Nothing says “Valentine’s Day” quite like those candy hearts bearing romantic phrases: “Love You,” “Call Me,” and our favorite — “Be Mine.” But much of the time, the sentiment is sweeter than the candies’ chalky flavor — enter this cake, a large-scale conversation heart that allows us to indulge in Valentine’s Day sentiment while also appealing to a slightly more sophisticated palate. Putting the cake together is a simple matter of geometry: a square plus two half circles equals a perfect heart.
For the Cake
- 1 1⁄4 cups seedless raspberry jam
- 3 tbsp. Grand Marnier
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 (8") square chocolate cake, cooled and unfrosted
- 1 (8") circular chocolate cake, cooled and unfrosted
For the Fondant Icing
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. powdered gelatin
- 4 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1⁄4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. glycerin
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 15-20 drops food coloring in your choice of color (we used red)
- Food grade decorative paint in the color of your choosing (we used red)
Cook raspberry jam in a small saucepan over low heat until reduced to 3⁄4 cup, 35-40 minutes.
Make the fondant: Sprinkle gelatin into 1⁄8 cup water in a small saucepan. Set aside for 5 minutes, then heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until gelatin is dissolved, about 1 minute. Cover to keep warm. Place sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add corn syrup and glycerin without mixing. Pour the warm gelatin into the well and mix with a lightly greased rubber spatula until dough becomes too stiff to stir. Add red food coloring. Spray hands with cooking spray or rub with a small amount of oil. Knead in bowl until all sugar is incorporated. Transfer dough to a lightly greased surface and continue kneading until smooth and satiny and dye is evenly distributed. Fondant should be the texture of clay (add a few drops of water is it's too dry; if too sticky, add a bit more sugar). Shape into a ball, flatten and wrap in plastic. Set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Make the cake: Trim domed tops of cakes and reserve trimmings for another use. Place square cake with the bottom facing up onto your chosen serving platter or cake stand, arranged diagonally so a point is at the top. Cut round cake evenly in half, and place one hemisphere on either side of upper diagonal edge of the square cake to form a heart shape. Mix Grand Marnier and vanilla in a small bowl and brush lightly over cake surface.
Dust your work surface lightly with cornstarch and roll out fondant into an 18" round approximately 1⁄8" thick. Rolling fondant loosely over your rolling pin, lift fondant onto heart cake and unroll, molding with your hands to form a smooth surface. Trim excess fondant base. If you have any cracks, tears or areas of cake that aren't covered, moisten the edges of the fondant with water and press fondant scraps over top, smoothing with more water as needed.
Using a stencil or working freehand, cut out letters from the fondant trimmings to form your cake's candy heart message. Paint over letters with edible paint. Place on center of cake, pressing to set. Allow fondant and paint to dry before serving.
NOTE: For the cake pictured, we used our recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake, but any standard cake recipe will do, chocolate or not.