Southern Mom Loves: Make a Hidden Heart Cake for the One You Love!

Make a Hidden Heart Cake for the One You Love!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hi guys! I've got a great dessert to make for Valentine's Day (or any holiday depending on your cookie-cutter shape), and I've made it as simply as possible using store-bought cake mixes and canned frosting. If you have the time, by all means make it from scratch, but if you need a break, I've got the instructions below to make a knock-out dessert for your sweetheart in as little time as possible!

Hidden Heart Cake Instructions

  • You'll need 2 cake mixes for this cake: 1 white cake mix (DO NOT USE ANGEL FOOD CAKE!!! I know that's what I used, but I'll explain below the problems I encountered with it. I love Angel Food cake, but wish I would have just stuck with a white cake mix), and 1 pink or red cake mix (I used a strawberry and added food coloring to make it red. You could also use a red velvet cake mix, but it is very crumb-y.)
  • If you're dyeing your inner cake, you'll need red food coloring or gel color. (I used food coloring because it was what I had on hand and ended up having to add 60 drops. I would go with gel coloring if possible.)
  • The eggs, oil, water, etc. listed on your mix box to make the cakes.
  • 2 cans of icing (I went with a strawberries n' cream for pink.)
  • 9" diameter bundt cake pan
  • a cookie sheet pan
  • heart cookie cutter
  • small serrated knife for trimming your hearts if needed.
  • a large bag of Conversation Hearts for decorating (optional)
  • a cake round (not required, but makes moving the cake in and out of the freezer easier)

A note about using Angel Food cake: Don't. This batter is so thin my hearts sank to the bottom and ended up at the very top of my cake. Also, you don't grease the pan for an Angel Food cake, which caused problems getting it out without destroying the design inside. Using a plain white cake batter would have saved my sanity some wear and tear!

A note about these instructions: They seem super-long, but I'm giving you lots of tips and tricks that you can use, or skip.
  1. We'll be making the red/pink inner cake first. Preheat your oven according to the instructions on that cake package. 
  2. Grease your bundt cake pan with shortening or spray oil, then lightly flour and tap out the excess; Make sure to flour the inner tube as well. 
  3. Mix the cake as instructed and add in your food coloring/gel color until you reach the desired shade of red.
  4. Bake the cake according to the instructions for a bundt pan. Make sure to tap the pan on the counter repeatedly before baking to release any bubbles.
  5. Allow to cool in the pan at least 15 minutes, then turn it out on a cookie sheet and allow to cool completely. I pop my cookie sheet in the freezer to speed this up. 
  6. Once cooled, cut your bundt cake into individual slices.
  7. Using your cookie cutter, cut one heart from each slice. This will give them a wedge shape so they will fit together exactly inside of the white cake. Pay attention to the direction in which you're cutting; Make sure the wedge shape goes left-to-right and not top-to-bottom. I placed my cutter near the outer edge so that I had slightly thicker slices. I knew I wanted to compress these to fit tightly in the center of the next cake.
  8. Once you have cut your pieces, place them on your cookie sheet and pop them into your freezer. They're super-crumbly now, but freezing them for 15-30 minutes will allow you to smooth the crumbs out and handle them without them falling apart.
  9. Preheat your oven according to the instructions for your white cake (if different from your last cake) and clean and re-grease and flour your bundt pan.
  10. Remove the hearts from the freezer and using your fingers, lightly compress the crumb into a sharper heart shape around the outside. My cookie cutter didn't have a deep enough vee at the top of the heart, so I used a serrated knife to trim out that section. I also used it to clean up the outer shape if it didn't get cleanly cut by the cutter.
  11. Prepare your white cake batter according to the instructions.
  12. Spoon about 1/3 of your white batter into the bundt pan. Tap the pan on the counter to remove bubbles and even the batter (Don't do this after placing your hearts!)
  13. Place your hearts around the center of the bundt pan, top-down. I assembled these on the cookie sheet first in a ring, then placed 1/4 of the ring at a time. That made sure that it fit together well. Make sure you don't push down on your hearts. You don't want them to sink down to the bottom.
  14. Spoon your remaining batter over the hearts. You want to make sure they are covered completely with batter.
  15. Bake as directed in the box instructions.
  16. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a sheet pan and pop it in the freezer until cooled completely. 
  17. Remove from freezer and trim the bottom to be flat if necessary. Make sure you don't trim so much that you cut into the bottom of your design. If you aren't able to trim it flat, don't worry, you can fill in just about any imperfection with frosting.
  18. Place your cake on a cake round. This is just a cardboard circle that will help steady your cake and allow you to pick it up and move it more easily. If you're serving this on a cake stand and don't want to use a cake round, here's a little trick to keep it neat: Take 4 strips of aluminum foil and place it on each of 4 edges of your stand, making sure they reach under the edges of your cake, and tuck them under the stand to keep them in place. Place your cake on top of the 4 strips and decorate as usual. When you're finished, carefully pull the strips out from under your cake one by one, using a sawing motion to release them from the icing. Voila! Nice and neat!
  19. Ice your cake with a thin crumb layer. This will make sure the crumbs stay beneath your outer icing layer. I also use this layer to even out any imperfections in the cake, i.e., filling in gaps or holes. Freeze for about 30 minutes.
  20. Ice your outer layer. I wanted to make mine smooth to mirror the candy hearts, so here's another trick: Get the outer icing layer as smooth as you can with your spatula, then freeze for another 30 minutes. Once the icing is cold, you can use your spatula to smooth just the imperfections more easily. That way I was able to keep the matte finish to match the candy hearts. If you want a silkier, smoother finish to your icing, you can ice it as smoothly as possible with your spatula, then use a blow dryer to slightly melt and smooth the icing. I have also seen this trick done by a cake-making friend in an oven on low.
  21. Decorate your cake! I sorted my hearts so I could choose the prettiest candies and use all of the colors evenly. I then filled the center cavity with a handful of hearts for a fun presentation. The kids loved the way they spilled out when I cut the cake!

There you have it! A super fun cake, just in time for Valentine's Day. Your sweethearts will be so surprised and delighted when they see what's inside! Enjoy!


Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? What are your plans this year? Will you be making this cake? I love to read your comments!

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