Valentine’s Day is once again upon us! I have a wonderful cake recipe to share with you for this occasion. This is the Chocolate Sweetheart Cake which is a delicious 3-layered chocolate cake with ganache and mascarpone pistachio filling. The holiday itself is centuries old, spanning rituals and customs from ancient Rome to the Victorian English era. These days, it is used as a celebration of love by many countries around the world, where gifts, flowers, and of course chocolate can be exchanged with a loved one. Whether you and your sweetheart dutifully celebrate it each year, or you are just happy for an excuse to buy some chocolate, one cannot think about this holiday without thinking of all the sinfully delicious chocolate. Chocolate has long been associated with passion and its reputation as an aphrodisiac goes back many centuries. While chocolate was once considered a guilty pleasure, more recent studies have shown that cacao beans are actually packed with antioxidants, so go ahead and treat yourself to the occasional indulgence!
A friend of mine gave me the recipe for the chocolate cake a long time ago and I wanted to use essences reminiscent of Persian desserts. This fantastic rich Chocolate Sweetheart Cake is made even moister by spreading warm, smooth ganache over each cake layer before topping it with a filling that is out of this world. The filling is made with mascarpone cheese mixed in with a lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a hint of vanilla and rosewater. Coarsely chopped unsalted pistachios are folded into the cream to create a flavor combination that is delightfully unexpected and so very delicious.
Greased cake pans are lined with parchment paper (leave two extensions on either side of the pan). Grease again and dust with cocoa powder.
Softened butter and sugar are creamed until fluffy and light. Egg and vanilla are beaten in. The dry and wet ingredients are added alternately to the mixer bowl, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
The batter is divided equally between the 3 prepared pans and baked in preheated oven
The cakes are cooled for 10 minutes in the pans before inverting them on cooling racks.
Pull on the paper extensions to easily release the cakes and peel away the papers. Cool completely before filling.
Make the ganache and let it cool for 10 minutes. The chocolate ganache should be lukewarm for perfect pouring consistency.
Meanwhile make the mascarpone and pistachio filling
To assemble the Sweetheart Cake, place one cake layer on the serving platter, spread some of the lukewarm chocolate ganache over the first layer, top it with half of the . Repeat with the next layer and top the mascarpone filling with the third cake layer.
Pour the remaining ganache over the third cake layer and spread evenly on the cake and allow to drip on the sides. Immediately sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Serve right away or chilled.
Happy Sweetheart Day! Enjoy this fantastic Chocolate Sweetheart Cake with your sweetie!
Bake Time: 20-23 minutes
Three 9-inch round cake pans
- FOR THE CAKE
- 6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- 1 large egg (room temp)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup (2 ½ ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder plus 2 TBSP for dusting the pans
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (room temp)
- ¾ cup sour cream (room temp)
- FOR THE MASCARPONE PISTACHIO FILLING
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese (leave unopened in room temperature for 2 hours)
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 1 TBSP rosewater, may substitute with 1 tsp vanilla extract (for a total of 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract)
- ⅛ tsp vanilla powder or ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup unsalted pistachio (divided- ¼ for the filling, 2 TBSP as garnish for the top)
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 TBSP sugar
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate coarsely chopped, I use Baker’s semisweet chocolate
- FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat oven to 350 F center rack
- Line the bottom of three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper leaving two 2-3 inch paper extensions at two opposite ends of the circle to be used for the ease of releasing the cake after it bakes.
- Grease the bottom and sides of the pans with butter flavor Crisco shortening (I have found this product to be the best for this purpose). Place the parchment paper circles with extensions inside the pans. Grease the paper. Dust the pans lightly with cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is used instead of the flour for a more even rich color and easy release of the cake.
- In a small bowl mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt with a whisk to combine well. Set aside.
- In another small bowl whisk the buttermilk and sour cream until smooth, set aside.
- Add the sugar and butter to the large bowl of a stand mixer. Use the beater attachment to cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop once to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk mixture, each time beat only to combine. Begin and end this addition with the flour mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Stop once and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl carefully. Make sure the flour and butter are blended in very well.
- Divide the batter equally between the 3 pans (about 14 ounces in each pan)
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; a few crumbs sticking to the toothpick is fine.
- Wash and dry the bowl very well. Chill the bowl and the whisk attachment in the refrigerator.
- Cool the cakes in the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Hold the paper extensions, lift off the pan and peel off the paper. Cool the cakes completely before filling.
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
- Coarsely chop the semisweet chocolate and add it to a small heat proof glass bowl.
- In small heavy bottomed saucepan combine ¾ cup heavy cream, 1 TBSP butter, and 1 TBSP sugar. Heat over medium low until the sugar dissolves and butter melts and the cream just comes to a very low boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes without disturbing it, then stir until very smooth. Set aside for about 10 minutes to cool a bit. The ganache should be lukewarm and at a pouring consistency. If it gets too thick, microwave it in 10 second increments until smooth.
- FOR THE MASCARPONE PISTACHIO FILLING
- Coarsely chop the unsalted pistachios. Set aside. Reserve 2 TBSP for the garnish.
- Add the heavy cream and 2 TBSP sugar to the chilled bowl. Whip at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add 1 TBSP rosewater and ¼ tsp vanilla powder or ½ tsp vanilla extract. (If you decide to use vanilla extract instead of the rose water, add 1 ½ tsp of vanilla extract).
- Increase the speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form.
- In a medium bowl add the mascarpone cheese that has been sitting out for 2 hours. Use a spatula to gently stir the mascarpone cheese.
- Fold in (do not beat) the whipped cream in small amounts to the mascarpone cheese until well combined.
- Fold in the remaining chopped pistachios.
- ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
- This cake is very moist, don’t lift the layers. Gently slide one of the layers right off the cooling rack onto the platter. Spread ¼ cup of the ganache evenly on it.
- Top the cake with half of the mascarpone filling and spread evenly. Slide the second cake layer on top of the filling and spread with ¼ cup of the ganache.
- Add the rest of the mascarpone filling on the cake and spread evenly. Top the cake with the last layer and pour the rest of the ganache on it. Use a spatula to spread the ganache evenly on top and allow it to drip down the sides. Sprinkle 2 TBSP coarsely chopped pistachios on top of the cake.
- This cake may be enjoyed immediately or stored in the refrigerator. Ganache will get harder when chilled but it still tastes amazing. If you wish to soften the ganache let the chilled cake sit in the room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Unsalted pistachios and rosewater maybe purchased in most Middle Eastern Markets.