Thursday, February 11, 2021

Valentine’s Chocolate Cake – two ways #ValentinesDay

 From Mary Jane Maffini

This cake shows up most Valentine’s Days around here.  It is our standard winter birthday cake as well as our Valentine’s fave, although heart-shaped sugar cookies are always well-received. Valentine’s Day is a bit of a family affair for us.  My mother first produced this chocolate cake when my kids were young.  Four generations of our family have not only eaten it but have learned to bake it too. By the time we're finished some of us usually have cocoa on our eyebrows and flour, well, everywhere.  Naturally, it's all worth it. This year, no kids can join us to help with cake or cupcakes, but I made this batch of both and that batch has already been dispatched.  More to come for February 14th.  What about you?  Do you have any lovey-dovey or family traditions for Valentine’s Day that you’d like to share? 


¼ cup butter

¼ cup shortening

2 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 extra large eggs, at room temperature

1 ¾ cups flour

¾ cup good cocoa (we use Penzey’s)

¾ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1 ¾ cups milk


Grease and flour two heart shaped cake pans or two dozen heart shaped cupcake forms. Of course, you can use nine-inch round cake pans and any muffin tins for these. These directions are for one recipe. BUT because I only had 1 heart-shaped cake pans and one dozen heart shaped muffin forms, I made the recipe twice. There are lots of takers for the product around here. Good thing it’s easy!

Cream butter, shortening, sugar and vanilla in a stand mixer until fluffy. 

Blend in eggs. 

Combine the dry ingredients 

Add to butter/sugar/egg mixture alternating with milk, one third at a time.

Pour into prepared pans.

 Bake, about 20 minutes for cupcakes and 30 minutes for cake. 

Test with a skewer to make sure the cake and/or cupcakes are cooked.

Cool before removing. 

Mocha buttercream icing

Ice with your favorite frosting. Everyone here likes mocha buttercream icing. Here’s our recipe for that.

Mocha Buttercream Icing


1 cup butter, softened

2 cups icing sugar

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup strong coffee


Mix the softened butter with the icing sugar until creamy.

Mix the cocoa powder with the coffee and vanilla and stir until well blended (a minute or two)

Add to the butter/sugar mixture and beat until smooth.

There you have it.

I slathered it on the first layer. 

And then smoothed it along the top and the sides.  

A dusting of pink sprinkles dresses it up for Valentine’s Day or whatever your cake-eating event.  

I also iced about half the cupcakes. Some just had a sprinkle of icing sugar for those who don’t love icing. 

Now I’m in everyone’s good books!  

Don’t forget to come by and let me know if you have any Valentine’s Day traditions.

Mary Jane Maffini is the award-winning author of three and a half mystery series: the Camilla Maffini mysteries, the Fiona Silk capers and the Charlotte Adams mysteries – number six coming soon!  The Charlotte Adams books have recently been optioned for television films. Details to come when they can be made public. With her daughter Victoria Maffini, MJ collaborated on The Book Collector Mysteries as Victoria Abbott. Victoria Abbott spent several happy years on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. MJ  is very glad to be back and Victoria is waving at you all!

Don't forget to check out MJ's Canadian books:  Camilla MacPhee features a fortyish widowed lawyer who runs an advocacy agency for victims of violent crime, in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. Life would be easier if she didn't have the world's worst office assistant, the world's bossiest sisters and, arguably, the world's greatest stubborn streak. If you like your mysteries a bit edgy with a side order of humor, these could be for you.  

Keep up on the news!  You can sign up for updates about MJ and Victoria plus fun and prizes through our newsletter HERE 


  1. We don’t do anything special for Valentines Day
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

  2. Sandy, I think the world is half and half on that! You have given me a good idea of a question to ask in future! Happy Thursday. Hugs MJ

  3. Mary Jane - Any excuse to eat cake gets a thumbs-up from me, and I love the idea that your chocolate heart has become a family tradition. I could eat a slice right now for breakfast. As far as our traditions, we hug our cats and each other every Feb. 14. It's a good day to make sweethearts of everyone, including our furry friends. Have a delicious Valentine's weekend. ~ Cleo

    1. Thanks, Cleo! We sometimes do something special for our three silly dogs but they really love cuddles every day. Hugs. MJ

  4. These are so cute! I've never been big on Valentine's Day, but cake is always a good idea.

    1. I agree, Mia! Cake IS always a good idea. Hugs. MJ

  5. We give cards to each other and I plan a special meal. It may be a rack of lamb this year. They are on sale at Aldi's and my husband and I and our granddaughter love lamb. Our daughter doesn't, but she's working at Seasons 52 Sunday, so I don't need to plan around her.
    I want a sweet treat, but I don't want the temptation of a whole cake (or it's equivalent) to eat.

  6. I love lamb too, but DH really doesn't. It's my go to in restaurants. I'll be thinking of your dinner on Valentine's Day. It will be seafood casserole here. Hugs. MJ