Valentine’s Heart Cakes

4 Star, Cake, Cupcakes | 6th February 2012 | By

I know you can say it with flowers, but how about saying it with flour? As I’m sure most of us are aware, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. With that in mind, how could I resist the lure of making some Valentine’s Heart Cakes when asked. The recipe comes from the highly industrious, flour and sugar encrusted folk at the Baking Mad site: is a free mouth-wateringly helpful website that offers everything you want to know about home baking. The site is packed full of hundreds of inspiring recipes including everything from biscuits, breads and cupcakes to muffins, pies and pizzas. All the recipes are tried and tested by the home-baking expert in the Baking Mad kitchen and come with top tips, ‘how to’ videos and easy to follow step-by-step instructions“.

The original recipe was for four heart shaped cakes, but as I only had two heart moulds, I decided to see if the remaining mixture would run to six cupcakes instead. I did add my own twist to the recipe (I just can’t seem to help myself) by adding some ground cardamom to the cake mix and some rose water to the white chocolate icing.

This is how I did it:

  • Ground the seeds of 6 cardamom pods with a pestle and mortar.
  • Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 150g golden caster sugar and the cardamom until well incorporated.
  • Melted 125g 72% dark chocolate in a bowl over hot water with 3 tbsp milk and left to cool slightly (didn’t take long as my kitchen is colder than the fridge at the moment).
  • Sieved 200g flour (half plain, half wholemeal), 1 tbsp cocoa, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp bicarb of soda.
  • Beat 3 eggs (free range of course & organic) into the creamed mixture one at a time with a spoonful of flour between each egg to prevent curdling.
  • Beat in the chocolate mixture.
  • Folded in the remaining flour & cocoa.
  • Spooned into 2 x 10 cm heart shaped moulds and 6 cupcake cases.
  • Baked at 180C for 25 minutes.
  • Melted 100g of good quality white chocolate in a bowl over hot water.
  • Creamed 140g unsalted butter with 140g icing sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the white chocolate and 1 dessertspoonful of rose water.
  • Sliced the cooled cakes in half.
  • Sandwiched them together with some of the white chocolate icing.
  • Spread the remaining icing over the tops of the cakes and over the cupcakes.
  • Using a heart shaped cutter as a guide, sprinkled some pink sugar crystals over the cakes.
  • Scattered more of the sugar crystals over the cupcakes.

The recipe was clearly written and easy to follow. Apart from the chocolate icing seizing up on me because of the cold, it all worked brilliantly well and there was just the right amount of cake mix to fill the two cake moulds and six cupcake cases. So not only did I have Valentine’s hearts, I also had Valentine’s cupcakes.

The cakes were delicious and were everything you’d expect a good chocolate cake to be. They were richly chocolatey with a nice close textured crumb which kept its shape when cut. They were moist and very easy to eat! The distinctive rose flavoured icing complemented the subtle cardamom in the sponge. All of the above was true of the cupcakes too.

If neither of these appeal there are plenty of other ideas, both sweet and savoury, for baking up a Valentine’s storm for your loved one over on the Baking Mad site.

This is a sponsored post, but as always, all opinions expressed are my own and I retain full editorial control.

Chocolate, Hazelnut & Sherry Cake

4 Star, Large Cakes | 3rd February 2012 | By

As part of the review process for Crazy Water Pickled Lemons I felt I needed to make one of the recipes. No surprise that I chose a chocolate cake – a hazelnut and sherry one.

This is how I did it:

  • Melted 150g dark chocolate (Green & Black’s 72% cook’s chocolate) in a pan over a very low heat with 75g unsalted butter and 125ml sherry (I used a sweet sherry as that’s all I had, but recipe called for dry fino).
  • Stirred until all incorporated and smooth then left to cool for a bit.
  • Toasted 100g shelled hazelnuts under the grill for about 5 minutes. Left to cool slightly, then rubbed of their skins with my hands and chopped them roughly.
  • Weighed out and sifted 2oz plain flour, 2oz cocoa, 1/2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  • Whisked 6 egg whites until stiff – should always be done last, but I hate having to wash up my beaters half way through a process, so I do it first, making sure everything else pretty much ready to go when I’ve finished.
  • Beat 6 egg yolks with 160g caster sugar until thick and creamy.
  • Beat in the chocolate mixture.
  • Stirred in 75g of the hazelnuts.
  • Folded in the flour alternately with spoonfuls of the egg white until all just incorporated.
  • Poured into a 22cm cake mould and baked for 40 minutes at 180C.
  • Left to cool in the tin for 20 minutes then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Threw a handful of raisins into a small pan and just covered with sweet sherry.
  • Brought this to a near simmer, then turned off the heat and left the raisins to soak until cold.
  • Whipped some double cream until soft peaks formed, then whisked in some quark (low fat curd cheese). The recipe had suggested Greek yogurt or fromage frais, but this was the nearest thing I had in the fridge at the time.
  • Stirred in the raisins and sherry.
  • Omitted adding icing sugar as I thought the raisins and sherry would be sweet enough.
  • Placed the cake onto a serving plate & dusted lightly with icing sugar.
  • Scattered the remaining hazelnuts over the top, then dusted again with icing sugar.
  • Served with a large dollop of the sherry raisin cream.

The cake rose beautifully, I was expecting it to sink like a souffle, but luckily, it sank just enough to gave a pleasingly level top. This is one for the adults – rich, dark & slightly bitter it almost borders on the savoury. The crunchy pices of hazelnut provide an interesting contrast to the smooth crumb of the cake. As for the raison cream, it was delicious in its own right and we could have happily eaten a bowlful. It enhanced the flavour of the cake and bought out its fruity notes. This would be good as a dinner party dessert and despite its magnificence, it is very easy to make.

We should Cocoa – the February Challenge

We Should Cocoa | 1st February 2012 | By

Some of those new year’s resolutions you made surfaced in the January health conscious round-up. Now it’s February, we can forget all about it!

It had to come, the moment you’ve all been dreading. We’ve had a nice easy time of it recently and I’m feeling it’s time my bad cop persona surfaced again. So, not only am I going for a savoury theme for February, but as I am a vegetarian I’d like all the entries to reflect this too!

Now come on, don’t go into a sulk, it’s a great chance to get your creative juices flowing. Bakers, don’t feel excluded either, think bread, muffins or anything else for that matter. So there you have it, the We Should Cocoa February challenge is for something savoury and vegetarian which includes some form of chocolate.

If anyone has any burning ideas of a “special ingredient” they’ve been wanting to try, contact us at the usual address if you would like to do a guest challenge this year.

Talking of usual address, please remember to e-mail your entries to weshouldcocoa @ yahoo . co . uk – inclusion in the round-ups can only be ensured if we know about the entries and receive links to those entries. If you need a reminder of the challenge rules you will find them on the We Should Cocoa page.