- Food scale https://amzn.to/3Of8Kj1
- 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 inch – heart cookie cutter
- 8x8-inch – square pan
- Standard loaf pan https://amzn.to/3hpmsEw
- Parchment paper
- Measuring spoons
- Mixing bowls
- Rubber spatula
- Wire Cooling Rack
- 150g (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) – non-dairy milk, I used soy, warm
- 1 teaspoon – white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon – vanilla extract
- 50g (1/4 cup) – vegetable oil, or any neutral oil
- 75g (1/3 cup) – granulated or cane sugar
- 125g (1 cup) – all-purpose flour, fluffed, spooned and leveled, see notes
- 1/4 teaspoon – salt
- 1 teaspoon – baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon – baking soda
- A drop of red gel food coloring, I used Americolor https://amzn.to/3jvyJbo, see notes
- 240ml (1 cup) non-dairy milk, I used soy, warm
- 2 teaspoons – white vinegar
- 1 tsp – instant espresso powder, I used King Arthur https://amzn.to/40fOzHX
- 100g (½ cup) – vegetable oil, or any neutral oil
- 150g (¾ cup) – granulated or cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons – maple syrup, Grade A or any dark maple syrup, see notes
- 250g (2 cups) – all-purpose flour, fluffed, spooned and leveled, see notes
- 1/3 cup (30g) – dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted https://amzn.to/3WXmHW9
- ½ teaspoon – salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon – baking powder
- ½ teaspoon – baking soda
- 28g (2 tablespoons) – vegan butter, I used Country Crock Plant Butter
- 50g (¼ cup) – semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 120g (1 cup) – powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon – vanilla
- 2 tablespoons – hot water, only use if needed
- Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Lightly grease and line an 8×8-inch square pan with parchment paper, and set aside until ready to use.
- In a bowl, combine all the wet ingredients, first combine the non-dairy milk and vinegar, and allow the milk to curdle. Then, add in the vanilla extract, vegetable oil, sugar (yes this is a wet ingredient), and a drop or more of red gel food coloring (get it to the desired shade of pink you want!). Mix until well combined and the sugar has been dissolved.
- In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix to combine.
- Pour half of the dry ingredients into the bowl of the wet ingredients, and whisk until just combined. Then add the remaining dry ingredients and continue to whisk until you get a relatively smooth batter.
- Pour the pink batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it as evenly as you can.
- Bake the cake for 10-12 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely before moving on to the next steps. If you are low on time, you can store it in the fridge, wrapped in plastic, until the next day.
- When the cakes are cool, take a small heart cookie cutter and cut out as many hearts as possible. Save the remaining scraps for snacking or you can make some cake pops! Set the heart cakes aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit (if it isn’t already on). Lightly grease, and line a standard loaf pan with a long piece of parchment paper. You want it long enough so it hangs over the sides of the pan, as they will act as handles to pull the cake out later on, set aside until ready to use.
- In a bowl, first combine the warm non-dairy milk, vinegar, and instant espresso. Wait until the espresso has dissolved and the milk mixture has curdled. Then, add in the vanilla extract, vegetable oil, and granulated sugar (yes this is a wet ingredient). Mix until well combined and the sugar has been dissolved.
- In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, dutch-processed cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix until well combined.
- Add ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the bowl of the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add another ⅔ of the dry ingredients and repeat. Finally, add in the remaining ⅓ of the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is very smooth.
Putting it all together:
- Evenly spread a bit of batter onto the bottom of the loaf pan, you want about ¼-inch thickness. Then place the pink heart cakes into it neatly in a row, making sure not to leave any gaps in between. Leave space in the front and back of the row of heart cakes. Make sure that the cakes are pressed into that batter.
- Gently spoon or pipe the remaining cake batter around and on top of the pink heart cakes, making sure they are covered.
- Place the loaf onto the middle rack of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove the loaf cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then with the parchment paper, carefully pull it out and transfer it to a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool fully before adding the glaze.
- In a small microwaveable bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together for 1 minute. Carefully mix until all the chocolate has melted together in the butter.
- In a medium-sized bowl, sift in the powdered sugar. Then add in all the melted chocolate and vanilla extract and whisk until combined. If you find that the texture is too thick, add small amounts of hot water. Continue to add small amounts of hot water until thinned as desired. If you happen to find the texture is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add more hot water.
- Slowly drizzle the chocolate glaze over the cake. Allow the glaze to harden before serving. This will depend on both the temperature of the glaze and the room.
- Cut into the cake to reveal the surprise inside and enjoy!
- Measure your flour correctly. I test my recipes, 100% in grams. A common reason baked goods fail is incorrectly measured flour. I always recommend using a scale for accuracy when baking. This greatly improves your chance for success and lessens room for error.
- If you measure by cups, avoid scooping the measuring cup directly into the flour. This tends to pack the flour into the cup, resulting in too much flour and a very dense or gummy finished product. Instead, aerate your flour (fluff it with a fork or spoon) and then spoon it into your measuring cups, leveling it with your finger or the back of a butter knife. Keep in mind though, that this method is not guaranteed to be accurate.
- Why do you use soy milk for baking? Soy milk has the most protein of all the non-dairy alternatives, so for baking projects that need a lot of structure (like cakes and bread), this is the best dairy-free option.
- Maple Syrup. Because I used a darker grade of maple syrup, it has more of a caramelly flavor which works well in this cake. Not only that, but it also adds a touch more sweetness. If you can’t find maple syrup, you can also use dark agave syrup. Try not to skip this ingredient!
- How long does this vegan chocolate heart cake last? Wrap this loaf cake in plastic wrap or a large zipped bag and store it at room temperature for up to 2 days or 1 week in the fridge.
- Can I freeze it? Yes! It’s best to slice it up and wrap each slice individually. Then store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Why did my heart cake move? There could be a couple of reasons why that happened. Either you had too much batter on the bottom of your pan, you didn’t firmly stick the heart cakes to the bottom, or you weren’t gentle as you poured the cake batter around it.
- Can I make this gluten-free? I have not tried baking gluten-free bread, so I can’t say it’ll work out the same.
- Gel food coloring. Unlike liquid food colors, gel food colors bring a more vibrant and clarity of color without the addition of a lot of unnecessary liquid. Use a vegan-friendly brand, I like using Americolor!
- You can make the heart cake the day before. While this recipe is simple to make, it does take time to make. So, I suggest I make the heart cake the day before or even a couple of days ahead. Just store the whole cake in the fridge in a zipped bag or saran wrap. When you are ready, you can cut them out and bake the rest of the cake!
- Adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in batches instead of all at once. Doing this ensures that the dry ingredients have thoroughly been absorbed into the batter.
Keywords: vegan, vegan chocolate cake, chocolate cake, valentine’s cake, vegan hidden heart cake