Learn How to Make Martha's Heart-Shaped Cakes Two Ways for Valentine's Day
Every year at Martha Stewart Living, we challenge ourselves to create something beautiful and delicious for Valentine's Day. Sarah Carey, our editorial director of food and entertaining, and I meet to discuss such pleasant "problems," and this year we came up with two delectable confections: mini flourless chocolate cakes, and a layered vanilla heart cake garnished with raspberries, crème-fraîche frosting, and coconut. They both say "I love you" twice: once when you look at them, and again when you devour your serving!
The chocolate Roberta heart recipe, which we've adapted into sweet individual servings as Roberta Heart Cakes with Buttercream, was developed many years ago in my catering kitchen by baker Roberta Kins, who once made 38 large ones in a single day for a party (hence it's named after her). We all loved this dessert, and it was a big hit with our clients, too. The chocolate cakes get a flavor boost from dark rum and instant espresso. They puff up slightly in the oven, then set into a delicate, truffle-like consistency as they cool. I used a pastry bag fitted with small leaf and star tips to decorate the tops with Swiss-meringue buttercream.
For the white layer cake, our Raspberry-and-Custard-Filled Vanilla Heart Cake, we enriched a light genoise-like batter (a European sponge made with eggs and butter) with fresh vanilla bean for extra flavor, and crème fraîche for richness. We sandwiched vanilla pastry cream and fresh raspberries between the layers (strawberries would also be tasty), then artfully arranged more fruit on top.
Neither of these gorgeous desserts is really difficult to make, so I hope you will enjoy them with your loved ones. Happy Valentine's Day!
A Berry Sweet How-to
To make our raspberry-and-cream-filled confection, you'll need a 10-inch heart-shaped pan ($11.49, amazon.com), a long serrated knife to cut the cake into two layers, a 4 1/2-to-5-inch heart cookie cutter, and an offset spatula to spread the icing easily. Let the cake cool completely, then follow these steps to assemble and decorate it.
Slice Cake Horizontally
Then stamp out a smaller heart from the center of one layer. Spread pastry cream over the other half and top with berries.
Spread More Cream
Dollop more of the pastry-cream mixture over the berries, and gently smooth it so they are covered.
Stack and Chill
Place the layer with the cutout on top, bottom-side up. Refrigerate cake for about two hours to firm up the filling before frosting.
Ice Top and Sides
Our crème-fraîche frosting contains gelatin, so it stays silky when spreading. Fill the hollow with more pastry cream, then smooth it out.
Coat with Coconut
Sprinkle the top heart border with sweetened, shredded coconut that has been baked for a few minutes to remove excess moisture.
Finish with Berries
Fill the hollow with whole raspberries. Start by outlining the small heart shape, then work inward to cover it.
Makeup by Daisy Toye; Tracksuit by Suzie Ko.
Martha Stewart Living, January/February 2022