Valentine's Day is for romantics, poets -- and chocolate cakes. Here, Lisa Yockelson presents a classic Devil's Food Heart Cake just for the occasion, and she has several more of the genre. DEVIL'S FOOD HEART CAKE (Makes 1 2-layer, 9-inch heart cake)
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
1 recipe Chocolate Frosting, or 1 recipe Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting
Lightly butter the insides of two 9-inch, heart-shaped baking pans (the pans measure 9 inches from the bottom point up to the top of the pan). Cut out hearts of waxed paper to fit the insides of the baking pans, press them inside, then dust the sides of the pan with flour; set aside.
Onto a large sheet of waxed paper, Onto a large sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter on moderately high speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar in 2 additions, beating on moderate high speed for 2 minutes after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often to keep the creamed mixture even-textured. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. On low speed, beat in the cooled melted chocolate.
On low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat only until each addition is absorbed, scraping the bowl frequently to keep the batter evenly blended.
Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. With a thin palette knife or small spatula, smooth over the tops, then push a 1/2 inch edge of batter up the sides of the baking pans, all round each pan.
Bake the layers in the bottom third of a 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle withdraws clean and the cake pulls away lightly from the sides of the pan.
Cool the layers in the pan on cooling racks for 3-4 minutes, then invert the cake layers onto racks to cool completely.
Cut 3 4-inch-wide strips of waxed paper and place the strips around the outside of a cake plate or other flat serving dish. Place a layer on the plate, cover with Chocolate Frosting; add the second layer and frost the entire outside of the cake, swirling the frosting in a thick layer. Let the frosting set for about 20 minutes, then carefully remove the waxed paper strips.
Special Baking Note: Chopped nuts may be pressed around the sides of the cake or scattered over the top; walnuts taste particularly good with the Chocolate Frosting on this cake.