I…like millions of people I’m sure, hate Valentines Day. I know that’s an intense way to describe a holiday meant to commemorate the love we share for our family, and friends, but “hate” is the best way to express my feelings on the subject.
It’s not because I don’t have someone in my life who I love and want to celebrate it with either , because I do (pan left to Jonathan, my salt and pepper haired pajama-clad boyfriend with his hand tucked in his pants a la Al Bundy….sexy, right?). It’s because there’s so much pressure to do something “special” on this one day and that’s supposed to signify our love and affection for the people we care about most….and if we screw up or fail at dazzling each other….our love is somehow tainted. It’s an evil test, and one that I seem to fail year after year.
Where is this coming from? Well I haven’t had the greatest success in the past. It’s true I’ve been bad about ordering flowers before the shops have sold out of everything but random dyed carnations and wilted lilies. And yes, I’m guilty of trying to make a reservation at the last minute when there’s nothing left but a seat at the Olive Garden in South San Francisco. But it’s not about screwing up on V-Day. It’s about taking a stand against the ridiculous societal norms of February 14th.
Why should we make ourselves crazy this one day just to say “I love you” when we can do it for free and without the exorbitantly high pre fixe menus.
With that caveat, I’m going to try and be less of a curmudgeon this year and embrace the celebration, because clearly I don’t seem to be winning this battle. So I’m sharing this new recipe with you all, especially those of you who DO have an appreciation for V-Day. These heart-shaped cake balls are made with white cake, shredded coconut and maraschino cherries. I chose to cover them in semi-sweet chocolate, but I think a darker more bitter chocolate would probably compliment the sweet centers better.
Oh, and if you can’t tell, I struggled with coating these delicious morsels. I tempered the chocolate but it wasn’t as gooey as I would have liked and it didn’t melt and fall down the sides of the hearts like I’d planned. Oh well, I guess I have another year to perfect it. Regardless, they taste amazing…enjoy!
- 1 box of Duncan Hines Classic White cake
- ¼ cup vegetable/canola oil
- 1 cup water
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup shredded and sweetened coconut
- 1 cup of maraschino cherries chopped
- 12 oz tub of Betty Crocker whipped cream cheese frosting
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 24 oz of semi-sweet chocolate (I used Nestle Toll House)
*Special equipment needed for this recipe is a heart-shaped candy or cookie mold of whatever desired size you’d like your end product to be.
Preheat the oven to 350° and follow the instructions on the box of cake mix for baking the cake. The only difference is that you’re going to add the almond extract to the batter before you finish mixing it and pouring it into your baking pans.
The cake will be done baking when a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean (IE: there’s no wet batter stuck to it). Let the cake cool for about 5 minutes before you move on to the next step.
When the cake is cool enough for you to handle it, begin breaking the cake up into chunks and place them in a large mixing bowl. Try to avoid using any pieces of the cake that are crunchy or hard, like the edges because those will cause irregularities later on.
Drain the cherries of their juices and chop them up.
To the bowl of the broken cake pieces, add the entire contents of the frosting tub, the chopped cherries, and coconut. Mash everything together with a large fork until everything is well combined. The mixture should feel moist and hold it’s shape when pressed together.
Roll/press the mixture out in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can easily put it in the freezer too if you have the space.
Once cooled, press your heart shaped cookie cutter into the cake mixture and pop the molded pieces out onto a wire rack. Press the remnant dough together and repeat the process until you’ve got the desired number of pieces. Place the pieces in the freezer and let cool once again for at least an hour.
There are many ways to temper chocolate but one of the easiest is to just place ¾ of your chocolate pieces in a medium glass bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Stire the heated chocolate and then heat it again in the microwave for another 20 seconds. Stir the chocolate again and microwave it again. Repeat the process until the mixture is silky smooth, glossy, and there are no lumps left. Then add the remaining ¼ of chocolate to the hot mixture and let the heated chocolate melt the last few pieces. The chocolate should be about 87° when reading a candy thermometer.
Now this is where I need some more practice, but I poured the chocolate over the cake-ball hearts and hoped the chocolate would melt down the sides and fall through the rack like a ganache would off the side of a flourless cake. But that didn’t happen. So I’m thinking it might make sense to just dip the hearts into the chocolate and then let them cool and harden on a parchment paper lined sheet in the fridge.
Once the chocolate is hardened you’re done!
- I sprinkled a little clear crystal decorative sugar on these while the chocolate was still warm….you could use anything to add a little decoration to the top of these. Maybe some edible gold, red sprinkles, pink sprinkles, whatever you’d like.
- The almond extract is a great compliment to the cherries, but if you don’t like that almond extract or marzipan taste, then you could leave the extract out completely or try coconut extract in the cake batter.
- Might consider drizzling the chocolate over these and cover most of them surface area allowing some of the pink interior to show through. That might be a prettier way to apply the chocolate then drowning them like I did.