simple sweets for your valentine

Five years ago, before baby honeybee was born, I made some treats for my husband to take to his work and share with his co-workers. That was back in the days, before homeschooling, when I had time for crazy activities like baking for fun. They were a hit, because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like chocolate?

They look like I spent all day in the kitchen, but I didn’t. I’ll take you on a photo tour and tell you how I made these so you can, too. When you present these to your loved ones, feel free to be dramatic about spending your precious time to make them happy because you love them so muuuuuch. Go ahead. I won’t tell.

Warning:  The photos in this post are terrible!  They were taken using an old point-and-shoot.  I now have a decent camera, but I cannot guarantee that future pictures will be any better.  Please don’t hold it against me.

The first thing you need to do before you can decorate the cake is to bake a cake. I’m sure you figured that one out. So grab your favorite boxed cake mix and bake as directed. Your secret is safe with me. Alternately, you can bake your favorite cake from scratch. Do whichever you want. I’m flexible.

heart shaped mini cake

heart shaped mini cake

To make this heart shaped cake, I used a strawberry boxed cake mix, ahem, and used a large heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut hearts for two layers. Hidden between the layers is a whipped ganache. Then I drenched the whole thing with velvety chocolate ganache and smoothed the edges with an offset spatula. A strawberry dipped in ganache adorns the top. See? Easy!

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For the heart shaped cake topped with 3 truffles, I used chocolate cake.  I used the cooled, leftover ganache for the truffles.  To make the truffles, simply roll the ganache  into balls and then roll around in cocoa powder.  A little whipped ganache in a pastry bag and piped around the bottom edge dresses it up a bit.

Do you see a ganache theme here? This is the recipe I used:

In a saucepan, heat 1 part cream to 3 parts good-quality dark chocolate over medium-low heat. When the chocolate is melted and completely incorporated with the cream, it’s ready.  If you remember nothing else I say, remember this:  Do not walk away from the stove.  If you do, the cream will betray you and will suddenly decide to boil and you will have a scorched, chocolaty mess on your hands.  I know you don’t really know me, but trust me on this.

While still warm and liquid, ganache can be easily poured over a cake for a smooth, shiny glaze. If you let it cool to room temperature, it becomes spreadable for fillings and frostings. Refrigerated ganache can be whipped for fillings and for forming truffles. Ganache is simple and versatile and that’s why I love it so.

baby cake with chocolate buttercream frosting

baby cake with chocolate buttercream frosting

This cake was make using 2 small round cake pans.  This time I made a chocolate cake from a boxed mix.  Don’t hate, appreciate.  I used chocolate buttercream for the filling and the frosting, then piped a simple edge with a pastry bag and star tip.  I’m fun that way.

all dressed up and ready to go

all dressed up and ready to go

What do you do with all the scraps of cake leftover from cutting heart shapes, you ask?

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You can do what I did and toss them in a mug, pour on the ganache, baby, and top with whipped cream!  My kids still remind me of how much they enjoyed these with hopes that I’ll make them again.  I’m not taking the hint.

If you’re making these treats for your family, they will love you forever, have the impression you have some mad baking skills and will hold you to higher expectations.  You’ve been warned.