Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Love Chocolate!

When I was in grade school, Valentine's Day was all about the anticipation of receiving valentine cards from friends and secret admirers.  As I grew up, however, I began to notice the real meaning of this holiday by watching my parents' special gifts to each other on this day, simple, but memorable.

My Dad would tell his story of how he met my mother for the first time in 5th grade at Bradbury Heights Elementary School.   He'd add that once, in the cloakroom, he stole a kiss and that convinced him of one day he'd ask her to marry him.  When my mother moved to Brandywine, Maryland, where my grandparents had bought a large parcel of land, my Dad told how he'd ride his bike over 15 miles to see her! They graduated from high school in 1937 from Maryland Park High School, but since high school only went up to eleven grades and they were only 17, both their parents told them they had to wait until they were 18.  On April 29, 1938, they were married in my grandparent's home.  My Mom wore a calf-length navy blue dress (that I still have today) and my Dad, a suit.

They honeymooned at Colonial Beach, Virginia, in the summer house of my great-grandparents, and had almost 50 years together before my Mom passed away in 1987.
Honeymoon Cottage at Colonial Beach-watercolor by Helen M. Tierney
I loved that my Dad always had a mushy card and a present waiting for my mother on the table.  Little gifts of earrings, a porcelain box, crystal figures, and once a beautiful crucifix that she wore always.  My Mom made my Dad a chocolate cake, in the shape of a heart, and dinner would be one of his favorite dishes; although, everything she made was his favorite!

It's this love,  I witnessed through the years, that I celebrate today with baking Chocolate Hearts, with a raspberry filling, and finally a ganache coating to complete the dessert for my sweetheart of almost 43 years.

Chocolate Hearts with Raspberry Filling covered in Bittersweet Glaze

Chocolate Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
6 oz. (1 cup) bittersweet chocolate, melted
3/4 cup Cocoa Rouge, or a Dutch-processed cocoa
2 cups Cake Flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream (not light or Fat-free!)
1/2 cup Whole or 2% milk

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray pans with a non-stick baking spray (I use Bak-klene from Williams-Sonoma)

In the bowl of the KitchenAid, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla, melted chocolate and cocoa.  (I used Cocoa Rouge which was so velvety smooth--however, if your cocoa seems a bit lumpy, be should to sift it before adding to the batter.)

Sift the cake flour and other dry ingredients together.  Add the sour cream and half the flour and beat to combine.  Add the milk and the remaining flour and mix, just until it is combined.

If you're using 8" or 9" cake pans, divide batter evenly between them.  Using this dual heart pan, I was able to make eight 4" cakes.  Bake layer cakes approximately 33-35 minutes and individual cakes 20-22 minutes (mine took exactly 22 minutes).  Check if they're done, using a toothpick in the center should come out cleanly and with lightly pressing your fingertips on top, the cake should spring back when touched.   Let cool, 5-7 minutes before inverting them a rack to cool completely.
 While cakes are cooling, mix up the Chocolate Buttercream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
10 oz. ( 1 3/4 cup approx) bittersweet chocolate, chopped or use chips
1/4 cup Light Karo Syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1 /2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
10 T (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, heat the heavy whipping cream, Karo syrup and salt.  Measure the bittersweet chocolate into a food processor.  When cream comes to a low boil, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips.  Let sit a few minutes, then, pulse several times to combine.  Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and pulse again to combine.  With the machine running, add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together.  Scrape the bowl down and pulse once more, then, pour into a glass bowl and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

The consistency is almost like chocolate pudding.

Chocolate Glaze:

12 oz. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
12 oz. (2 cups approx) bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (chopped or use chips)

In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Add the chocolate and stir to completely combine.
Pour into a large glass measuring cup. (Having a spout to pour the glaze will be helpful, but you can spoon it over the cakes.
1 can (15 oz) Raspberry Pie Filling
Slice the cakes in half, using a serrated knife.
Fill a piping bag with a #8 tip with the Chocolate Buttercream and create a "dam" around the outer edges to hold the raspberry filling.
Add raspberry pie filling inside--for this size, it took about 1 1/2 tablespoons.

Place the tops back on.  Apply a "crumb coat" of chocolate buttercream completely over the filled cake.
Place crumb coated cake(s) on a parchment lined pan and refrigerate 30-45 minutes. 
Set up glazing on a rack over a large bowl.  This will catch the overage and you can use the glaze again.
Remove cake, when the glaze is finished dripping to a parchment lined larger rack.
To serve:  I pressed the remaining raspberry filling through a sieve to give a sauce.  I filled a bottle with the raspberry sauce and added some dots around a clear glass dish.  Use a toothpick to drag through the dots to create little hearts.
Set an individual cake on the plate and watch the smiles!
Our little Maddie helps her Mommy make Valentine cookies using the recipe from my grandparents.

I had a great example of what a love story should be with my parents and I'd love to hear from you, your special memories of the day.  HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY ! Enjoy!


  1. happy valentine's day! there don't celebrate here in australia, so quinn will not receive any valentines from friends at school. oh coarse we celebrate here at home, and he did make one for his little girlfriend. when he gave it to her this morning he said, "don't you have one for me." so sweet.

  2. Susan
    I just love your story about your parents. It made me cry. I hope you and Chuck have a nice day tomorrow. Thank you for the inspiration. sending lots and lots of love.

  3. What a beautiful love story! I don't have lovely childhood memories to share; BUT I'm making my own love story memories now. :D
    XOXO -mary

  4. I loved seeing the picture of Mom and Dad and hearing again about their love story. And you really outdid yourself making this beautiful cake!! It must have taken you all day but the results were stunning. Bet it tasted mighty good too! I gained ten pounds just looking at it!! Happy Valentine's Day to you and Chuck. We are going to the matinee to see The Kings Speech. Love you, Barb

  5. I knew your post today would be wonderful.. and you didn't let me down! Your story was beautiful..your parents picture is beautiful and the cake you made for your love is beautiful and tasty I bet. It looks amazing. I will be trying this one out for my love and all my little loves. We exchanged all home made Valentines and baked some lovely heart shaped cookies today... a little tradition for us.
    Happy Valentines Day to you!

  6. My dear friend, I am so very blessed to know the love that is in your heart. Thank you so much for your friendship! Your story is absolutely beautiful and the cake... well my family and I thank you!!!
    Much love!

  7. What a lovely treat for Valentine's Day!