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Italian Love Cake (+Video)

This Italian Love Cake is like no other cake. It is so unique with incredible layers of flavor. This cake is guaranteed to be a hit!

A DELICIOUS, UNIQUE CAKE

There’s nothing quite as delicious or comforting as a freshly baked Italian Love Cake – and particularly one that you make with love! Whether you’ve been baking for years, or are just getting started in the kitchen, this Italian inspired dessert is sure to bring smiles of appreciation from everyone around the table. So gather up your ingredients and let’s get started on creating a dessert that’ll have your friends and family saying “Molto bene!”

A slice of Italian love cake with a bite taken out.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

What is Italian Love Cake?

Italian Love Cake is an Italian-American dessert. It typically consists of layers of chocolate cake, sweetened ricotta cheese, and a pudding-like layer made with instant pudding mix, milk and whipped topping.

Why is it called Italian Love Cake?

I tried to find an answer to that question but like many interestingly-named recipes, the origins are unclear. Some say that the name was given to the cake by Italian-American immigrants who wanted to honor their Italian heritage by combining a traditional Italian ingredient (ricotta cheese) with American flavors and ingredients.

Do I have to use ricotta cheese?

I know ricotta is not everyone’s cup of tea but It is traditional for this recipe. I know it can seem a bit unconventional to use in a sweet dessert. It makes for a very creamy and moist layer and I personally don’t taste it as a separate ingredient but I get that it can be a texture issue for some people. If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to use it then you can try mascarpone cheese (next best thing) or softened cream cheese (same amounts).

Can I use a different pudding mix or cake mix flavor?

Certainly! Any pudding, cake mix combo should work for this easy recipe. The options are endless and will turn out incredible no matter what you choose.

What if I don’t want to use a cake mix or store-bought pudding mix?

You can make your own favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe and your favorite chocolate pudding recipe if you like. I have not tested any of that so couldn’t tell you exactly how to proceed but it seems like it would be pretty straightforward. You can make this recipe as difficult and as complicated as you enjoy!

I don’t like Cool Whip, what else can I use?

Just make your own whipped cream. In place of the whipped topping, whip 2 cups of heavy whipping cream with ½ cup powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract until stiff peaks start to form, then fold it into the pudding mixture. Fold in half at a time until there are no more streaks in the mixture. Keep in mind, fresh whipped cream isn’t as stabilized as Cool Whip so this may not last as long in the fridge before it starts to break down.

Why did my ricotta layer end up on the bottom?

Because it is a heavier layer than the chocolate cake so it naturally sinks down. However, don’t go trying to layer the ricotta layer first then the chocolate cake. It’s important it is layered on top of the chocolate cake layer to give the cake a chance to cook evenly without over cooking the ricotta layer.

How should I serve this?

I like this cake chilled but some may like it room temperature. Just don’t leave it out too long or the layers can break down a bit and change texture.

How to store leftover cake?

Italian Love Cake should be refrigerated when you aren’t serving it. If covered and stored properly in the fridge, it should keep for up to 5 days. If you want to keep it longer, it can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.

A slice of Italian Love Cake in front of the rest of the pan of it.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • chocolate cake mix – just use your favorite here. I tend to go with a deeper chocolate flavor like chocolate fudge. Devil’s Food Cake works really well here.
  • ingredients to make the cake: eggs, oil and water – you will be using the amounts that are on the back of the box
  • ricotta cheese – yep, this is the “Italian” part of Italian Love Cake. See my FAQ’s above for more details on this ingredient.
  • large eggs – these act as a binder with the ricotta cheese. It helps hold the layer together better.
  • instant chocolate pudding mix – it needs to be instant. Don’t get the cook and serve stuff or it will not set up. Sometimes the word “Instant” can be pretty small on the packaging so be sure you grab the right one.
  • whipped topping (Cool Whip) – it doesn’t have to be name brand. It can be store brand.
Cool Whip, chocolate cake mix, chocolate pudding mix, eggs, cold milk, oil, water, sugar, vanilla extract, and ricotta cheese.

HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN LOVE CAKE

Preheat your oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (I like the kind that has flour in it, like Baker’s Joy). Prepare the cake mix as per the instructions on the back of the box (along with the amounts for eggs, oil and water it calls for)  and pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.

Using an electric hand mixer, mix the ricotta, eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until the mixture becomes smooth. Spoon the ricotta mixture on top of the cake batter in the baking dish.

collage of three photos: chocolate cake batter in a baking dish; ricotta, eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl; ricotta cheese spread out on top of chocolate cake batter.

Bake the cake for about 1 hour and then place it on a wire rack to cool completely. In a large bowl, pour the milk and gradually add the pudding mix while mixing it thoroughly.

collage of two photos: fully baked Italian Love Cake cooling; instant pudding prepared in a bowl.

Add half of the whipped topping and mix it in well. Then add the remaining whipped topping and mix it until it is well combined with no streaks. Smooth the topping on top of the cake evenly. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

collage of two photos: Cool Whip added to chocolate pudding mixture; chocolate pudding whipped topping spread on top of cake.

Slice the cake and serve.

A baking dish with Italian Love Cake that is missing a piece.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

A serving utensil holding a slice of Italian Love Cake.

