Friday, January 23, 2015

Italian Cream Cake

Many moons ago I worked in an absolutely wonderful coffee shop while attending college.  I loved working there;  I loved my coworkers, I loved the owners, I loved the customers, I loved the beverages and even the food.  Each day we had a cake of the day.  It would be a beautiful cake displayed on a pedestal cake stand and when it was gone, it was gone.  Whenever I would open the shop up for the day, you can guarantee that I had a slice of the cake du jour for breakfast.  After all, it displayed best with 1 slice missing so that the customers could see the luscious, tender inside of the cake.  Am I right, or am I right?  It really was  a service ;)  

Of all the cakes served, my favorite was the Italian Cream Cake.  It's mild flavor of butter and vanilla mixed with shredded coconut, cherries, cream cheese and nuts made for a party of absolute delight on my palate.  No one ingredient out-shined the other. It was just soooooooo good.  

And the other day, I woke up and thought to myself, "Self, I could really go for some Italian Cream Cake from Moxie."  And then it began.  I don't live in that state any more, so I had to find a recipe to replicate it.  I think the flavor of this recipe nailed it.  However, I would have like the texture to have been a teensy bit air-ier.  Is that even a word?  Basically, it wasn't as fluffy as I would have liked.  So, I will likely make this again and experiment a bit.  In the meantime, try this version. I am addicted.

Italian Cream Cake

1/2 Cup Butter, Softened
1/2 Cup Shortening
2 Cups Sugar
5 Large Eggs, Separated and Room Temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Flaked Coconut
1 10 oz Jar of Maraschino Cherries

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8-oz Brick of Cream Cheese
1 Pound Powdered Sugar (approximately 4-5 Cups)
1/2 Cup Butter (1 Stick)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup Toasted Nut of Choice (Walnuts, Pecans or Hazelnuts)

Cake Directions:
Step 1:  Prepare your cake pan of choice with grease and flour.  Set aside and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2:  Drain the Maraschino cherries and reserve the juice for a later date (aka - add it to a cola for a cherry cola!).  Dry the cherries on a paper towel - they need to be super dry.  At this point, you can either leave them whole or cut them in 1/2.  I prefer to cut each on in half. Next, in a small bowl add 1 TB of flour.  Add the cherries and stir to coat; set aside.

Step 3:  In a bowl, stir together flour and baking soda; set aside.

Step 4:  In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar, shortening and butter until well combined.   Add the egg yolks and vanilla; beat until combined. Alternately, add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter/sugar mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Gently fold in coconut.

Step 5:  In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight up). Fold about one-third of the egg whites into cake batter.  Then, fold in the remaining whites. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the cherries over the top of the batter (they will sink to the middles while baking).

Step 6:  If using a 9x13, bake about 35 - 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely before frosting it.

Frosting Directions:
Step 1:  In a large mixer bowl, add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla.  Beat until well combined.  Add a 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and beat until well combined.  Add in another 1/2 cup and beat again until well combined.  Continue doing this until all the powdered sugar is added and the frosting is rich and creamy.

To Assemble:
Frost the cooled caked with the Cream Cheese Frosting.  Sprinkle with toasted nut of choice (I used hazelnuts).  Enjoy!  

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