Chocolate Valentine's Day Bundt Cake

I often refer to this rich chocolate Valentine's Day Bundt cake, featuring a heart in the center of each slice, as my "magic cake." When people ask me how I got the heart centered on the inside of the Bundt, I simply respond, "MAGIC!"

Sliced piece of Chocolate Valentine's Day Bundt Cake in front of the whole cake and white plates

OK, it's not really magic. But...the Bundt is created through a pretty cool technique--one that anyone can do with a few easy tips and a good recipe (both of which are conveniently featured, below.)

Slice of Chocolate Valentine's Day Bundt Cake on a White Plate

Why you (and others!) will love this recipe

FYI: I bake a lot of Bundts.

Like, a LOT. I even wrote a cookbook on the subject, Beautiful Bundts, which features over 100 different varieties of in all shapes and sizes, sweet and savory. So, by now I consider myself to be a bit of a Bundt expert (and I have the Bundt pan collection to prove it!)

This Valentine's Day themed chocolate Bundt cake is one of my most requested recipes from the book. It's also one that I don't just reserve for Valentine's Day. Once you've learned the technique, you can easily switch up the center shape to match other holidays or occasions (stars, shamrocks, snowmen, little trees for Arbor Day...you get the idea.)

Slices of Chocolate Valentine's Day Bundt Cake.
Chocolate Valentine's Day Bundt Cake

How to make this Bundt cake

The "wow" factor of this recipe, other than the great chocolaty taste complemented by a smooth vanilla glaze, is the vibrant heart hidden inside each slice. In order to achieve this feast for the eyes, the recipe calls for two different cake batters. Don't worry, they use mostly the same ingredients, except for one.

For the first batter, you tint the vanilla cake red and spread it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once baked, you cut out heart shapes, which eventually become the "surprise" center of each slice. You then pop the hearts into the freezer while you prepare the chocolate batter. This makes the hearts sturdier and therefore easier to arrange in the next step.

Cut out heart shapes from the red tinted vanilla cake.

The second batter is a velvety dark chocolate. You spread one third of this batter on the bottom of the Bundt pan, afterward arranging the chilled red hearts on top in a tight circle. Finally, you spoon the remaining chocolate batter on top of the hearts before the Bundt heads to the oven.

Vanilla cake heart placed around the chocolate cake batter in the Bundt.

After the Bundt is baked and cooled, you simply glaze it, slice and serve! Here's a quick video tutorial to illustrate how this rich chocolate Bundt comes together, so you have a better idea of the process from start to finish.:

Frequently asked questions

What is the best way to keep a Bundt cake from sticking?

One of the most terrifying parts of baking a Bundt, am I right? Will it stick or will it glide out of the pan without a crumb attached? The best method that I've found for removing Bundts from their pans is to use a non-stick BAKING spray, such as Baker's Joy or Pam for Baking. Apply a generous coat to the pan, making sure that you get into all of the crevices.

Chocolate Bundt cake turned out of the pan.

Can you freeze a Bundt cake?

Yes! After baking, cool the cake completely and then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze the cake for up to two weeks. Thaw overnight at room temperature and then glaze as directed before serving.

What's the best way to slice a Bundt cake?

This one is a little bit trial and error. First of all, make sure that you have a very sharp knife--it makes a world of difference when aiming for clean, neat slices. I've found that a chilled cake always slices better as it is firmer. For this cake specifically, I try to remember where one of the hearts was positioned before baking and aim to cut through the center of it. The first slice might be a little off, but it should be easier to determine where the other hearts are positioned once you cut the first slice.

Slice of Chocolate Valentine's Day Bundt Cake.

Tried this recipe and loved it? Take a photo and tag me on Instagram or give it a review!

Slice of chocolate Bundt cake with a red heart in the center of the slice, topped with vanilla glaze.

Chocolate Valentine's Day Bundt Cake

Julie Hession
This rich chocolate Bundt cake features a special surprise once you cut inside: a perfect vanilla heart, making it an ideal dessert for a birthday, anniversary, Valentine's Day or any special occasion.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 18
Calories 547 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 12-cup Bundt pan classic shape
  • 1 18X13 inch rimmed baking sheet
  • 1 heart shaped cookie cutter at least ½ inch narrower than the interior of your Bundt pan
  • 1 stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or handheld electric mixer

Ingredients
 
 

Vanilla Cake for Cut-Outs

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 6 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • red food coloring gel paste preferred

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • ½ cup vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk room temperature

Vanilla Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar sifted
  • 4-5 tablespoon half and half or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

Vanilla Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray the 18 X 13-inch baking sheet with non-stick baking spray (see notes) and line it with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the stand mixer (or using your handheld mixer), beat sugar, butter and oil at medium speed for 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the vanilla.
  • With the mixer on low speed, alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour and two of buttermilk, beating until incorporated.
  • Beat in enough of the red food coloring to achieve your desired hue.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared baking sheet and smooth into an even layer.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until top is firm and a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert cake onto a clean work surface to cool completely.
  • Using your heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many hearts as possible, discarding (or eating!) scraps. Place hearts on a baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes until firm.

Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray your 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray (see notes.)
  • In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
  • In the stand mixer (with a clean bowl), beat sugar, butter and oil at medium speed for 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the vanilla.
  • With the mixer on low speed, alternately beat in the flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of the flour and two of the buttermilk, beating until incorporated. Transfer one-third of the chocolate batter to the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the top.
  • Arrange a ring of chilled heart cut-outs upside-down in the pan (so that the "point" of the heart is facing up.) Place the hearts as close together as possible, spacing each in the center of the pan so that there is room on both sides. There will be small gaps in between the hearts to account for the round shape of the pan (you probably won't need all of the cut-outs.)
  • Carefully spoon the remaining batter over the hearts, or use a piping bag as shown in the video, above. Do your best to fill in the gaps between the hearts. Smooth the top.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 55-65 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a thin knife or cake tested inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then carefully invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely (see notes.)

Vanilla Glaze

  • In a medium bowl, whisk confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoon of the half and half or milk and the vanilla until smooth. Add more half and half or milk if necessary until glaze is thick but pourable.
  • Pour glaze over the cooled cake, letting it drip down the sides. Let glaze set for at least 15 minutes.
  • Slice and serve!

Video

Notes

  • I've found that non-stick baking sprays are the most reliable way to get Bundts out of their pans without sticking.  Baking sprays differ from traditional non-stick sprays as they have flour mixed in, which mimics the classic "butter then flour the baking pan" technique.  
  • I prefer gel-based food coloring, such as this one from Americolor, over liquid food coloring as it produces a more vivid color. 
  • For best results, I like to store the unglazed Bundt cake, tightly wrapped in plastic, overnight at room temperature or in the refrigerator and then glaze it the next day.  I find that it slices neater that way, since the cake has had time to settle. 
  • You can prepare this cake up to 2 days in advance.  Store the cooled, glazed cake, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator. 

Nutrition

Calories: 547kcal | Carbohydrates: 90g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 443mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 475IU | Calcium: 131mg | Iron: 3mg
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