This Valentine's Day design these sweet hearts for your sweetheart! These cakes are so much fun to bake, decorate and customize.
Technique tip: The fondant can be dyed up to a day ahead.
- 5½ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 teaspoons baking soda
- 4 teaspoons table salt
- 2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 5 cups sugar
- 8 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
Italian meringue buttercream
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 large egg whites
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Lemon yellow food coloring
- Golden yellow food coloring
- Kelly green food coloring
- Electric green soft gel food coloring
- Sunset orange gel food coloring
- Pink food coloring
- Electric purple gel food coloring
- 6 pounds white fondant
- 1 pound conversation hearts
- Powdered sugar
- 4 ounces red fondant
- Clear piping gel
For the chocolate cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of six 7-inch each cake pan with parchment paper.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk.
3. Place the cocoa powder into a separate heatproof bowl. Bring 6 cups water to a boil, then carefully measure exactly 4 cups and pour over the cocoa powder and whisk until completely smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Add the eggs, two at a time, beating until each addition is incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula when necessary.
5. Add the flour mixture to the mixer in four parts, alternating with the warm cocoa mixture in three parts, beating just until each addition is incorporated before adding the next; do not over mix.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.
7. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in the pans. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Loosen the edges with a straight spatula, invert the pans to remove the cake, and peel off the parchment.
8. Once your cakes are completely cool, remove them from their pans and level with a ruler and serrated knife.
For the simple syrup:
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 1 cup water and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
For the Italian buttercream:
1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
2. While the sugar syrup is heating, put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
3. When the syrup reaches 230°F on the candy thermometer, begin to whip the egg whites on medium/high speed. Whip until the egg whites are stiff.
4. When the syrup reaches 240°F, immediately remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer running, pour the syrup into the egg whites in a very thin stream. Pour the syrup between the side of the bowl and the whisk attachment.
5. Whip the meringue at high speed until thick and glossy and the bowl is no longer warm on the outside, about 8-12 minutes.
6. With the mixer running, add the butter, a piece at a time, whipping until each piece is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula occasionally.
7. After all the butter has been added, continue to whip the buttercream until it's thick and smooth, 3-5 minutes then beat in the vanilla.
8. Divide out 1/2-cup portions of the buttercream into 6 separate mixing bowls. Keep the remaining buttercream in the original bowl.
9. Using a small conversation heart as a basis of comparison (yellow, green, peach, pink and purple), color each 1/2 cup of buttercream. Keep the rest of the buttercream uncolored.
1. Separate your white fondant into six equal portions, reserving one portion to remain uncolored. Using the same conversation heart colors as the icing, gently knead the remaining five colors into your pretty pastels. Once color is fully incorporated, roll the fondant into a ball and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Store in a cool, dry place.
2. Cut a "lid" on each cake about 1 inch from the top and leave in place. Do not separate into two cakes at this point.
3. Using your serrated knife, cut each cake into the shape of a heart. You can either do this freehand or with the help of a template.
4. Remove each heart-shaped lid from the top and set aside. Use a 3-inch heart cutter to cut out the centre of the thicker, bottom layer of each heart cake.
5. Brush all of your cake layers with simple syrup, including the top lids. Allow the simple syrup to soak in completely before moving on to the next step.
6. Ice each cake in the appropriate color using your small offset spatula. Make sure to take away any excess buttercream within and around the heart-shaped hole and get it as smooth as you can.
7. Fill the heart-shaped hole with conversation hearts.
8. Mark your colored heart cakes on a cake board so you can remember which color icing is filled inside each cake. This is especially important once all of your cakes are iced with the rest of the plain Italian meringue buttercream.
9. Put the lids on top of each cake. Frost all six cakes with a thin layer of the Italian meringue buttercream using a small icing spatula. Chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
10. Remove cakes from the fridge and ice again, making sure that the buttercream is completely level and even on all sides. Chill for another 20 minutes. Once the buttercream is chilled and firm, smooth out any ridges and set aside.
11. Dust a work surface with powdered sugar and roll out each of the six colors of fondant to be about 1/8-inch thick and cover each heart using a fondant smoother to get the fondant flush to the cake. Bring the smoother over the top edges of the heart, smoothing out the crease in the middle first and then moving down to the bottom.
12. Prepare the lettering that goes on each heart by rolling out some thin red fondant on a work surface dusted with powdered sugar. Cut out each letter you need using the appropriate alphabet cookie cutters and set aside.
13. Use a ruler to measure the length of each word so that you can properly center them on each heart. Begin placing each fondant letter onto your hearts with the help of a brush and some clear piping gel.