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Heart Shaped Chocolate Cake

This heart shaped chocolate cake recipe makes two, tender chocolate cake layers that are frosted with homemade chocolate buttercream.

It’s the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, a special birthday, or an anniversary!

image of a heart shaped chocolate cake that's been frosting with chocolate buttercream frosting

I have a soft spot for my chocolate buttermilk cake recipe, and this is essentially a small batch version of that recipe.

I’ve adjusted the recipe to create the perfect amount of batter to make a small, 8-inch cake.

Can I Make a Heart Shaped Cake Without a Heart Shaped Pan?

Short answer, yes! You can totally make a heart shaped cake without a heart shaped pan.

If you don’t have heart shaped cake pans, use a round, 8-inch cake pan. Use a ruler to mark two lines that are each 5-inches long to form a 90-degree angle like in the picture below.

using a ruler to mark a 90 degree angle on a round cake layer to turn it into a heart shaped cake layer

Cut the cake layer along those lines with a serrated knife. Press the cake trimmings against the top of the cake to make the top of the heart.

pressing cake trimmings onto the top of a round cake layer to turn it into a heart shaped cake layer

It’s ok if the cake bits crack a bit as you bend them into place. No one will be able to tell once the cake is frosted.

I like to use a bit of frosting to stick the trimmings to the cake layer, then chill the cake in the freezer. This makes it so much easier to handle and frost.

image of a round cake layer that's been trimmed and turned into a heart shaped cake layer

Making This Heart Shaped Chocolate Cake: Step-by-Step Tutorial

Let’s walk through each step of this cake together to make sure it turns out as amazing as possible! I’ve also included a video tutorial below.

I figured it might be helpful to know what tools I use too, so I’ve shared a list below.

Not all of these are mandatory, but they make the process a lot easier. If you don’t have all these things on hand, feel free to improvise and work with what you have.

Step 1: Bake the Chocolate Cake Layers

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line 2, 8-inch heart shaped cake pans with parchment paper and grease with non-stick baking spray.

If you don’t have heart shaped cake pans, use 2, round, 8-inch cake pans and follow the instructions in the section above to make heart shaped cake layers.

Make the chocolate cake batter following the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Bake the cake layers for 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs.

image of chocolate buttermilk cake batter being mixed in a KitchenAid stand mixer

Let the pans cool for 10 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around the perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.

Place the cake layers into the freezer for 30 minutes to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans, and remove the layers.

These layers bake up pretty flat, so leveling them is optional! If you want to level them, use a serrated knife to level the top of each cake layer.

If you make these in advance, wrap and freeze them at this point. Take them out of the freezer about 20 minutes before you want to assemble the cake.

Step 2: Make the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Next, we work on the buttercream frosting. I chose to make this cake with chocolate American buttercream because it’s sturdy and easy to pipe with.

image of chocolate hazelnut buttercream being mixed in a kitchen aid

However, if you want to use a less sweet frosting, I recommend making a batch of my Swiss meringue buttercream or 1.5 batches of my hybrid buttercream.

Add the cocoa powder and melted dark chocolate that the recipe card calls for into either of these recipes.

Step 3: Stack and Crumb Coat the Cake

Stack and frost the cake layers on a greaseproof cake board or flat plate. Use a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.

Spread an even layer of buttercream between the cake layers with a large offset spatula. Place the top cake layer upside down to make it easier to get sharp corners.

Add a thin coat of frosting around the cake to fully cover the cake layers.

image of a heart shaped chocolate cake being crumb coated with chocolate buttercream

Smooth using a bench scraper and offset spatula, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.

Step 4: Smooth on a Second Layer of Frosting

Then add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake and smooth using a bench scraper and a small offset spatula.

Chill the cake again in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.

image of a heart shaped chocolate cake being frosted with a second coat of chocolate buttercream

Step 5: Add More Chocolate into the Remaining Buttercream

While the cake chills, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave. Heat it in 15 second intervals, stirring between each interval.

Once the chocolate is melted, set it aside for 5 minutes to cool off so that it doesn’t melt the buttercream.

Use the melted chocolate and additional heavy cream to make 3 different shades of chocolate buttercream. Place each frosting in a piping bag that’s fitted with a plastic coupler.

Seal the top of each bag with a rubber band or clip and set aside.

image of chocolate buttercream in piping bags fit with couplers

Step 6: Pipe on the Details

Secure a small French tip on the darkest bag of chocolate buttercream and pipe a shell border around the top edge and base of the cake.

Remove the French piping tip, rinse it out, then secure it onto the lightest bag of chocolate buttercream. Pipe a similar border above the dark chocolate buttercream border.

image of a shell border of chocolate buttercream being piped onto a heart shaped chocolate cake

Then use a circle cookie cutter to mark semi-circles around the side of the cake beneath the top buttercream border.

