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Easy Italian Cream Cake

This recipe was passed onto me by my friend, Marina C., whom I affectionately refer to as my “Foodie Mama,” because she is my biggest baking inspiration.  She has won nearly 300 ribbons at county & state fairs for her food, (from burritos to cookies & cakes to entire meals), her recipes & food-related interviews have been published in Bon Appetit, Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Taste of Home, Readers Digest, The Blue Ribbon Gazette, several newspapers, and The Wall Street Journal. She has been a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off, has appeared on the Home Show and is currently a field editor for Taste of Home magazine. Whew! What a resume!

She has shared many of her award-winning recipes with me and is very generous, so you can find many of them on this site (click here to see them all) because she never minds me posting them. As far as I know, this one isn’t a literal winner but it really won my family over!

When I asked my mom what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday this year, I expected her to request her favorite Mocha Crunch Cake, but instead she said, “Surprise me!”  I guess I’ve been baking cakes long enough that she knows she can trust my judgement.  (And if you knew my Mom, you’d know that’s a big compliment. She doesn’t trust anyone’s judgement–lol.) With Marina’s help, I didn’t let her down.

This Italian Cream Cake is a little different from other recipes in that it starts with a mix and it contains maraschino cherries, which is unusual.  The combination of nuts, coconut and cherries with the soft, creamy frosting made me feel like I was eating some sort of ice cream sundae in cake form!  I made the mistake of serving it cold and while everyone liked it (my Mom could NOT stop gushing over how wonderful it was), I took a piece home and ate it at room temperature the next day and found it to be 100 times better.  When cold, the texture is much more dense and the frosting is a little hard.  At room temperature, it’s light and the frosting is creamy and it’s divine.

I couldn’t find frozen coconut so I shredded my own, which was a chore but I was able to use the leftover in a Mounds Cake.


Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (18.25 oz) butter cake mix
5 egg yolks
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. butter, softened
½ c. chopped maraschino cherries
¼ cup maraschino cherry syrup
1 c. fresh frozen coconut, thawed
1 c. chopped pecans

1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. Crisco
1 box (1 lb) powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk (I omitted)
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 8″ or 9″ cake pans and set aside.

Mix cake mix with rest of ingredients and mix well.  Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare the Cream Cheese Icing.  Beat the cream cheese, butter and vegetable shortening until smooth.  Beat in the powdered sugar, milk & vanilla until well blended.  When the cake is completely cool, spread 1/3 of the icing over one cake layer, place the other on top and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides.  Sprinkle top of cake with the ¾ cup of pecans (I opted to press them into the sides and use drained cherries to decorate the top.) Cover cake in air-tight container and refrigerate overnight, or longer, to allow the flavors to meld.  Remove from fridge at least two hours before serving; serve at room temperature.  It will keep several days at room temperature and probably up to five in the fridge.

Recipe courtesy of Marina C.

Mom with her beloved cake!


About Veronica

I have a kitchen addiction and love to collect & share recipes. My passion is baking but I love to cook as well. The only thing I don't like to do in the kitchen is wash dishes, but my husband generally does them for me in exchange for his dinner.

34 responses »

  1. Aw, Veronica this cake is beautiful! I bet your mom really enjoyed this cake. Girl, you look like your mom. Very sweet post! I think i will make this cake it sure does look good. Thanks for the post!
    ~Southern Cookbook


    • Mom was ecstatic about this cake. I prefer light, plain cakes without mix-ins, but this was a good one and I didn’t have a problem eating a huge piece. :) It reminds me of a modern fruitcake without any of the yuckiness.


  2. WOW, i don’t even know where to start!! I hope you have given Marina the link to this, i can see her blushing now!!
    She is wonderful, isn’t she, even with all of her accomplishments in life, she is a down to earth, beautiful person. :)

    The cake, well…. i have never had a cake with mix ins, but reading the ingredients, i might just try it!!
    Happy b-day to your mom.


  3. This cake looks wonderful! I think I will be trying it at my next family gathering.

    Italian food is so sweeeeet!


  4. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful friend like Veronica. What a wonderful friend, and daughter you are..Your mom and I are very lucky!! The cake looks wonderful.


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  8. I am soo in agreement with you V, Marina is my mentor also. I remember this from MySpace and it looks awesome, you certainly did it justice!!


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  22. I found this recipe on Pinterest and I am so thankful you posted it! This is a recipe that my sister and I loved from years ago. Our Mom passed away, we lost touch (thru divorce) of the people who made it in our family and could never find this version, like our version, of the recipe. There are so many others out there! I’m happy to say, this Sunday, I am making this cake for my sister’s birthday. Thanks again for posting it back in 2010.


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  25. I found this recipe on pinterest and I have to say it is my go to recipe for a Italian crème cake. This cake is absolutely fantastic and my family loves it! Will be making it again tonight for our Christmas Eve dinner. Thank you for sharing!


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  27. This looks so gooood! Pinning now!



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