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Italian Love Cake

Italian Love Cake is an easy yet impressive make-ahead dessert with three layers of deliciousness that come together for one perfect bite. Everyone will love it…just like the name says!

It’s cheesecake meets fudge marble cake meets chocolate mousse…such an incredible combination. One taste, and you’ll know why this is one of my most favorite desserts ever!

I first met this scrumptious cake a whole lot of years ago when we were out to dinner with friends. After an awesome Italian meal, the waitress began tempting us with the list of desserts: tiramisu, gelato, cannoli, zabaglione, Italian love cake…

Wait. Hold it right there. “What is Italian love cake?” None of us had ever heard of it before, but after listening to the description of this triple-layer cake, we knew we had to have it!

The first layer is very similar to cheesecake, but it’s made with ricotta cheese along with sugar, eggs and vanilla.

The second layer is fudge marble cake (in our case – and maybe theirs too – it’s a boxed cake mix, which keeps things easy).

The third layer is a mousse-like mixture of chocolate pudding mix and Cool Whip.

It was incredibly moist, not overly sweet, served cold, and out of this world!

I had to learn make this at home, of course, so I started looking for a recipe. I went with one from food.com, and it was exactly the same and every bit as good as the cake I had at the restaurant that night!

And I was so happy to learn that it’s actually super simple to make thanks to a little “magic” that happens in the oven.

You put the cake batter in the pan first and top it with the ricotta mixture, but they don’t combine together at all…and they switch places!

Yep, the ricotta layer ends up on the bottom, the cake layer ends up on top, and they are two very distinct layers. So cool!

Italian love cake in the pan with a spatula with pieces of cake on plates in the background

Ingredients you need:

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card below.

  • Cooking spray
  • Fudge marble cake mix (plus the ingredients needed as per the box; usually water, vegetable oil and eggs)
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Instant chocolate pudding mix
  • Cool Whip whipped topping

Here’s a look at how to make Italian Love Cake:

Note: This is just a quick overview of the steps. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe with detailed instructions.

2 images; one a graphic of an oven with text that says preheat the oven to 350°F; the other of marble cake batter in a baking pan with text that says prepare the cake mix as per the package directions, pour into a greased 13 by 9 inch baking pan
2 images; one of the ricotta mixture in a bowl with a wooden spoon with text that says in a bowl mix together the ricotta, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth; the other of the ricotta mixture in the pan with text that says spoon the ricotta mixture evenly over the cake batter
2 images; one a graphic of an oven with text that says bake 1 hour or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean; the other of the baked cake in the pan on a wire rack with text that says put the pan on a wire rack, cool completely
2 images; one of chocolate pudding and milk being mixed together in a bowl with text that says stir the chocolate pudding mix and milk until smooth; the other of Cool Whip being folded into the chocolate pudding mixture with text that says gently fold in the Cool Whip until well-combined
2 images; one of the pudding mixture spread on the cake in the pan with text that says spread the pudding mixture evenly over the cake; the other a graphic of a refrigerator with text that says cover, refrigerate for at least 6 hours, overnight is even better
2 images; one of the cake in the pan with chocolate sprinkles on top with text that says top with chocolate sprinkles, optional; the other of 2 pieces of cake on white plates and forks on the side with text that says enjoy

Tips & Tidbits:

  • Remember to plan ahead for making this cake since it needs to sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours before you serve it.
    • It’s very good the day you make it, but it’s even better the next day. I recommend making it the day before and letting it sit in the fridge overnight because it gets even more moist and delicious!
  • It’s meant to be served cold, and it’s the best this way!
  • Just think of all the different variations you could make on this cake simply by changing up the flavor of the cake mix and/or the pudding mix…like red velvet or strawberry cake with cream cheese or white chocolate pudding, lemon cake with lemon pudding, French vanilla cake with pistachio, coconut, or banana pudding, and lots more!
  • I slice my cake into 12 pieces – which are very generously sized because no one is going to want a teeny-tiny piece – but you can make them smaller if you’d like.
  • Keep the cake stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • Yes, you can freeze it!
    • Place the slices you want to freeze on a baking sheet or tray lined with wax paper. Freeze until solid. Wrap each slice in plastic wrap and then foil. Place in a freezer bag or freezer container. For the best quality, use within 1 to 2 months.
    • When ready to serve: unwrap, thaw and enjoy!
a piece of Italian love cake on a spatula being lifted out of the pan with pieces of cake on plates in the background

So, are you wondering why it’s called Italian Love Cake? Me too! I did some looking around and couldn’t really find a good answer, so it’ll have to remain a mystery for now.

Maybe it’s called that just because it’s so yummy and everyone loves it!

I think this would be a perfect dessert for Mother’s Day, which is coming up this Sunday. Why not show your mom how much you love her by making her a love cake?

I hope you try this Italian Love Cake recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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a piece of Italian love cake on a white plate

Italian Love Cake

Italian Love Cake is an easy yet impressive make-ahead dessert with three layers of deliciousness that come together for one perfect bite. Everyone will love it…just like the name says!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Cooling & Chilling Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12 generous slices
Estimated Calories: 541

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box fudge marble cake mix, plus the ingredients needed to make the cake as per the box (mine needed 1 cup water, ½ cup vegetable oil, and 3 eggs)
  • 32 ounces ricotta cheese, I use whole milk ricotta
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (3.9-ounce) box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup milk, I use whole milk
  • 1 (8-ounce) container Cool Whip whipped topping, thawed
  • ¼ cup chocolate sprinkles, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x13x2-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  • Prepare the marble cake batter as per the package directions and pour it into the pan.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined and smooth.
  • Spoon the ricotta mixture evenly over the cake batter in the pan, making sure to go all the way to the edges of the pan.
  • Bake for 1 hour on the center rack of the oven or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    If your cake ends up with cracks in it (mine often does), that is fine. It will be covered up with the topping.
  • Place the pan on a wire rack and allow the cake to cool completely (this will take about 1½ to 2 hours).
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the chocolate pudding mix and milk until well-combined and smooth.
  • Add the Cool Whip to the pudding mixture and gently fold it in until it is well-combined.
  • Spread the pudding mixture evenly over the top of the cake.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours (overnight is even better).
  • Top the cake with chocolate sprinkles, if desired.
  • Slice into 12 pieces; serve cold.

Notes

  • Keep the cake stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • Yes, you can freeze it!
    • Place the slices you want to freeze on a baking sheet or tray lined with wax paper. Freeze until solid. Wrap each slice in plastic wrap and then foil. Place in a freezer bag or freezer container. For best quality, use within 1 to 2 months.
    • When ready to serve: unwrap, thaw and enjoy!
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!

Recipe slightly adapted from food.com.

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