Start at the bottom of the heart and work your way up to the top of the heart.

image of semi circles being traced around a heart shaped chocolate cake with a circle cookie cutter before being piped on with buttercream frosting

Place a very small round piping tip (like a Wilton 3) on the medium bag of chocolate buttercream and slowly pipe semicircles around the cake.

Make sure your elbow or forearm is anchored to the counter to keep your hand steady. This part can be pretty challenging.

If any of the semicircles turn out less than perfect, don’t worry! The cake will be chilled, so it should be super easy to gently scrape off the frosting and try again. I usually do that at least once on designs like this!

Pipe another layer of smaller semicircles above these. Place a small round piping tip like a Wilton 10 on the lightest brown bag of buttercream and pipe small hearts on the side of the cake where the semicircles meet.

image of details being piped onto a chocolate lambeth cake with chocolate buttercream frosting

Use the same tip and bag of frosting to pipe a message on top of the cake. I wrote “love you,” but you can write whatever you want!

Place the smallest round piping tip (Wilton 3) on the darkest bag of frosting. Pipe the message again on top of the buttercream lettering, then add tiny hearts on the side and top of the cake, to fill in any gaps.

image of a chocolate lambeth cake that's been decorated with chocolate buttercream frosting for valentine's day

This cake can sit out at room temperature for up to 2 days, be stored in the fridge for up to a week or be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Substitutions and Swaps – Chocolate Buttermilk Cake Layers

This cake recipe uses quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have them all on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this cake recipe.

  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour, but you can use a gluten free flour blend or cake flour if that’s all you have on hand.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture of the cake layers.
  • Cocoa Powder – I prefer using dark cocoa powder in this recipe, but Dutch-processed, black cocoa, or regular baking cocoa powder will also work great.
  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it in place of the unsalted butter in this recipe. Just be sure to omit the salt that this cake recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place (and also omit the salt)!
  • Egg whites – I use egg whites out of a carton to avoid wasting any yolks! You can also use 5 egg whites or 3 whole eggs if needed. Or if you have an egg allergy you can use flaxseed eggs or an egg replacer.
  • Buttermilk – You can also use full fat yogurt, sour cream, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat) if you’re dairy free.
  • Vegetable Oil – You can use any flavorless oil in this recipe. Canola or even sunflower oil would work great!
  • Vanilla Extract – Other extracts can also be used in place of the vanilla extract. Feel free to use almond or even coconut extract.
image of a slice of chocolate buttermilk cake a plate that's been cut into to show tender the cake layers are

Substitutions and Swaps – Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) will work fine in this frosting recipe too.
  • Cocoa Powder – I prefer using dark cocoa powder in this recipe, but Dutch-processed, black cocoa, or regular baking cocoa powder can also be used.
  • Dark Chocolate – I like using high-quality dark chocolate chips, but milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips will also work. You can use chocolate chips, chopped up chocolate bars, or couverture chocolate.
image of a chocolate heart shaped lambeth cake that's been cut into

Making This Chocolate Heart Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

You can make these cake layers in advance and freeze them. This breaks the process up and makes it more approachable. Cake layers can be wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to a month.

You can also make the frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in piping bags or an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

If you store it in a large container, be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

This cake can sit out at room temperature for up to 2 days or be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

image of a slice of chocolate buttermilk cake a plate

Tips for Making the Best Heart Shaped Chocolate Cake

  • Properly measure the flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to weigh it.
  • Ingredients at room temperature mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Chill the cake layers in the freezer for about 15 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes it a lot easier to stack and frost.
  • I used piping bags to decorate this cake, but you can also use Ziplock bags if you don’t have piping bags! I recommend using the freezer type because they’re a bit sturdier. Cut a 1 cm hole in the corner of each.
  • If you notice the heat from your hands is melting the frosting and changing its consistency, wrap the piping bag in a couple layers of paper towel or in a thin kitchen towel.
  • Make a vegan or dairy free heart shaped chocolate cake if needed! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the buttermilk and heavy cream and use vegan butter sticks in place of the butter. For the eggs, I recommend using an egg replacer like this.
  • Make sure the buttercream is the right consistency. This will help give your cake proper structure and make it easier to decorate.
  • If your cake layers turn out less than perfect, read my cake troubleshooting guide to see where things might’ve gone awry.
image of a slice of chocolate buttermilk cake being pulled from a pretty heart shaped chocolate cake

Making this Chocolate Heart Cake in Different Sizes

One batch of batter can also be used to bake 3, 6-inch cake layers, or 1, 9- or 10-inch cake layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes in a preheated 350 F / 175 C oven.

