Italian Cream Cake Trifles

Jennifer, Bake or Break

Italian Cream Cake is one of my all-time favorite cakes. It’s a fantastic combination of some of my favorite things – pecans, coconut and cream cheese.

This version is a bit different in two respects. First of all, there’s an additional vanilla pudding layer for a little twist on the traditional cake. Secondly, all the ingredients are layered in a jar or serving bowl. Individual desserts are always a crowd-pleasers, and these don’t disappoint.

Depending on what kind of jar or bowl you use for these, you may need to make adjustments in the assembly stage. I used tapered jars that are 2 ¾ inches tall with a 3 7/8-inch opening and roughly a 1-cup capacity.

Don’t be intimidated by the long recipe. Each part is simple to make. You can also make the components over a couple of days to simplify.

Italian Cream Cake Trifles
By Jennifer
Makes 8-10 servings


For the pudding:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cup milk
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake:
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar


To make the pudding:
Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Slowly add about 1/4 cup milk and whisk until smooth. Whisk in egg yolks and remaining milk.

Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until mixture thickens and just starts to bubble.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir constantly while cooking. Continue cooking until mixture thickens (about 5-6 minutes).

Remove pan from heat and add butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

Transfer pudding to a small bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Place pecans and coconut on a baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes, stirring coconut every few minutes as needed to prevent burning. Remove from oven and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Mix in sour cream.

Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 or 4 portions, mixing just until combined. Stir in 1/4 cup each of pecans and coconut. Reserve remaining pecans and coconut for garnish.

Transfer batter to prepared pans, dividing batter evenly between pans. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

To make the frosting:
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and butter until well-blended. Mix in vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar, mixing until smooth.

To assemble the trifles:
Cut cake to fit jars or serving bowls. You can use biscuit or cookie cutters, or just use a knife. Place one layer of cake in the bottom of jar.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons pudding on top of cake layer. You want the pudding layer to be roughly the same thickness as the cake layer. Spread pudding evenly.

Place another cake layer on top of pudding. Repeat if needed to fill jar.

Spread frosting on top layer of cake. Garnish with pecans and coconut. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

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  1. Barb said:

    Thanks, love the recipes.