Valentine’s Day is drawing near! If you’d like to bake your sweetheart a cake but you don’t own a heart-shaped pan, never fear! Here, we show you how to use round and square cake pans to make an espresso-infused heart-shaped chocolate cake. A thick layer of frosting and a garnish of edible flowers provide the finishing touch. If you can’t find any edible, pesticide-free flowers, decorate the cake with sprinkles for a whimsical touch.
The test kitchen cooks tested and retested this cake recipe, along with all the others in their beautiful Favorite Cakes cookbook. Test Kitchen Director Belle English has a few pro tips to make the construction and decoration of this easy cake flawless:
- Trim away any domed portions of the cake before frosting so all sides are flat
- Turn the cut sides down to avoid crumbs
- Slide parchment strips under the edges of the cake before decorating to ensure easy cleanup
- Use an offset spatula to swipe frosting under each section of cake to make it stay put
Set this charming cake on the table this Valentine’s Day and share the love. Each bite is chocolate bliss. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Chocolate Espresso Valentine’s Heart Cake
For the cake:
- ½ cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) canola oil, plus more for greasing
- 2 ½ cups (12 1/2 oz./390 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 cup (3 oz./90 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 2 cups (1 lb./500 g) sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) buttermilk
- 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
- 6 oz. (185 g) semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
- 4 tsp. espresso powder
For the frosting:
- 2 cups (1 lb./500 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups (12 oz./375 g) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp. kosher salt
- Red food coloring as needed
- Edible flowers or sprinkles, optional
To make the cake:
- Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease an 8-inch (20-cm) round cake pan and an 8-inch (20-cm) square cake pan, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, then grease the parchment. Dust with flour, then tap out any excess.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla on medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, slowly add the flour mixture, and beat until incorporated, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the melted chocolate and espresso powder and beat until combined. Raise the speed to high and beat for 30 seconds.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the racks and let cool completely.
To make the frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt, raise the speed to medium-high, and beat until combined, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the red food coloring, 1 drop at a time and stirring after each addition, until the frosting reaches your desired color.
- Cut the round cake in half crosswise. Orient the square cake as a diamond.
- Frost the cut sides of the half rounds with the frosting and place them against the top sides of the diamond to form a heart shape, pressing gently to adhere. Spread the remaining buttercream or frosting over the entire surface of the cake. Decorate as desired with edible flowers or sprinkles and serve.
Most home bakers will have on hand the tools they need to make this simple cake. Here’s what we used to make the process flawless from start to finish: