Conversation heart cakes made from a decadent black velvet cake and covered in classic vanilla cream cheese frosting – perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by HP. As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
conversation heart cakes

The.Boy and I have a very serious Valentine’s Day pact.



No Excuses Pact…


…to not do a damn thing on Valentine’s Day.

It’s pretty fabulous.


To be honest, I just don’t find overcrowded, overly expensive prix fixe menus romantic and thankfully neither does he.

I would like the record to state, however, that I will never say no to good chocolate. Never ever.

Hint hint.


Instead, we try to make time for a date night the week before or the week after when it’s less crazy and less stressful, and then on the day of?

We just…chill.

This may seem anti-climactic to some, but for us it’s just perfect. We eat a good (homemade) dinner, curl up on the couch for some cuddles and a movie.


And there is cake. Always, cake.

If you know me, then you know that I’m a bit of a red velvet junkie, as cliche as that may be. Sure it’s totally stereotypical on every level to eat red velvet on Valentine’s Day, but there’s something about that hint of chocolate, slightly tangy, ultra sweet and super red southern classic that I can’t get enough of.

Back in the day, the red food coloring was actually crucial to attain the cake’s signature flavor: because you had to use so much of it to get that vibrant shade of firehouse red, it inevitably added a slightly artificial taste to the mix. These days, with the advent of food gels, which require you to only use a tiny amount to get some BIG color, this is less of a “thing”. In fact, you could make a “velvet cake” that is just about any color. Even black.


It may not seem very Valentine’s appropriate, but when I saw this recipe for black velvet conversation heart cakes in Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays, and Informal Celebrations, they instantly stole my heart. An infinitely more delicious take on those chalky candies that I’m sure we all ate (begrudgingly) in elementary school at the class V-Day party, these are rich, delicious, and all kinds of cute. Plus, the messages on them can be personalized for that special someone. Bet your convenience store candy hearts can’t do that.

If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s an expert froster, so I hope you’ll excuse my slightly messy frosting job and give these a chance! A bit unconventional, but I used my Sprout by HP for the message writing part. I said it before and I’ll say it again – this is SO MUCH MORE than “just a computer”!!

Here’s how I did it: I found some images of candy hearts on the internet and then projected these onto mat part of the computer. Then, I put each cake on the mat so that the projection displayed on the top of the cake. Finally, using melted white chocolate and a very thin pastry tip, I used the projection to trace what I wanted to write directly onto the cake! For someone who does not have a steady icing hand, this was awesome and made it so much easier. I could see being able to use the Sprout in this way for all sorts of decorated baked goods, such cookies, cupcakes, etc.  There is no limit to what you can do with it!


Conversation Heart Cakes
Conversation heart cakes made from a decadent black velvet cake and covered in classic vanilla cream cheese frosting - perfect for Valentine's Day!
Yield: 6 double layer cakes
For the black velvet cake
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp black food gel (optional)
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp + 1½ tsp vegetable shortening
  • 1⅔ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
For the vanilla cream cheese frosting
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 8 oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lb cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 tsp kosher salt
  • food dye or gel (optional)
For assembly
  • 4 oz white chocolate, chopped
  1. Heat oven to 325F. Grease an 18x13-inch rimmed baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the two cocoa powders, water, and food gel. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and shortening until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add in the sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Whisk the buttermilk and vanilla into the cocoa mixture.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer in three additions, alternating with the cocoa buttermilk mixture. Scrape down the bowl and beat again for 10 seconds. In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and vinegar. Add to the batter and mix until just combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely in the pan. Place in the freezer for at least 45 minutes. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 4-inch heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out 12 cake hearts. Place hearts on the clean parchment paper. Put in the freezer while you make the frosting.
  8. For the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add the food dye to the frosting, if using and beat until completely incorporated. Let chill for 5 minutes in the refrigerator.
  9. To make the cakes, spread a thin layer of frosting over half the hearts. Top with another heart, bottom side up. Using a small offset spatula, cover each cake with a thin layer of frosting for the crumb coat. Transfer all of the cakes to a baking sheet and let set in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
  10. Remove the cakes from the freezer and frost generously, using the spatula to accent the heart shape. Refrigerate for at least 5 minutes to set.
  11. Put the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval, until melted. Scrape the warm white chocolate into a pastry bag fitted with the smallest plain round tip.
  12. Remove the cakes from the refrigerator and write messages on the cakes. Refrigerate once more to set, for at least 5 minutes. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cake

 More Valentine’s Day Recipes:

red velvet cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting

Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

red velvet and cinnamon layer cake

Red Velvet and Cinnamon Layer Cake

cherry chocolate chip cake

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cake

From Around the Web:

Chocolate Valentine’s Cupcakes from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Triple Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes from Hip Foodie Mom

Cutie Pie Pops from The Gunny Sack

Cupid’s Strawberry Float from Frugal Coupon Living

Lazy Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls from Grandbaby Cakes


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67 Responses to Conversation Heart Cakes

  1. Dixya says:

    I’m more of a stay at home during vday too… It’s just too much on vday..