You can also use this recipe to bake a 9×13-inch sheet cake. It will bake up to be a little taller than an inch. Bake for 30-40 minutes in a preheated 350 F / 175 C oven.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make this heart shaped chocolate cake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Please leave a rating and comment below.

Don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets on social media so that I can see your amazing creations!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 16

Heart Shaped Chocolate Cake

image of a chocolate lambeth cake that's been decorated with chocolate buttercream frosting for valentine's day

This heart shaped chocolate cake recipe makes two, tender cake layers that are frosted with homemade chocolate buttercream.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 34 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 4 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake Layers

  • 1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (210g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • 1/2 dark cocoa powder (50g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 2/3 cup or about 1 and 1/3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (150g)
  • 2/3 cup egg whites or about 5 egg whites (155g)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (240g)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil (14g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (452g)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (12g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (750g)
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (33g)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (120g)
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate, melted and cooled - to be added one the cake is frosted (260g)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or whipping cream - to be added one the cake is frosted (80g)

Recommend Equipment

Instructions

Chocolate Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Line two 8-inch heart shaped cake pans with parchment rounds and grease with non-stick baking spray or homemade cake release. If you don't have heart shaped cake pans, use two, round, 8-inch cake pans and follow the instructions on how to do this at the top of this post.
  2. Whisk 1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt together in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Mix 2/3 cup (1 & 1/3 sticks) unsalted butter into the dry ingredients on a medium-low speed with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture looks like damp sand.
  4. Pour in 2/3 cup or about 5 large egg whites and mix on low until just combined.
  5. Mix in 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil, and 1 tsp vanilla extract on a low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula, then beat on a medium speed for about a minute to make sure everything is properly mixed together. This also helps lighten the texture of the cake layers a bit.
  6. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. I like to use a digital kitchen scale to weigh my pans and ensure they all have the same amount of batter. This guarantees your layers will bake to the same height.
  7. Bake for 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let the pans cool for 10 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around the perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.
  8. Place the cake layers into the freezer for 30 minutes to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans, and remove the layers.
  9. These layers bake up pretty flat, so leveling them is optional! If you want to level them, use a serrated knife to level the top of each cake layer. If you make these in advance, wrap and freeze them at this point.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the chocolate buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat 2 cups of unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment or hand mixer until smooth.
  3. Add 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp salt and mix on low until combined.
  4. Gradually mix in 6 cups of powdered sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, and 1/2 cup of heavy cream on a low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  5. Once the frosting is fully mixed and smooth, mix on the lowest speed for a couple minutes to help make the frosting silky smooth. Wait to add in the melted dark chocolate until the cake is frosted.
  6. If the frosting seems too thick, add in additional cream (1 Tbsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (a 1/4 cup at a time). If you're unsure how thick your frosting should be, you can learn what consistency you're looking for in my frosting consistency post

Assembling this Heart Shaped Chocolate Cake:

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board. Use a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Spread a thick, even layer of buttercream on top of the cake layer with a large offset spatula. Flip the top cake layer upside down to make the cake easier to frost.
  3. Cover the cake in a thin coat of frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  4. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake and smooth using a bench scraper. Chill the cake again in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.

Add Chocolate into the Remaining Buttercream:

  1. While the cake chills, melt 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate in the microwave. Heat it in 15 second intervals, stirring between each interval. Once the chocolate is melted, set it aside for 5 minutes to cool off so that it doesn't melt the buttercream.
  2. Pour 1/3 of the melted and cooled chocolate (roughly 1/2 cup) into the remaining buttercream along with 1 Tbsp of heavy cream. Stir until combined, then place 1/3 of the frosting into a small piping bag fit with a coupler. Seal the top with a clip or rubber band and set aside.
  3. Stir 1/2 of the remaining chocolate (roughly 1/2 cup) and another 2 Tbsp of heavy cream into the remaining frosting. Scoop half of the frosting into a small piping bag fit with a coupler. Seal the top with a clip or rubber band and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining melted chocolate and another 3 Tbsp of heavy cream into the remaining frosting. Scoop the frosting into a small piping bag fit with a coupler. Seal the top with a clip or rubber band and set aside.

Pipe the Details onto this Chocolate Heart Cake:

  1. Secure a small French tip on the darkest bag of chocolate buttercream and pipe a shell border around the top edge and base of the cake.
  2. Remove the French piping tip, rinse it out, then secure it onto the lightest bag of chocolate buttercream. Pipe a similar border above the dark chocolate buttercream border.
  3. Then use a circle cookie cutter to mark semicircles around the side of the cake beneath the top buttercream border. Start at the bottom of the heart and work your way up to the top of the cake.
  4. Place a very small round piping tip (like a Wilton 3) on the medium bag of chocolate buttercream and slowly pipe semicircles around the cake. Make sure your elbow or forearm is anchored to the counter to keep your hand steady. Pipe another layer of smaller semicircles above these. If any of the semicircles turn out less than perfect, don't worry! The cake will be chilled, so it should be super easy to gently scrape off the frosting and try again. I usually do that at least once on designs like this!
  5. Place a small round piping tip like a Wilton 10 on the lightest brown bag of buttercream and pipe small hearts on the side of the cake where the semicircles meet.
  6. Use the same tip and bag of frosting to pipe a message on top of the cake. I wrote "love you," but you can write whatever you want!
  7. Place the smallest round piping tip (Wilton 3) on the darkest bag of frosting. Pipe the message again on top of the buttercream lettering, then add tiny hearts on the side of the cake and top to fill in any gaps.

