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Two Sisters, Serial #17 and Italian Cream Cupcakes

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If you haven’t ever had the distinct pleasure of indulging in a piece of Italian cream cake, then you may be looking at the name of this week’s recipe–Italian Cream Cupcakes–and expecting something like a gelato or custard or semifreddo.

And I have to admit that as many times as I’ve enjoyed this wonderful dessert, I’ve never understood the “Italian” or the “cream” in the name. Far as I can tell, there’s nothing Italian or creamy about this cake.

But, as Juliet says, what is in a name? Call this cake anything you want and it will still be out of this world delicious. The richness of the cake (kicked into overdrive by buttermilk) combined with the texture and subtle sweetness of the coconut combined with the slight tanginess of the cream cheese combined with the earthiness and crunch of the pecans–that’s a lot of strong flavors that work together perfectly in these cupcakes.

So check it out. It’s a little break from our fall theme; but once you try it, you’ll understand why. These cupcakes (or the expanded layer-cake version) will become a favorite of yours for any time of year, any occasion–just as it is in our family.

italian cream cupcakes

Italian Cream Cupcakes


1 egg, room temperature, separated

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1/2-1 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

italian cream cupcake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a regular muffin pan with 6 cupcake liners and set aside.

Divide the egg into two separate bowls. Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat into the batter until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the cake batter, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix all of the ingredients until just combined and the batter becomes smooth. Fold in the coconut. Lastly, gently fold in the stiff egg whites.

Divide the batter between the 6 cupcakes liners, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, or until they turned golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven; allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. The cupcakes may sink slightly when cooling–this is ok.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting by beating together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Slowly add the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until a desired consistency and taste is reached. Fold in the pecans and coconut. Divide the frosting between the 6 cupcakes and frost.

Cover and store any leftover frosting or cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 cupcakes.

italian cream minicakes

{Adapted from The Pioneer Woman}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #17 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #17, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #17, text © Jeffrey Anderson


About Elaine

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