The classic cake starts with a base of yellow layer cake that’s spiked with chopped pecans and coconut. It’s iced with a cream cheese frosting that is also spiked with pecans and coconut. This recipe for the bars is a lot easier to prepare than the original, but all of the original components are included.
My mother and I served these bars at Super Bowl parties, and the plates were empty before the end of the game.
The basis for the recipe is often called gooey butter cake. The base layer is cake mix mixed with an egg and melted butter, and the next layer is a combination of confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, vanilla and eggs. I’ve added the pecans and coconut to the second layer for this Italian Cream Cake twist on the recipe.
The bars bake in about 40 minutes. You’ll want to let the bars cool completely before serving.
ITALIAN CREAM CAKE BARS
1 box yellow cake mix
1 large egg
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 8-ounce block reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup shredded sweetened coconut, plus 2 tablespoons more for topping
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine cake mix, 1 egg and melted margarine or butter. Press into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and powdered sugar together in a bowl. Fold in ½ cup of the pecans and sweetened coconut and then spread over the cake mix.
Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut over the top of the cream cheese mixture and bake for 40-45 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Cool in the baking dish before cutting into squares.
Makes 16 squares.