A little late than never... but I finally got a minute to share my Valentine's Day dessert with you! With its cute heart shape and small batch size, this cake is not only perfect for Valentine's Day but it is also great for an Anniversary or a romantic dessert for two. You can also skip the homemade heart pan and make a classic round cake to use for a party or special occasion any time of the year. This dessert involves a little extra work than simply making a traditional cake, but is so worth it. It is inspired by The Red Velvet Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory restaurant, but with my own personal miniature small batch twist and the addition of my original DIY disposable pan to create a heart shaped cheesecake without having to buy a springform pan!
This decadent dessert consists of a creamy, rich layer of cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of fluffy, moist red velvet cake. It is then covered in a smooth classic cream cheese frosting and finished with red velvet cake crumbs to give it a plush, unique and fun finish. (Note that because the cheesecake layer needs to be refrigerated overnight you can prepare the layers in advance the night before and assemble before serving.)
I made the cakes and cheesecake in 6" pans to create a sky high layer cake, but you can also use 7" pans for a shorter cake with a larger diameter for more servings. To create a heart shape, I baked the cheesecake layer in a disposable makeshift springform pan I created in the shape of a heart. (How-to in recipe directions below.)
Place a pan of water on the rack directly below the middle rack where your cheesecake will be. This is used in place of a water bath, which keeps your cheesecake moist and reduces the chance of your cheesecake cracking on top.
Place your cheesecake pan directly above the water pan, and bake at 325 degrees F. Let rest in the oven, with the door ajar slightly and the heat turned off for about an hour. To create this layered dessert, you first bake the cheesecake layer and freeze it overnight so it is easy to handle when stacking your cake.
Bake round red velvet cake layers and use your frozen cheesecake as a template to cut your cakes into heart shapes and slice off any domed tops. Do not discard the cake scraps! You may also make the cake layers in advance the night before and freeze them to keep them fresh and also make them easier to cut.
You will then take the cake scraps and crumble them up to use for the outer crumb layer once frosted.
Stack your cake by sandwiching the cheesecake between the two cake layers. You do not need to frost between the layers as the cheesecake will act as a ceamy, rich layer of filling.
Frost your cake with cream cheese frosting. Don't worry about not getting crumbs in your frosting because we will be covering it in cake crumbs anyway!
Rub scraps of cake together with your hands to create red velvet cake crumbs.
Press cake crumbs onto freshly frosted cake.
Let cake thaw at room temperature before serving so cheesecake is no longer frozen.
Slice and enjoy!
Mini Heart Shaped Red Velvet Cheesecake Layer Cake
Yield: 6 inch cake
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature (do not use light or low fat)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cup cake flour
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, dutch processed
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature (click here to learn how to make buttermilk substitute)
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4oz (1/2 an 8oz package) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Create Disposable Heart Shaped Cheesecake Pan:
To create a pan for your cheesecake without having to buy a springform pan, simply use my original DIY disposable pan method.*
Simply fold a long piece of foil into one long strip about 2-4 inches high. Fold it in half to create the bottom point of the heart. Overlap the top ends of the foil strip and fold them together creating the top fold in the heart. Staple to hold the ends together and shape heart with your hands until you have a nice rounded heart. Take another piece of foil and place it under your heart. Fold the foil up the sides of the heart so the cheesecake cannot leak out of the bottom. You now have a heart shaped pan for your cheesecake that you can easily pull/rip away from your baked cake!
*If you like my "DIY disposable pan" technique feel free to spread the word on your blog/facebook/etc., but please make sure you give credit with a link back to this post for the complete tutorial. Thanks so much, can't wait to see all of your creations!
Prepare Cheesecake Layer:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease or use non stick spray on sides and bottom of a 6 or 7 inch heart shaped (or classic round) homemade disposable cheesecake pan (or store bought springform pan) and place on a baking sheet.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth. Do not over beat, this incorporates too much air into the batter, which can cause the cheesecake to rise and then sink during baking. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. On low speed, gently beat in the egg, until incorporated. Add the sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla and cornstarch just until incorporated. Pour cheesecake filling into prepared pan.
Place a baking pan filled with 1-2 inches of water in the center of the oven rack directly below your cheesecake. This will keep it moist and prevent it from sinking. Bake cheesecake in the center of the middle oven rack, directly above your pan of water, for about 35-40 minutes. Do not over bake. Cheesecake will be done when the center is still a little jiggly and the edges are lightly golden. Once cheesecake is done baking, you must let it rest. Turn oven heat off. Open oven door slightly and let cheesecake cool and set inside the oven for about an hour. The center will continue to cook and set as it cools down. Remove cheesecake from oven and cool completely on a wire rack on the counter top. Once cheesecake is completely cooled, place it in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.
Prepare Cake Layer:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or use non stick spray on two 6-inch round cake pans. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, making sure there are no lumps of cocoa powder. Beat in softened butter and oil on medium speed until the mixture resembles moist crumbs, about 1 minute. In a measuring cup, lightly whisk together buttermilk, egg, food coloring and vanilla. Slowly add half of the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and beat about 1 minute until batter is smooth and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add remaining wet ingredients and beat about 30 seconds until incorporated. Stir baking soda into vinegar (it will fizz) and thoroughly fold into batter.
Immediately distribute batter into prepared pans and bake about 25-30 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack. (Cover in plastic wrap and place in the freezer until ready to assemble if making in advance.)
With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth (make sure they are both at room temperature so you do not get lumps in your frosting). Gradually beat in powdered sugar until incorporated. Add vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
Place cake layers on a plate and slice off any domed tops to create flat cakes for layering, if necessary. Remove cheesecake from the freezer and rip away foil pan. Use frozen cheesecake as a template by placing it on top of the cake layers and cutting your cakes into heart shapes with a knife. Do not discard cake scraps.
Assemble cake by placing one cake layer on a serving platter or plate followed by the cheesecake layer. Place the second cake layer upside down on top of the cheesecake creating a perfectly flat top. Take your knife and run it along the edge of your stacked cake to create a smooth heart shape.
Frost entire cake with cream cheese frosting. In a small bowl, rub cake scraps together to create red velvet crumbs for the topping. Press red velvet cake crumbs on the top and sides of the freshly frosted cake, covering the entire cake. Let cheesecake layer thaw by letting cake sit at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve.
My DIY disposable pans are great for anything from brownies, cookies, cheesecake, to cakes! I've made small round pans, perfect for my small batch dessert recipes, like my Mini 5" Pumpkin Cheesecake With Maple Spiced Whipped Cream made in a parchment paper pan.
...or stick with the custom heart shape, like my Fudgy heart brownie made in my foil pan.
How about a giant heart pan for a Giant fudge topped cookie cake!