February 7, 2017


Valentine surprise cake6

This cake was made by Nick for our Clandestine Cake Club meeting last February.  The theme was loosely based on St. Valentine’s Day and he simply Googled “Valentine cakes” and this came up first!

Valentine surprise cake4

Nick being Nick, he followed the recipe, line by line, to the letter and the end result was stunning.  He made an enviably beautiful and glossy ganache to cover it and decorated it with pink roses and little pink hearts that he chose himself.  Bless…….

Valentine surprise cake

Essentially the recipe makes two almond sponges, which have a lovely flavour and texture.  One is coloured and flavoured with cocoa powder, then cut into sections with a heart shaped cutter. 

You bury the heart shaped pieces in a log fashion inside the second cake before you bake that and therefore end up with a chocolate heart running through the length of the second cake.  Very effective and remarkably easy to do.

The only slightly disappointing thing was that the hidden heart was not very red in colour even though it contained a whole bottle of red food colouring .  Comments on the website indicated that other people had found this but it’s hardly surprising considering the cake contained so much dark brown cocoa powder to overcome.  The hidden heart in Nick’s cake had a slight hint of red, so that was fine.


You can see the original recipe here.  I am entering this post into this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge, from Choclette over at Tin and Thyme.  You can see the details here.

Valentine surprise cake5a


For each cake (we made the chocolate cake for the centre first and the second cake the next day.)

175g butter, softened.  (we used Flora Buttery)

175g golden caster sugar

3 large eggs

140g self raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

85g ground almonds

100ml milk

1½ tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate centre

3 tblsp cocoa powder

1 bottle red food colouring

For the icing

100ml double cream

200g dark chocolate, finely chopped

50g unsalted butter

roses, hearts or other decorations of your choice


Preheat the oven to 160°C / 140° fan / gas mk 3.  Butter a large 900g loaf tin and put a strip of baking paper along the bottom and up the sides.

For the chocolate cake, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder then fold into the mixture along with the ground almonds.  Mix together the milk, vanilla and food colouring and add to the mixture, mix in until evenly combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 60-70 minutes until the cake passes the skewer test.   Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

When the cake is cold, cut it into a heart shaped log by using a 5cm (approx) heart shaped cookie or pastry cutter.  To do this, measure the depth of your cutter and slice the cake into thick slices of this depth.  Lay the slices flat on a board and cut out a heart shape from each slice.  

The heart shaped slices will be laid end-to-end inside the second cake and inevitably there will be quite a lot of unused cake.  We used ours to make a chocolate trifle later but you can use your imagination – or just eat the pieces as they are.

Make a second batch of cake mixture exactly like the first except that there will be no cocoa powder or food colouring to include.

Pour two thirds of the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and then carefully lay the heart shaped pieces of chocolate cake, point downwards, side by side in the mixture so as to form a heart shaped log end to end along the length of the tin.  Carefully spoon the remaining mixture around and on top of the hearts and bake for about an hour until the cake is golden brown and passes the skewer test.  Cool as before, then turn out.

To make the icing, put all the ingredients together in a small saucepan and heat gently until combined.  Allow to cool then spread over the cake and add decorations of your choice.

Cuts into 12-16 slices.


  1. Well done Nick; it looks delicious and I'd be delighted to have it for Valentine's Day.

  2. That's a seriously cute cake. I love the way it looks and, to be honest, I think I prefer the heart to be not too red. Big red hearts seem a bit less romantic and a bit more gory to me.

  3. This is so clever. I don't quite understand how it's done, but it's very effective. Thanks for sharing with We Should Cocoa.