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Italian Cream Cake Trifle

  • Author: Erin Browne


  • Italian Cream Cake
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Cheesecake Pudding
  • 2 1/3 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 large eggs yolks
  • 12 oz cream cheese, room temperature (1 and 1/2 blocks)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • Layers and Toppings
  • 1 8oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed (Cool Whip or Tru Whip) * see notes
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted


  1. Make The Cake
  2. Lightly grease a 9" cake pan and preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and buttermilk and mix until a just a few streaks of flour remain. Gently fold in the coconut and pecans (this will finish incorporating the flour) and be careful not to overmix. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Your oven may vary, so start checking the cake early and be careful not to overbake. Set aside to cool.
  3. Make The Pudding
  4. In a medium saucepan, add the milk, heavy cream, lemon zest, salt, and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Give it a stir and bring to a simmer while stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch and remaining 1/2cup of sugar in a bowl. Mix in the egg yolks and stir until a thick paste is formed. Temper the egg mixture by pouring about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg paste and stir well, and then pour into the saucepan and stir until fully combined. Continue heating and stirring until the pudding reaches about 170 degrees and mixture thickens with bubbles breaking on the surface - this should take about 8 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and whisk in the room temperature cream cheese, then add the vanilla. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps. Transfer the pudding into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap with the plastic actually touching the surface of the pudding, and chill for several hours.
  6. Assemble The Trifle
  7. If your pecans and coconut are not toasted, preheat oven to 325F and spread the coconuts and pecans onto a baking sheet. Toast until coconut is browned and pecans are fragrant, using a spatula to stir frequently. Check often to avoid burning the coconut.
  8. Break half of the cake into pieces and layer into the bottom of a large trifle bowl. Layer with half of the whipped topping, pudding, and then top with half of the toasted coconuts and pecans. Repeat the layers with remaining ingredients, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to serve. I find that trifles taste the best when allowed to sit for a bit in the fridge (overnight is best!).


* I like to use Tru Whip in my trifles as it has the same stability as Cool Whip but with more natural ingredients. Cool Whip will work exactly the same. Alternatively, you can choose to use a homemade stabilized whipped cream in your layers, but know that the trifle's texture won't maintain itself as well when eating the leftovers.

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