A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a birthday lunch for my younger daughter at Bucca di Beppo restaurant in Cincinnati. I ordered three of their (large) desserts for the six of us to share: cheesecake, cannoli and Italian Cream Cake. I expected the Italian Cream Cake to be the one I’m familiar with that has pecans, coconut and a cream cheese frosting. The cake here was light-textured with a mascarpone/cream cheese filling/frosting and a drizzle of raspberry sauce. It seemed to have a very light touch of lemon either in the cake or in the filling.
It was delicious but especially memorable because my 15-year-old grandson loved it so much. He said he was in heaven when he tasted a piece of this cake – this from a boy who will eat no kind of pie except apple.
I knew I had to try to duplicate the cake. I could find no copycat recipes and spent time looking through recipes for cream cakes, mascarpone filling and raspberry puree to come to this adaptation.
Italian Cream Cake with Raspberry Puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-½ cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Grease and flour a 9-inch square cake pan or round pie pan. I used a vintage tube pan and increased the baking time about 10 minutes.
In a large mixer bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla, beating well.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture alternately with the whipping cream to the egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour and beating well after each addition.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Place on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto a rack. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, then lift the cake pan off and allow the cake to cool completely.
When cake is completely cool, separate into layers by placing cake on a piece of parchment paper and inserting toothpicks at the midpoint of the sides of the cake, leaving 3 inches or so between toothpicks.
Resting a serrated knife on the toothpicks, carefully slice around the cake. Go around a second time cutting toward the center until cake has been cut in two.
Place the bottom of the cake on the serving cake plate.
1-½ cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar, divided
8 oz. mascarpone cheese at room temperature
½ tsp. lemon extract
In the large bowl of a mixer and using whisk attachment, beat whipping cream and 1/3 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. (Don’t whip too long to form butter.)
In a separate bowl with whisk attachment, beat mascarpone cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and lemon extract until creamy and smooth.
Fold the mascarpone mixture into the whipped cream.
Spoon the mascarpone filling generously on the top of the layer on the plate. This makes a lot of filling, so you can be generous.
Place the top layer, cut surface up, on the bottom layer and continue to spoon filling on the top of cake.
If there is filling left over, it can be placed in a bowl and served along with the cake or refrigerated in a covered container to use as topping on pudding, Jello, etc. The mascarpone will keep the whipped cream stabilized for about a week.
Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve and refrigerate any leftovers.
Serve with just a drizzle of raspberry puree.
Two 12-oz bags frozen unsweetened raspberries
2-4 Tblsp. granulated sugar (to taste)
Remove berries from bag and allow to defrost in a strainer over a bowl for 6-8 hours (or overnight). Microwaving them will take away some of the flavor.
Press with a wooden spoon and then force through a fine sieve to remove seeds. I used a food mill first and then pressed through a large fine sieve.
Stir in the granulated sugar, cover and refrigerate. I like to remove the puree at dinner time and let it set at room temperature until dessert is served. This makes about 1-½ cups of puree. Place in a pretty pitcher to drizzle over the cream cake.
The puree is very strong-flavored and intense, so a drizzle is just right to complement the cake and filling. Six to eight servings.
The cake was delicious, although not exactly like Bucca di Beppo’s, but the important thing was that my grandson loved it just as much and asked to take some home with him – I sent him off with the remaining half-cake.