Furthering the quest of my most unloved desserts, Italian Cream Cake is finally having it's day in the sun. I can't really blame the cake so much as the 1/2-inch thick cream cheese icing. I don't know who invented cream cheese icing, but I bet it was someone south of the Mason-Dixon line. I just hope it wasn't anyone in Texas.
To begin with, Italian Cream Cake has about as much to do with Italy as an American turkey has to do with the country of Turkey. Trying to trace the origins of this cake has proved fruitless. There seems to be a trail of cake dating back to the late 1800's. It has surfaced in many forms such as Delmonico Cake (nuts and coconut on frosting) and Hummingbird Cake (the addition of fruit to the cake batter).
The best thing about this cake is that the recipe calls for an enormous amount of batter; thus yielding a very large cake that is perfect for a crowd. Unable to let this cake rest in mediocrity any longer, I have updated it to something I find much more palatable. Beware, the recipe has lots of steps and is time consuming. The reward is that you'll end up with a great looking cake that is much tastier than your run-of-the-mill Italian Cream Cake.
Toast pecan halves at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool and chop in food processor until finely chopped. Stop if the nuts begin to clump together. You want them the consistency of a coarse grained flour. Set aside.
1 cup pecan halves
In the food processor, chop coconut until finely chopped. Set aside.
2 cups shredded coconut
In the food processor, chop chocolate until small bits remain. Do not run too long or it will begin to melt.
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Toss with flour and set aside.
1 tablespoon flour
Toast coconut on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes. Watch carefully, as it browns rapidly. Set aside to cool.
2/3 cup shredded coconut (This should be what is left of a 7 ounce bag)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
Beat for 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat one minute after each addition.
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Then add dry ingredients.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine and add:
8 ounces sour cream
Beat until smooth and stir in:
2 cups toasted pecans, processed
2 cups coconut, processed
1 cup dark chocolate chips, processed
Grease three 8 inch square pans with straight sides and line the bottom of each pan with a piece of waxed paper. Grease the top of that, too. (I used disposable pans.) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. After 10 minutes, remove from pan and peel off waxed paper from the bottom of the cakes. Allow to cool completely.
Melt white chocolate in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until melted and set aside to cool.
4 ounces white chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
This takes about 5 minutes to beat until stiff. I think the corn syrup slows down the process, but eventually, it will thicken. Place whipped cream in refrigerator until needed.
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled
Beat until smooth. Add:
12 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat 5 minutes. All the brown sugar will be dissolved and the mixture will be very smooth. Fold in the whipped cream mixture. Place a generous amount of the icing between each layer of the cake and top cake and sides with remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top of the frosted cake with the toasted coconut. Store in refrigerator.
The bandana and horseshoe platter is due to the fact that the only operating kitchen I have is at the ranch. I can't wait until the remodel is finished!