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Italian Cream Tart

Italian Cream Tart is an irresistible combination of coconut, pecans, and cream cheese. This is the kind of dessert that becomes an instant favorite!

slice of Italian Cream Tart on a white plate

Italian Cream Tart

I recently discovered that I am unable to sleep on an overnight flight. I made this discovery on a 6-ish hour flight. Ugh. Trying to keep yourself entertained while everyone around you sleeps can be a bit of a challenge. My iPad was a lifesaver, though, with TV shows, books, mindless games, and magazines.

During my magazine browsing stage, I happened upon a recipe for Italian Cream Tart. I am a huge fan of Italian Cream desserts. It is strongly my opinion that anything with coconut, pecans, and cream cheese has to be good.

Italian Cream Tart topped with toasted coconut

The crust is a standard cookie crust, but it is even better than normal because it’s made with one of my favorite store-bought cookies, Pecan Sandies. Those nutty shortbread lend themselves perfectly to a cookie crust. The nutty flavor is exactly the perfect complement to the rest of this tart.

Tips for Success

  • Measure accurately. Use a kitchen scale to measure by weight if possible.
  • Bring the cream cheese to room temperature. That will allow it to mix more smoothly.
  • Be sure to use cream of coconut. There are several coconut products with similar names. Cream of coconut is a sweetened and thick, with a similar consistency to sweetened condensed milk.
  • Toast the coconut. Spread the coconut in a single layer on a lined, rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes, or until toasted. See How to Toast Coconut for more details.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Tightly covered, this tart should keep for several days in the refrigerator.
Italian Cream Tart served on a white plate

The filling incorporates the other two major components of Italian Cream desserts (coconut and cream cheese) along with some mascarpone and sour cream to create amazing flavor and texture. It’s nicely sweet with a good tangy kick to make it pretty much irresistible.

Really, I know that I can’t adequately describe this Italian Cream Tart in a way that does it justice. It is just so amazingly good, from its flavor to its texture. I wouldn’t want to set the precedent of sleepless nights to find fabulous recipes, but it was totally worth it for this one.

Find more chilled pies in the Recipe Index.

Italian Cream Tart

Yield 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 39 minutes

Coconut, pecans, and cream cheese are an irresistible tasty trio in this almost-no-bake Italian Cream Tart.

slice of Italian Cream Tart on a white plate


For the crust:

  • 1 package (11.3 ounces/320g) Pecan Sandies or other pecan shortbread cookies
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces (226g) mascarpone cheese
  • 2/3 cup (151g) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream of coconut*
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (21g) sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • chopped toasted pecans and toasted coconut, for garnish


To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the cookies in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the cookies form fine crumbs.
  3. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl. Add the melted butter, and stir until thoroughly combined. Press the crust mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  4. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool completely.

To make the filling:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, sour cream, cream of coconut, and sugar until thoroughly combined and smooth.
  2. Add the coconut and vanilla, and mix until combined. Transfer the filling mixture to the cooled crust, and spread evenly.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Garnish with pecans and coconut before serving.


*Make sure to use cream of coconut, which is thickened and sweetened.

Recipe slightly adapted from Taste of the South.

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    18 Comments on “Italian Cream Tart”

  1. This Italian Cream Tart looks amazing. I love that you get nuttiness in the cookie crust as well as on top. Total deliciousness in my kitchen. This will be made. Thank you for such a yummy post. Sammie

  2. I have always loved Italian Cream cakes, and this tart might even have those beat! I’m so excited to try this recipe, beautiful job, Jennifer!

  3. ” It is strongly my opinion that anything with coconut, pecans, and cream cheese has to be good.”


    I’m waiting for cooler weather to share these types of treats with my favorite gardeners. Our 90+ temps and their outdoor bar tend to be rough on more delicate and temperature sensitive things. They are staying with sturdy and solid treats like pound cakes and solid cookies for the duration of the heat wave (again). But this is on my list!! I’m thinking the peach streusel bread next while our peaches are so wonderful. That one really sounded great. I made peach scones on Sunday and they were a big hit. I’ll bet this one makes the hit list too. Thanks, Jennifer!!

  4. The cakes and tarts are looks so adorable and yummy! It’s really a good treat during hot weather. Thanks for sharing Jennifer! Well done.

  5. That looks like heavenly. I love the idea of sweet and tangy together. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

  6. Thanks for sharing the recipe. This cream tart would be a great treat for friends!

  7. Hi Jennifer,
    I bought the cookies today, can’t wait to make this. I have a can of organic coconut cream, do you think that is that same as cream of coconut?
    Thanks for all the wonderful recipes!

  8. Okay, so off to the store. I already have the crust made. Happy weekend!

  9. This is delicious & one great recipe because it’s so impressive looking, but super easy to make!!!

  10. My first tart ever! I made this early this morning. I make my mother’s best friend an Italian Cream Cake for her birthday ever year. This afternoon, she came for tea and to drop off ingredients for this year’s cake, so I surprised her by trying out my new tart pans and serving this adaptation for teatime dessert. Here are my notes on the process and results:

    – Used all but 4 cookies in a 13 oz package of Harris Teeter brand “Pecan Pleasures” shortbread cookies
    – Pulsed with Vitamix to a fine crumb (a few tiny chunks permissible)
    – Greased the removeable bottom of the pan with refined coconut oil
    – Baked the crust more like 20 minutes based on similar recipes, because the texture seemed moist, buttery, and too tender to the touch. I couldn’t see any brown except maybe around the edges, but after almost 20 min., I touched the crust and could tell it was a little dryer/firmer. The browning appeared richer after cooling for a few minutes.
    – While the crust cooled, I toasted the coconut (Baker’s Angel Flake) in a thin layer on a baking sheet (325F for about 10 min, shuffling occasionally) and the pecans for garnish as well (chopped, 350F about 7 min), about ¼ cup of each. Will toast more as needed.

    – Thaw cream cheese THOROUGHLY.
    – I substituted our homemade, mesophilic kefir yogurt for the sour cream
    – Mix on low first. It may be liquidy before thickening up, but will dollop/spread well
    – Small beads in the filling – no biggie, probably cream cheese not thawed quite enough
    – Chilled in the fridge 3.5 hours

    Delicious, easy, and definitely a keeper! It popped out of the tart ring easily and even slid right off the removable round. It was easy to slice and boasts all the authentic, rich Italian Cream Cake flavors without the overpowering heaviness of a slice of the cake. This tart has a creamy filling, a tender crust, and is a light, fluffy relative of the Italian Cream Cake we love. I am sure this recipe could be made just as easily in a 9-inch pie dish if one so desired.

    Thank you for the recipe!

  11. For the cream of coconut, should I use an unsweetened product or something like Cocoa Lopez?

  12. Can’t wait to put this gluten free filling into my almond meal gluten free crust!
    Thanks so much! I am needing something different and this is it!

  13. I do not have a removable tart pan. Can I make this in a spring form pan?

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