Notes

Tips for Making the Best Heart Shaped Chocolate Cake

  • Properly measure the flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to weigh it.
  • Ingredients at room temperature mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Chill the cake layers in the freezer for about 15 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes it a lot easier to stack and frost.
  • I used piping bags to decorate this cake, but you can also use Ziplock bags if you don't have piping bags! I recommend using the freezer type because they're a bit sturdier. Cut a 1 cm hole in the corner of each.
  • If you notice the heat from your hands is melting the frosting and changing its consistency, wrap the piping bag in a couple layers of paper towel or in a thin kitchen towel.
  • Make a vegan or dairy free heart shaped chocolate cake if needed! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the buttermilk and heavy cream and use vegan butter sticks in place of the butter. For the eggs, I recommend using an egg replacer like this.
  • Make sure the buttercream is the right consistency. This will help give your cake proper structure and make it easier to decorate.
  • If your cake layers turn out less than perfect, read my cake troubleshooting guide to see where things might've gone awry.

Making This Heart Shaped Chocolate Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

Make your cake layers in advance and freeze themIt breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.

You can also make the frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 785Total Fat 43gSaturated Fat 24gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 105mgSodium 336mgCarbohydrates 97gFiber 2gSugar 87gProtein 6g

Donna

Saturday 6th of April 2024

Is it common for the layers to shrink after taking them out of the oven?

Donna

Monday 8th of April 2024

@Chelsweets, Thank you for your reply. I used 2 Wilton heart shaped aluminum pans. When I took them out of the oven both had domes. One had a crack and appeared to be done and the toothpick was clean. They didn’t sink. In fact both ended up flat and a little over 1”. They pulled away from the sides of the pan a good bit. Your cake layers are my go to recipes and they normally don’t shrink that much. I weighed the ingredients and all were in date and fresh. They could have been a little cold but I had them out on the counter for an hour or longer. I took a couple of pictures I could send to you on instagram. I’m sure they are still yummy. I just wasn’t expecting them to draw up like they did. I’m definitely not complaining. As I said, I’ve made your vanilla and Oreo cake layers several times and everyone loves them.

Chelsweets

Sunday 7th of April 2024

Hi Donna,

The centers should not sink when they come out of the oven :/ I’m so sorry to hear that! It sounds like the cake layers needed a bit longer in the oven / like they weren’t fully baked! What type of pans are you using? Were all your ingredients at room temperature? Sometimes if any of them are cold, or if you’re using pans that aren’t light colored / aluminum, it can have a big impact on the bake time of the cake layers.

I’d recommend testing the center of the layers with a toothpick when you think they’re done. If it comes out with a few moist crumbs, it’s ready! If it’s wet or goopy, it needs a few more minutes. Hope that helps for the future!

Jessica Cox

Sunday 24th of March 2024

This is my go-to chocolate cake recipe (SO DELICIOUS, thank you) but I haven’t made it in the heart shape before! About how many people would this serve?

Chelsweets

Sunday 24th of March 2024

Hi Jessica,

So happy to hear that, and great question! This recipe is 2/3 of a batch of my chocolate buttermilk cake recipe, so I'd say it would feed about 16 people. Hope that helps, happy baking!

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Wednesday 7th of February 2024

[…] the dessert I made a heart cake from Chelsweets and put together a dessert […]

How To Decorate Heart Shaped Cake At Home | The Article Home

Wednesday 10th of January 2024

[…] to write directly on the cake. Whether it’s a heartfelt “I love you” message or a playful birthday greeting, adding a personalized message will make the cake feel even more […]

Naomi

Saturday 9th of December 2023

Hi Chelsey! I’d like to make this in a smaller tin. Would a round 6 inch work, if I cut it like you recommended ? Also, do I half the recipe for that size? Thank you.

Chelsweets

Sunday 17th of December 2023

Hi Naomi,

Great question! One batch of batter can be used to bake 3, 6-inch cake layers, and bake time should be similar (maybe a minute or two longer). Or you could make 2/3 of a batch and make 2, 6-inch cake layers. The math would be a bit finicky though. Hope that helps, happy baking!

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