Six layers of Classic Chocolate Cake sandwiched with sweet yet tart Raspberry Jam and covered with a lighter-than-cream-cheese-froting Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream. Just in time for Valentine's Day!
Last week, my husband and I had a heated debate over conversation hearts. Oh yes. You read that correctly. Those little pastel hearts with witty cheesey sayings on them that taste like chalk. It actually wasn’t so much of a debate as a conversation because we were both on the same side. In the end, the question wasn’t about if they were good or not but more about how much was too ridiculous to spend on shipping.
You see, for some odd reason, we’ve only been able to find the sour Sweetarts kind. Even purchasing the off-brand packages feels like conversation heart roulette – will they be the chalky variety where the yellow tastes like delicious fake banana and the white reminiscent of those old candy cigarettes from when I was a kid or will we be met with the disappointment of yet another fruity, slightly tart bag of heartache? And don’t get us even started on those large ones that are equivalent to those gorss pumpkins in a sea of delicious candy corn. No thank you. The bottom line: we take our conversation hearts seriously in the Huff household.
What’s funny is, even knowing how much my husband loves simple things like convenient store candy and a really good chocolate chip cookie, I still find myself trying to go above and beyond (with little success thus far) when it comes to Valentine’s Day desserts. We constantly have a partially eaten cake in the fridge at all times and there is usually a container full of sub-par cookies/brownies/pastries on the counter after that week’s recipe testing. Dessert is something we have nearly every night as it is, so when it comes to birthdays and special occasions where a “normal” person that doesn’t make several cakes a week would bake a special treat, I try to make Brett something new and exciting instead of passing off my workweek’s leftovers.
The problem is, the desserts I’ve attempted to make in the past have been questionable, at best. Sometimes in trying to come up with something creative and original you just get garbage. I can recall the year I attempted heart-shaped raspberry s’more macarons (what?), the homemade candy bars with soupy peanut butter mousse filling (such a nightmare), and the disaster that was my first shot at making almond Florentines while tending to a four-week old. Why do I love to torture myself like this?!?! LOL.
This year I am committed to just making something that I know Brett already loves – that is, of course, if I can’t track down the right kind of conversation hearts. He’s so sweet though. Whenever I do have time to bake for “fun” and make something like chocolate chip cookies, he asks me to just make “regular” ones since, knowing me, he knows I can’t help try to switch up the recipe for no reason. So, “regular” chocolate chip cookies it will be! But with an extra pinch of Maldon sea salt, because I still have principals.
It’s no secret that I already made this Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake a few weeks ago for The Cake Blog. If it wasn’t cookies, then I would make this again. They stand for the same thing – underrated, unassuming treats that (if done right) are pretty much all you could ever ask for from a dessert. No fancy flavors. No frills. No unnecessary, complicated preparations. I find that I’m constantly trying to out-do myself with the next best cake or new ingredient or elaborate decoration. But sometimes, less really is more.
The weekend I made this cake I also made a simple vanilla cake filled with strawberry jam for one of Everett’s pal’s 2nd birthday. I was trying to appeal to toddler palettes and surprised even myself how tasty simple yet high-quality ingredients can be. Or rather reminded myself. The key was to slice each cake in half horizontally to make six layers that are then spread and sandwiched with sweet, fruity jam. This way, the jammy goodness is more evenly distributed throughout and almost “melts” into each layer keeping them moist and flavorful. Each bit was so good that I began questioning every thing I know about layers cakes (which is a lot) and if I should use buttercream as a filling ever again. Mind blown.
Head on over to The Cake Blog for the full recipe (including the Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream Frosting!!!), and be sure to send in any tips for where one can locate chalky conversations hearts before the 14th <3