Italian Love Cake (+Video)

This Italian Love Cake is like no other cake. It is so unique with incredible layers of flavor. This cake is guaranteed to be a hit!
4.91 from 41 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Chill Time: 6 hours
Servings: 15 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (I like the kind that has flour in it, like Baker’s Joy).
  • Prepare 1 box chocolate cake mix with ingredients to make the cake: eggs, oil and water per the instructions on the back of the box and pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
    A chocolate cake in a baking dish.
  • Using an electric hand mixer, mix the 32 ounce container ricotta cheese, 4 large eggs, 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a large bowl until the mixture becomes smooth.
    Ricotta, eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  • Spoon the ricotta mixture on top of the cake batter in the baking dish.
    A chocolate cake with the ricotta layer on top.
  • Bake the cake for about 1 hour and then place it on a wire rack to cool completely.
    A baked cake with ricotta cheese layer on top.
  • In a large bowl, pour 1 ½ cups cold milk and gradually add the 5.9 ounce box instant chocolate pudding mix while mixing it thoroughly.
    Chocolate pudding in a mixing bowl.
  • Add half of the 16 ounces large tub whipped topping (Cool Whip) and mix it in well. Then add the remaining whipped topping and mix it until it is well combined with no streaks.
    Whipped topping mixed into chocolate pudding.
  • Smooth the topping on top of the cake evenly.
    A chocolate cake with a chocolate whipped pudding layer on top.
  • Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • Slice the cake and serve.
    A slice of Italian love cake with a bite taken out.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • The flavors taste even better if left to chill overnight. 
  • Please refer to my FAQ’s and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions. 
  •  Want to use something else other than ricotta? Try marscapone, softened cream cheese, or a cheesecloth strained Greek yogurt. 
  • Feel free to serve this either chilled or room temperature. If room temp, the layers may start to melt a bit. 
  • Keep this in the fridge when not serving. You can keep it for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. 
  • Add some toppings, like chocolate sauce, hot fudge, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, or crushed cannoli shells.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 18g | Sodium: 502mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 37g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating




35 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious cake!
    I’m in Australia and we have a very multicultural society so I had heard of it, but never made it.
    Just wondering, the instructions have the chocolate cake mix on the bottom, then the ricotta but in the images, the ricotta is on the bottom.
    Is there a reason why that is?
    Thank you

  2. 5 stars
    I had a coworker say she was “craving Italian Love Cake.” I thought she meant Italian Wedding Cake, but she corrected me. When I got home I immediately started looking for a recipe and found yours. Ohhhh myyyyy goodness! I took it to work and it was a huge success. It’s like a cheese cake and chocolate cake combined with this silky smooth topping. I wouldn’t change a thing in this recipe.
    I am in the process of making my second one. It is in the oven as I type this lol.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. Because it’s a softer cake? I’ve never made one, but it’s so pretty that I would love to present it so you can see it without having to first cut into it.

  3. 5 stars
    Brandie,
    Thank you for this lip-smacking , oh so delicious recipe! Definitely refrigerate overnight before serving – it’s worth the wait! Everyone is raving over the recipe! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes! Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this cake for years. It is one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten.
    You can also make it with Duncan Hines Fudge Marble cake also. Both are excellent.

  5. 5 stars
    I love your recipes. they’re easy and oh so good. thank you. I am making Italian love cake. I shared it too

  6. 5 stars
    I WILL SURELY MAKE THIS CAKE BECAUSE MY HUSBAND IS CHOCOLATE LOVER AND IT SOUNDS SOOOO GOOD! CAN YOU SUBSITUTE COTTAGE CHEESE FOR THE RICOTTA DHEESE? IT COSTS 3 TIMES WHAT THE COTTAGE CHEESE DOES AND I HAVE USED IT IN OTHER RECIPES THAT CALLED FOR RICOTTA CHEESE AND THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE IN THE TASTE.

  7. 5 stars
    I’m excited to make this but I do have a question. Does it matter if the ricotta mixture is added to the pan first then the cake mix. In your instructions it says cake mix first then ricotta, but the picture of the sliced cake looks like ricotta mixture was added to the pan first.

  8. I have a question. In the picture it looks like the ricotta layer is on the bottom and the chocolate cake is in the center. So, does the ricotta layer get put in the dish first and then the chocolate cake on top of that?

      1. I am so sorry -can’t believe I missed your explanation of why the ricotta sinks in the FAQ. I actually looked at those before asking my question and totally missed it.

  9. Can I use a from scratch home made cake instead of a mix. I feel that cake mixes have an after taste to them

    1. For a true Italian love cake it needs a little booze of sorts. I’ll replace a little of the water with brandy.

  10. I’m confused. The picture shows yellow then chocolate then the whipped topping. Did I miss something while reading the instructions. What’s the yellow party seen in the photo for the recipe.

      1. 2 stars
        I live in england so no idea what your cakes mixes are etc. really good recipes but cannot replicate them , Good luck x

      2. You do actually! I lived in England for 3 years and was able to purchase Cadbury & Betty Crocker cake mixes. In fact, I have a Cadbury cake mix in my cupboard from my trip last month. I bought it at Tesco. But as I also mention above in the FAQ’s, you can use your favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe for this.