  2. Johanna GGG says:

    black velvet cake – that is very elegant methinks – and the bon mots are so sweet – but surely it is not almost valentines day

  3. Sune Moolman says:

    Oh, I love that shade of pink!
    This black velvet looks freakin’ delicious!!

  4. Christine says:

    Love, just love your cakes and thanks for the info on gels for color!! Plus, Sprout is fantastic!

  5. We normally go out on Valentines day previously because it was the only day the Indian buffet was open for dinner and now because the one-and-only vegan restaurant near us has amazing strawberry cake that day. These restaurants aren’t the average person’s idea of a happy V-day, so it’s normally been pretty peaceful. I love that you used a projector to get the icing just right — my hands are shaky and my penmanship is AWFUL, so this is a genius idea to me!

  6. bellini says:

    I have never made a red velvet cake but it has been on my radar for a very long time; probably since I began blogging. These make it easier to take the plunge.

  7. June Burns says:

    Those look fantastic! So cute and I’m sure they’re deliciously chocolaty too 🙂

  8. Zainab says:

    We stay home ALWAYS!! Ain’t no one has time for crowded restaurants. And we always have desserts. This cake is just too cute and perfect!!

  9. Meg says:

    These cakes are so cute, and I’m sure they taste delicious! I’m also a fan of anything “velvet.” I made blue velvet cupcakes for a friend’s baby shower years ago, and the food coloring was so intense that we all walked around with blue teeth/tongues for the rest of the afternoon! Gels would have been a better option, I think . . .

  10. The ONLY thing I like about Valentine’s Day is chocolate and cake. Such a dumb holiday. Well, except for the chocolate and cake. You win. This is seriously so cute and smart!

  11. Monica says:

    Love the use of technology for your cake decorating, Joanne. I have the shakiest hand so maybe I should look into it. : ) And we always stay in for V-day dinner and celebrate early (Friday or Saturday night)…it is so much more relaxed that way. A great dinner with chocolate cake is the perfect evening.

  12. Joanne, it’s funny, we never used to do anything for Valentine’s day. . except like you, homemade dinner and a movie at home. But now that we have kids and do date night on a regular basis, we are going out, but a few days before. Never on the 14th. too crazy. And yeah, Paul never seems to remember the heart shaped box with chocolates, so I buy one for myself and the girls. gotta have my chocolate! and love these conversation heart cakes!! gimme gimme that black velvet cake!

  13. We are the same way with Valentine’s Day! Crazy, packed restaurants just aren’t our thing! Love these fun heart cakes!

  14. That’s what Alex and I do, too! Our anniversary is the week before, so we just make that weekend our big weekend, and watch a movie or something for Valentine’s Day. But chocolate is still involved, obviously. Oooobviously.

  15. We stayed in last year and hubby made steaks! It was one of my favorite Valentine’s of all time! Love these cakes!

  16. Umm…so, you are adorable. These are too cute!!

  17. Mira says:

    All your cakes are gorgeous, but these mini hearts are my fave so far! Love them!

  18. Heather says:

    Really cute idea! We tend to not go out for Valentine’s, but will sometimes exchange candies or something little. With kids, we’ve gotten more into it just because they do exchanges at day care. :p I really do love these little cakes, though!

  19. Pam says:

    My husband are the same way! I can’t stand the hoopla over Valentines Day.

    I do think those little cakes are adorable – my kids would love those for their Valentines Day treat and so would my husband.

  20. OMG YESSSSSS! These are soooo damn adorable! I love the size of them and the cute messages. Never had black velvet cake!

  21. danielle says:

    I love this – its adorable and perfect!

  22. Julia says:

    Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays I could easily do without. I’ll be with you and the.hubby doing squat on Valentine’s Day. These cakes are freaking adorable! I’m no expert at frosting the things, either, but I love how sentimental (and tasty looking) these things are! Bravo, sister!

  23. My husband and I are the same way about Valentines day. Your little heart cakes are perfect!

  24. These mini heart cakes are so adooooooooooorable!

  25. I couldn’t stand those chalky candies but, I lurve y’alls pact! And – these scrumptious and sweet hearts!

  26. Agness says:

    Wow, this cake looks super delicious and yummy and so so cute! I’m in love!!

  27. SallyBR says:

    We also much rather stay home… and this year it will fall on a Saturday, so EVEN BETTER! We can plan on a special dinner, take it easy and enjoy the evening…

  28. Kate says:

    I’m just glad they don’t taste like Candy Hearts!

  29. Date nights in are so much better and way less expensive. I’ll take one of those anytime! This cake is seriously cute! And so perfect for celebrating Valentine’s Day at home.

  30. My husband and I have the same pact because, blick. Honestly Valentine’s Day feels super commercial to me and the jewelry commercials make me want to barf. There I said it! 😉 But, cake? That I’m always up for.

