Chocolate and roses are traditional Valentine’s Day fare. Combining them in a cake is the best of all possible worlds – served with tea, and augmented with pink champagne, of course!
Add in pretty pink china and we have a lovely (albeit chilly) setting for Valentine’s Day. The plates and cups are part of a tea set in Kew Pink by English Ironstone Tableware (eBay). I wasn’t able to glean much about the pattern, other than English Ironstone Potteries became English Ironstone Tableware in 1973 before going into receivership in 1994. So these pieces are post-1973.
The set came with four salad plates, four cups and saucers and the teapot. I shall keep my eyes peeled for creamer and sugar.
The Kew Pink salad plate sits atop a cream-on-cream Shell-Edge dinner plate by Wedgwood. I think they make a charming couple, don’t you?
But back to the cake(s), which were the impetus for the whole table.
I came across a recipe for a heart-shaped cake in The Perfect Cake by America’s Test Kitchen, made by combining an 8″ square cake with the two halves of an 8″ round cake, to form the heart. Much better than buying a specialty heart pan, I’ll grant you, but that’s one giant cake! Way too much for two people. I began to think about how I could modify the recipe to make a more manageable portion for two people. I already had 4″ round pans, so decided to scale the whole thing down to 4″ squares and 4″ half-circles. Voila – four cakes out of the recipe for one – enough to share the wealth with some happy neighbours.
The single-layer chocolate cake is moist but light – not a dense, flourless cake. The frosting is a Swiss Meringue buttercream base coloured and flavoured with unsweetened raspberry purée. The addition of white chocolate balances out the tartness and adds some structural stability to the frosting, otherwise threatened by the liquidy (and tart) raspberry purée. I tinted a portion of the frosting green before colouring the rest of it with most of the raspberry purée, reserving a portion to further darken some pink frosting for the deeper pink roses.
For the cake:
- 180 g (1 1/4 c or 6 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
- 64 g (2 1/4 oz) cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 225g (8 oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 170 g (6 oz) unsalted butter
- 300 g (10 1/2 oz or 1 1/2 c) sugar
- 242 g (1 c) buttermilk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 210 g (1 1/2 c) fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed
- 225 g (8 oz) white chocolate
- 5 large egg whites
- 300 g (1 1/2 c) sugar
- pinch kosher salt
- 454 g or 1 lb unsalted butter, in 1/2″ cubes, softened, at room temperature
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare four 4″ round cake pans and one 8″ square cake pan by greasing the pans, lining the bottoms with parchment paper, greasing the paper and flouring the pans. If using a high-quality baking spray, apply just before filling with batter.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate bowl, microwave the chocolate and butter at 50% power, stirring occasionally, until melted (2-4 minutes).
- In a third, large bowl, whisk the sugar, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until combined. Whisk in the chocolate mixture. Whisk in the flour mixture until smooth.
- Divide the batter between the pans, putting 143 g of batter into each of the 4″ round pans and the remaining 730 g into the 8″ square pan. That will give you the best chance of the cakes coming out at the same height, needing minimal trimming. Bake the small cakes for 20-25 minutes and the large cake for 35 to 45 minutes, Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edge of the pans before removing them from the pans and discarding the parchment. Let the cakes cool completely on a rack (at least an hour).
For the frosting:
- In the bowl of a food processor, blitz the raspberries until smooth (about 30 seconds). Strain the purée through a fine-mesh strainer placed above a bowl; discard the solids.
- In a medium bowl, microwave the white chocolate at 50% power, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth (1-2 minutes). Let cool slightly.
- Place the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl (I use stainless steel) and whisk until combined. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Continue to whisk until the mixture reaches 160°F or until it’s not grainy between your fingers.
- Transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat with a whisk attachment until you get glossy, room temperature peaks. Tip: hold a couple of bags of frozen peas or corn against the outside of the bowl to bring the temperature down.
- With the mixer running on medium-low, add small chunks of softened butter, one at a time. Take your time with this – let the butter incorporate fully before you add the next piece (5 – 10 minutes). Don’t panic if the mixture gets soupy. Just keep beating. You can’t overbeat it and it will come together in the end.
- Add the chocolate and mix until just combined.
- Remove 1 c of the frosting to a small bowl. You will tint this portion green to form the leaves on the cakes.
- Add about 3/4 of the raspberry purée to the remaining icing in the stand mixture. Reserve the remaining purée to tint some of the frosting a darker shade of pink for some of the roses.
Assemble the cakes:
- Using a serrated knife, level the cakes if needed. Cut the square cake into 4 equal squares. Cut each of the round cakes in half to make two half-moons. On four separate cake boards or pedestals, place two half-moons, cut sides in, against two sides of each square to make four heart-shaped cakes. Don’t worry about frosting the pieces together. Spread the tops and sides of the cakes with the frosting.
- Divide the remaining frosting and add the reserved raspberry puree to one half (you may not need all the reserved purée). Tint the white frosting with green gel food colouring (I used Americolor Gel Spruce).
- Fit a small pastry bag with a leaf tip and fill it with green frosting. Fit two more small pastry bags with couplers and use a combination of tips #104 (small rose tip) and #123 (small curved Korean piping tip) to make the roses for the cake. I piped the roses onto small squares of parchment attached to a flower nail with a dab of frosting, then froze them for a few minutes before transferring them to the cakes. Pipe the leaves between the roses.
- Share and enjoy!
Adapted from The Perfect Cake by America’s Test Kitchen
Be still, oh my heart! Happy Valentine’s Day in advance, all!
Almost forgot – the plates in the picture below. The white leaf plates are Foglia Stone Ware White by Vietri, the green leaf plate is antique by Gien (eBay) and the 9″ Inverted Thistle Pink cake stand is from Amazon.
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.