If you are looking for the perfect dessert or gift for your Valentine, I’ve got you. You will fall in love with this easy Valentine’s Day chocolate cake recipe. It is super chocolaty and moist. It has a rich chocolate ganache filling, which we will also use to decorate it. To make it super special I’m going to show you how to make cute little hearts I made with red ganache. This mini chocolate cake is not only delicious but easy, and you can put it together in a few hours.
For this mini cake, I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe. It has oil and buttermilk, which makes it super moist and fluffy. This cake has a nice dark color and an intense chocolate flavor. I also added a bit of chopped chocolate to the batter to make the cake richer.
To fill and mask the cake I made a classic dark chocolate ganache. I chose this filling because it is the easiest to make and has the most genuine chocolate flavor. You can find the dark chocolate ganache recipe here.
How to make Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cake?
These are roughly the steps we’re going to follow to make this Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cake:
- Make the ganache and set aside
- Sift the dry ingredients and mix in the rest of the ingredients
- Pour the batter into the mold and bake
- Let the cake cool and cut it in half
- Fill and decorate with the ganache
- Make the red ganache and draw the hearts
Chocolate ganache: how to use it
You can find my dark chocolate ganache recipe with all the details following this link. For this Valentine’s Day chocolate cake, we want the ganache to have a spreadable consistency, more on the softer side. For this, when we make the ganache, it is important to let it cool to room temperature. If we rush it by putting it in the fridge, it can get very firm and difficult to work with. I recommend making the ganache ahead, before even starting the cake batter. That way it will have more time to cool to room temperature before we need to use it.
Can I use another frosting for this cake?
Yes! Of course, you can. Other frostings also go great with this cake. In this case, we use ganache because it’s delicious and easy to make. But here are other ideas:
- Chocolate mousse
- Chocolate frosting with cocoa powder
- Chocolate buttercream
- Whipped ganache
- Chocolate pastry cream
- Chocolate cremeux
What tools do I need to decorate this cake?
To decorate this cake these are the basic tools we need:
- Long Serrated Knife: for precise slicing of the cake.
- Silicone spatula: it helps mix and scrape the sides of the bowl when making the ganache.
- Offset Spatula: ideal for spreading ganache on the sides and top of the cake, and also for removing excess ganache.
- Scraper: it makes the sides of the cake smooth in one or two movements.
- Turntable: it’s the best investment you can make if you like decorating cakes. The table rotates making it easier for you to use both hands for decorating.
- Small disposable piping bags: we use them to make the small hearts on the top of the cake.
What’s the secret to a darker chocolate cake?
This recipe was made to create a super dark cake. But to make this happen it is essential to use a good brand of cocoa powder. If the cocoa powder you have is rather light, you can add an extra teaspoon of coffee which will help intensify the color without affecting the flavor or texture. You can use both natural or dutch processed cocoa for this cake.
Room temperature ingredients
When we mix cake batter, what we’re trying to do is create an emulsion. That’s why it’s best to have our ingredients at room temperature so they blend nicely. Remember to pop out of the fridge the egg and buttermilk an hour or so before mixing.
How to know when the cake is ready?
The first thing you have to do is preheat and bake at the temperature the recipe calls for. To know when the cake’s ready, check on the first time the recipe asks for. Insert a skewer or knife and if it comes out clean, it is ready. If it comes out with a few crumbs, it is also ready to come out. Leave more time if the knife comes out wet or with traces of batter.
Do I have to cool the cake before decorating it?
The sponge needs to be completely cold before filling. But unlike other cakes, this cake does not need to be chilled before decorating. Usually, the ganache filling settles very quickly, which makes the cake sturdy and easy to decorate. I don’t recommend refrigerating it before decorating because that can cause the ganache to start setting before we finish masking the cake.
Substitution for the chocolate hearts
For the chocolate hearts, we use a small amount of white chocolate ganache with food coloring. If you prefer not to make the ganache hearts, you can also buy pre-made ones. Just get heart-shaped sprinkles and choose the ones you like more!
Other options are:
- Color white chocolate with oil-based food color (no need to make a ganache)
- Use red candy melts
- Use fondant hearts
Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cake
- 120 g All purpose flour
- 30 g Cocoa powder
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- 1 tsp Baking soda
- 1 Pinch of salt
- 140 g Granulated sugar
- 40 g Brown sugar
- 40 g Dark chocolate chopped
- 140 ml Buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 80 ml Vegetable oil
- 1 tsp Instant coffee
- 30 ml Hot water for the coffee
Filling and decoration:
- 1 batch of Dark Chocolate Ganache See notes
- 40 g chopped white chocolate
- 30 g Whipping cream
- ½ tsp Red food coloring
For the ganache:
- Make the ganache as shown in the recipe. Cover and leave at room temperature before making the cake.
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 6-inch mold and line it with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour with baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, and salt. Add the white and brown sugar and the chopped chocolate. Mix with a hand whisk.
- Add the egg, buttermilk, oil, and coffee dissolved in the hot water. Mix until fully combined.
- Pour the batter into the mold and bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes. When you insert a skewer into the cake and comes out clean, it will be ready to take out.
- Let cool for 5-10 minutes and unmold. Let cool completely on a drying rack.
For building and decorating:
- Check the consistency of the ganache: it should be spreadable but not too firm. It can be placed in the refrigerator in 15-minute intervals, mixing each time, until you get the right consistency.
- Cut the cake top (the dome) and remove it. Cut the cake in half.
- Glue the base of the cake to a board or a dish. Fill the cake with ¼ of the ganache and cover it with the other sponge.
- Place half of the rest of the ganache on top of the cake and cover the top and sides. Smooth the sides with the scraper and remove the excess from the edges with an offset spatula.
- Decorate the top with the hearts and make a border with the rest of the ganache, with a piping bag and a small star tip.
- You can cut the cake right away but it’s better to make it one or two days ahead. Store in the fridge in a container or box for up to a week. Take it out of the fridge 2 to 4 hours before serving.
For the hearts:
- For the red ganache, place the cream in a small bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds. Add the red color and dissolve. The cream will be a dark pink color.
- Add the chocolate to the cream, mix lightly, and microwave again for 15 seconds. Mix and finish combining. If it still doesn’t melt and the chocolate is still warm, heat it for 5 more seconds.
- Once combined, let it rest until it gets to a piping consistency. Place it in a piping bag, cut the tip, and make tiny hearts all over the top of the cake.