  31. These are too cute! And by the way, we’re the same way about valentine’s day over here!

  32. This is brilliant. I am so making this… LOVE IT

  33. I am a BIG red velvet cake fan. Like I will never say no. It would be against the rules to! Wishing you and the boy a fabulous Valentine’s day! <3

  34. Oh, these soooooooo cute – Joanne – couldn’t agree with you more about Valentine’s Day – can’t stand going out to dinner that night and paying an arm and a leg for a meal you wouldn’t have chosen!

  35. debbie says:

    Those cakes are adorable and I love the hot pink color! I think staying home Valentines Day is the way to go. The restaurants are way too crowded. Love going out somewhere special another time….

  36. Betty says:

    Sweet little cakes for Valentines Day! We also eschew restaurants on Valentines Day- way too crowded! 🙂

  37. Hotly Spiced says:

    Gorgeous! I think your Valentine’s Day sounds just like ours. We like to stay home and enjoy a quiet night with perhaps a good video and some home-cooked fare xx

  38. Such a clever machine and I think black velvet is perfect for Valentines Day 🙂

  39. These heart cakes are just too cute!

  40. A black velvet cake sounds as good as a red velvet cake.

  41. Gorgeous cakes. Why stay at home its the best place to have dinner when you can cook

  42. We have a similar valentine’s day routine 🙂 The last few years, though, I have made pies. You may be convincing me to switch to cake!

  43. Oh how fun! Can I be your sweet heart 😉

  44. These are so cute! I love the idea of rich black velvet cakes and the shape/decoration is lovely 🙂

  45. mmm says:

    Those cakes look delish…I always buy tons of red stuff after Christmas and start my hunt for Cella chocolate covered cherries for my hubs of nearly 41 years, I could make those cakes and really be in heaven for all the year..I also get lindt chocolates on sale and freeze them and when valentines day comes my hubs has the best time with those has to plan, we never dine out ever, he worked retail for 40 years plus was never home on valentines day, I always planned a yummee meal no matter what his shift was or mine, boom he came home with a huge box of chocolates for me and our adorable tiny babydoll, she is now 37 and no one comes close to her daddy at all, she bakes, cooks and can sew like a designer, she is fussy and the fellow who will get her heart and soul will be just like her daddy. I always fussed over our only child and dressed her in red for most of the month of February and got her tiny little books she still has to read to her and she could read early about 3 1/2! miss smarty pants we kept her busy and smart..I love your blog, recipes and your thoughts on life and love. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY AND THANKS FOR THE RECIPES I WILL MAKE THE CHOCOLATE HEART SHAPED CAKES, FREEZING SOME FOR LATER IN FEBRUARY AND SOME FOR SWEETHEARTS DAY! ciao!

  46. What a gorgeous Valentines Day idea! I always express myself better with cakes 😛

    Choc Chip Uru

  47. We are the same way about Valentine’s Day and this year I am especially excited to spend the actual holiday home with pizza and champagne:-)

  48. Haha, same with me and my boyfriend. Actually, most of the time he’s away on that day (either in Russia or Toronto) so we couldn’t even if we wanted to. But this year, we are flying out to Vancouver for the week. So sort of an eventful day this year!
    These look amazing. Do you think I can smuggle them on the plane?

  49. These little cakes are the cutest! Love the black velvet! I need to find some food gel now!

  50. Danguole says:

    Oooh, black velvet is my kind of velvet! Your V-Day plans sound just perfect. Homemade dinner and relaxation is where the romance is at!

  51. These are super adorable! My husband and I aren’t really into Valentine’s Day either, especially because my birthday is a week earlier. 😛

  52. Susan says:

    What an adorable idea! The chocolate cake looks so moist and rich and perfect. You are such a wise couple not to stress over going out on Valentine’s Day to crowded restaurants with crabby servers.

  53. Wow what pretty cakes! These are super cute for Valentines day!

  54. Reeni says:

    Looks like you’re celebrating early! So cute!

  55. Totally in agreement with the way you choose to spend/avoid Valentines Day – completely resonates with me. As for these little conversation cakes … utterly adorable.

  56. Sarah says:

    These cakes are so cute! I like the black velvet inside – very mysterious!

  57. grace says:

    not only are these far more enticing to eat than those chalky hearts, i love that you can write just whatever your heart desires!

  58. Kelly says:

    We are the same way and always stay in for dinner with dessert on V-Day. Love this cake black velvet cake, it’s so cute and perfect for celebrating!

  59. these are WAYYY too cute joanne! love love love!

  60. hmmmm I’m not normally a red velvet fan but black velvet? I could maybe get down with that—plus…I mean…it’s an adorable heart cake!

  61. Those are the cutest things ever! My grandkids would love them…

  62. […] Conversation Cake Hearts from Eats Well With Others […]

  63. I’m officially obsessed with these adorable cakes! That HP thing sounds pretty cool too.

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