Valentine’s Day Conversation Heart Cake

Childhood throwback!

I can’t think about Valentine’s day candy without thinking about these candies. Honestly…the candy in and of itself is….really not that awesome. When I was little, all sugar was pretty much equal and I loved it all! My taste buds have matured with age, but the connection between Conversation Hearts and Valentine’s Day will probably always be embedded in my brain.

The good news – Conversation Heart CAKES taste waaay better than the plain candy! I filled the cake with about a cup of the candy so it spills everywhere when you cut into the cake – suuper fun! Recipe below!

 

Colored Cake Layers:

Note - this is a slightly-simplified layer cake recipe from ChelSweets.com - I highly recommend checking out her site if you haven't before; it's amazing!! 

3 1/4 c.  all purpose flour
3 c.  granulated sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t.  salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
5 eggs 
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil
2-3 drops each teal, pink, and yellow Americolor gel food color

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8 inch round pans with parchment rounds, and/or grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in eggs and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide batter evenly between three bowls (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). Add teal, pink, and yellow food coloring to each of the layers. Transfer the batter to each of the prepared cake pans.This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.

Bake for 35-37 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.

If you’d like to fill the center of your cake with candies, use a glass or medium-sized biscuit cutter to remove center from two of the three cake layers. 

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- small / large piping bag & small / large tips
- small box of Conversation hearts, plus about 2-3 more cups, depending on whether you’d like to fill the cake with candy or not

- large skewer or small cake dowel

- large piping bag / tip

- several small piping bags (or ziplocks) or squeeze bottles for the cake drip
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! 

Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler.

If you've cut centers out of two of your cake layers, those will be your bottom two layers. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting.

Fill the empty centers of your cakes with Conversation Hearts, add a layer of frosting over the second cake layer, and put the final layer on top!

Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.

 

This is a great time to make and color your ganache drip(s)!

White chocolate ganache drip(s):
I used a white chocolate ganache for this cake – I found my favorite white chocolate ganache recipe so far on ChelSweets.com!  

-2/3 c heavy cream

2 c white chocolate chips

1 small squirt gel food color – I used pink, purple, yellow, and teal; you can use as many or as few of the heart colors as you’d like!

Place heavy cream and white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring in between. Divide into as many bowls as you’d like different colors, and stir in gel food coloring. Note -

When your ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping bag. A spoon will work if you don’t have either of those, I’ve just found spoons to be a little bit more difficult to work with.

Slowly drizzle ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every few inches or so to let more ganache fall in a drip down the side of the cake – I spaced my drips much wider than usual and added one color at a time. Return cake to the fridge or freezer to set the drips.

Almost there!

Now you’re ready to decorate the top of the cake! Add a large frosting swirl in the middle, and a ring of small ones around the edge.  Insert your skewer into one of the top edges of the heart box,  flip it over, and press the skewer into the top of the cake (so that the box is upside down). Add Conversation Heart candy around the box, piling it high enough to look like it’s spilling out of the box over the top of the cake!

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

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