from my aunt. My husband does not like coconut so I omit that from the recipe all together and it is a wonderful cake. The secret is in folding the stiff egg whites in with over folding and breaking them down too much or the cake will be very dense. Use whole fat buttermilk not low fat.

  • CarsolDee
    Dec 3, 2018

    I originally made this cake 46 years ago. Then it was just called “Italian Cream Cake.” It became my family’s celebration cake. They lived it so much they wanted it for any special occasion. The only difference in the recipe that I noticed was the heavy cream in the frosting recipe, which I think I’ll try. If you’ve never made this cake, you’ve got to try it. It’s great.

  • forest4me
    Mar 29, 2018

    Way too much coconut for me. The icing is delicious. If I make it again I would probably just make a regular cake and use the icing.

  • Jane
    Dec 18, 2017

    One of my favorite cakes! I only do two layers, not three. I also add a tsp of butter flavoring as well as vanilla. So creamy and delicious.

  • Tonya
    Dec 18, 2017

    I stopped making this when I could no longer find canned coconut.