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Individual Italian Cream Cake Trifles

Individual Italian Cream Cake Trifle on a lace doily

I’ve really resisted the whole desserts-in-jars thing. I’m not sure why exactly. I guess I just never got that excited about them. But, I spied some beautiful Weck jars at Fishs Eddy (my favorite store in all of NYC) and felt like I just had to have them.

With limited storage at home, I try to buy things only when I can think of a specific place for storage or when I can justify that I really need it. You know, for the sake of this blog. How unselfish of me, right?

The classic cake gets deconstructed in these beautiful and delicious Individual Italian Cream Cake Trifles. - Bake or Break

So, as I headed home with my inevitable purchase, I began thinking of a good use for them. Italian Cream Cake came to mind pretty quickly. I adore Italian Cream Cake. If you are familiar with some of my favorite dessert ingredients, that’s probably not a surprise. Pecans, coconut, and cream cheese make for a pretty perfect dessert in my book. I’ve seen lots of deconstructed desserts layered in jars, but I wanted to change it up a bit to make it seem more appropriate for a jar versus just making the dessert in the traditional way.

I decided to add another element to the traditional cake by layering in homemade vanilla pudding. Pudding doesn’t show up all that much on a baking blog, but I am a huge fan of homemade pudding. While I might use the boxed stuff as an ingredient every once in a while, you cannot beat the deliciousness of the homemade version.

That awesome vanilla pudding is layered between layers of a cake that’s full of coconut and pecans. Then, it’s all topped off with cream cheese frosting. The total package is really quite good. I love the added flavor and richness from the pudding.

While the recipe appears a bit long, it’s not difficult at all. For efficiency’s sake, I’d suggest making the pudding a day in advance, as it needs to chill for a bit anyway. Depending on the jar or bowl you use, you may need to make some adjustments to assembly. My Weck jars are 2 & 3/4” tall with a 3 & 7/8” opening and roughly a 1-cup capacity.

As you can see, I overfilled my jars for aesthetic purposes. If you’re making these ahead of time, keep in mind that you’ll need to cover them. You can make them so that they are just shy of the total depth of the jar, or just leave off the frosting until you’re ready to serve.

Individual Italian Cream Cake Trifles

Yield 8 to 10 trifles
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 35 minutes

The classic cake gets deconstructed in these beautiful and delicious Individual Italian Cream Cake Trifles.

Individual Italian Cream Cake Trifle on a lace doily


For the pudding:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 & 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the pudding:

  1. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Slowly add about 1/4 cup milk and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the egg yolks and the remaining milk.
  2. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture thickens and just starts to bubble.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir constantly while cooking. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens (about 5-6 minutes).
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth.
  5. Transfer the pudding to a small bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Place the pecans and coconut on a baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes, stirring the coconut every few minutes as needed to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Mix in the sour cream.
  5. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 or 4 portions, mixing just until combined. Stir in 1/4 cup each of pecans and coconut. Reserve the remaining pecans and coconut for garnish.
  6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans, dividing batter evenly between pans. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

To make the frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and butter until well-blended. Mix in the vanilla.
  2. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, mixing until smooth.

To assemble the trifles:

  1. Cut the cake to fit the jars or serving bowls. You can use biscuit or cookie cutters, or just use a knife. Place one layer of cake in the bottom of jar.
  2. Spoon about 3 tablespoons pudding on top of cake layer, making the pudding layer about the same thickness as the cake. Spread the pudding evenly.
  3. Place another cake layer on top of the pudding. Repeat if needed to fill jar.
  4. Spread the frosting on the top layer of cake. Garnish with the remaining pecans and coconut. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Show off your baking masterpiece!

Snap a pic, tag @bakeorbreak, and use #bakeorbreak on Instagram. Can't wait to see your creation!

This recipe was developed for Go Bold with Butter, where I am a paid contributor.

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    15 Comments on “Individual Italian Cream Cake Trifles”

  1. This trifle looks divine!!!!!

  2. Those Weck jars are just darling. I ran into some at Crate and Barrel some time back and loved them. I think individual size desserts are great. Instant portion control! Especially when it’s something as delicious as this. I’d probably try to have two. lol

  3. Love this trifle! I have also been a little hesitant on the jar dessert trend because most of the time it’s just a presentation method and not cooked in it, but it really is fun and can make things easier when traveling with dessert!

  4. This is the most perfect trifle ever!!!!! Totally making this!

  5. I love that store too! I just went this week and came home with the cutest ice cream dishes… I love the dessert in jars thing, I can bring tasty things to work! This cream cake looks delicious.

  6. I’m usually so so about jar desserts too, but I loooove the way this sounds!

  7. Mmm! These sound SO good. I love jar desserts, and trifles are fab!

  8. Oh yum! I love trifles, these are so cute!

  9. I grew up eating Italian cream cake one very birthday so it holds a lot of good memories for me! Unfortunately there just aren’t enough occasions in my life that warrant making a layer cake..but how perfect to just layer all of the cake components in a jar!

  10. Looks so yummy, and I love the little jars. Wish we had a store that sold these kind of things where I live. I’ve never had a trifle–but I wish I could try one of these!

  11. These look amazing – can’t wait to try them!!

  12. I’ve never been crazy about jarred desserts either, but this would totally change my mind! These little cakes look just divine.

  13. I love trifles and this one looks perfect!

  14. I made this yesterday. My boyfriend said it made him lose concentration. That is the best review ever, from the pickiest eater ever. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I think I might make these using some large goblet style glasses and just start with pudding on bottom to where the glass starts to widen, then my first cake layer at that widest part.

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