Here’s the thing I tell everyone who asks me for baking advice (and lots of times even when they don’t). Flour, sugar, even butter…you can get away with buying the cheap stuff. You won’t be able to tell the difference. The thing that matters is the chocolate. This is not the place to skimp. Do yourself a favor and put the cheap chips down and back away. If you want people to swoon, you need the good stuff.
Here’s the thing about chocolate. It made of crushed cacao beans, cacao butter, sugar and a little bit of other stuff thrown in to make it stick together. The cacao is what makes it taste chocolate-y, which is what we are going for. So it makes sense the more of it in your chocolate, the better it tastes, right? So how much cacao is actually in chocolate chips? About 42-47% (this courtesy of Chris Kimball’s chocolate chip breakdown and taste test. Guess who won.).
Now look again at all those bags of chocolate chips. See the one that says 60% cacao on it? Aha, more chocolate! Easy decision. I use it for everything. It’s my secret chocolate chip cookie ingredient, I chop it up and melt it for cakes, I even make hot chocolate with it.
And with the holiday celebrating chocolate (and, oh yeah, love) coming up, I used it to make some sweet little heart shaped cakes. These are like the ring dings we had as kids. Except these are moist, and rich, and so much more chocolate-y. I filled them with buttercream (no shortening here) and topped them with chocolate ganache. Then I made some little cake flags for extra cuteness (If you like my little cake flags, you can download a PDF here).
Ghirardelli chocolate heart shaped cakes with cream filling
ingredients for cake:
makes about 10 mini cakes
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
- 1/2 c. Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 c. cocoa powder
- 1 c. brewed coffee, hot
- 3/4 c. bread flour
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 6 tbl. vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp. white vinegar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
ingredients for buttercream filling:
- 4 tbl. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2-3 c. confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 c. whole milk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
ingredients for ganache:
- 1 & 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1 & 1/2 c. Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray heart shaped pan with baking spray with flour, or butter and flour.
Finely chop your chocolate. Use a food processor or blender, or go old school with a knife and cutting board. Get it as fine as you can. Put chopped chocolate and cocoa in heatproof bowl. Pour hot coffee over chocolates, whisk to combine and cover bowl with a plate for 5 minutes. Uncover, whisk again and put bowl in refrigerator until just chilled, about 20 minutes.
Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a bowl. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into the cooled chocolate until smooth. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.
Fill pan molds 2/3 full (about 1/4 c. of batter per heart). Place on baking sheet. Bake 18-20 minutes or until springy to touch and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs on it. Remove silicone mold and baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove wire rack from under silicone pan and let cakes cool the rest of the way.
When cakes are cool, use a sharp knife to cut away any cake that rose over the top of the pan.
Respray pan and fill with remaining dough. Bake, cool and cut off the tops.
Once the cakes are cool, make the buttercream filling. Put butter, milk, vanilla extract and 1 cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth. Continue to add sugar, a little at a time, until it reaches a smooth but not stiff consistency.
Turn cakes upside down. The bottom will be the smooth top of the cakes. Use the wide end of a large pastry tip (or a knife) to cut holes in the cakes. Fill a pastry bag with the buttercream filling and pipe into the cakes. Use an offset spatula or the flat part of a knife to scrape off the excess filling so that the tops are smooth. Chill filled cakes in the freezer while you make the ganache.
To make the ganache, finely chop the chocolate in a food processor and put in a heat proof bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan until it just starts to boil. Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
To top the cakes, pour the ganache slowly over the top of the cakes, one at a time. Use an offset spatula to coax it over the edges. Pour enough chocolate to completely cover the tops and sides of the cakes. Let dry.
* a note about ganache: the temperature of your kitchen is a factor to how smoothly your ganache will pour. So if you’ve been keeping the heat at a responsible 68°, here’s your excuse to crank it up a bit.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.