Hidden Heart Valentine’s Pound Cake

Hidden Heart Valentine's Pound Cake gluten free BoulderLocavoreI have been chomping at the bit to get into Valentine’s food.  I have always loved Valentine’s Day.  It is such a happy occasion, just dwelling on love with the color pink abounding everywhere.  Ever since I was a child I’ve relished creating Valentine’s cards with secret messages in conversation heart candies and hours of artistry ensuring no one was missed.  There is a lot of Boulder Locavore love coming your way in the next few weeks and some fun surprises too so please stay tuned!

Valentines Heart Pound Cake BoulderLocavore.com

Sometime last fall a clever photo on Pinterest caught my attention.  There was no corresponding recipe or article so I’m not even exactly sure what it was.  It looked like maybe some seasonal bread with a spice bread pumpkin shape in the middle.  I was instantly smitten.  Loving anything ‘with a surprise inside’ I marveled at what a delight it would be to cut into a loaf of bread and find a pumpkin.*

As time goes, the whirlwind of the holidays whisked the image from my memory until recently when I was experimenting with some gluten free pound cake mixes.  Though I love to make everything I can from scratch, it’s not always possible in the life of a busy mom-blogger.  When I can I like to try out mixes so if I’m in a pinch I have a ‘go to’ selection and am not experimenting late the night before a special treat is due somewhere early the next day, knowing from experience not all gluten free mixes are created equal.

Hidden Heart Valentine's Chocolate Cherry Pound Cake heart BoulderLocavore.com

During my experimentation the bread-in-the-bread popped to mind again.  I also have a passion for figuring things out, re-engineering and repurposing so decided to couple the two endeavors together to see if I couldn’t pull off a gluten free Valentines-themed surprise.

I’m NOT a fancy baker.  I admire ‘Martha’ and the rest of the beautiful bakers out in cyberspace who create flawless confections that look to be made from porcelain but have come to terms with the fact that knack does not dwell actively (or dormantly) in my culinary DNA.  I’m more of a rustic dessert girl.  Being that as it is, I generally have low expectations that anything hinting at a fussy creation will work at my more broad-brush baking hand.

Hidden Heart Valentine's Pound Cake gluten free BoulderLocavore.com

After carefully engineering what I hoped would be an unexpected, smile-invoking confection I crossed my fingers and pulled out the serrated knife.  Mere words cannot express my excitement when cutting into the molten-brown, chocolately pound cake to reveal a brilliant fuchsia heart beaming from the center of every slice.  I witnessed the magic of the surprise on the faces of my familial taste testers as well.   As enchanting as is the visual is of this pound cake, the flavor is truly the star.  Deep, dark chocolate enveloping a glorious cherry-flavored heart.  Yin and yang, kismet, meant to be; two flavors comingled in their destiny to create a happy bite.

Cherry Pound Cake heart BoulderLocavore.com

Hidden Heart Valentine’s Pound Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Serving Size: Serves 10-12

A whimsical Valentine's chocolate pound cake with a cherry-flavored heart hidden inside. Sure to surprise and delight all! Can be easily tailored to any dietary needs based on the recipe or mix you choose to use. Note: Cooking and preparation times are estimates; actual time will dependend on the recipes you select.


  • Favorite Vanilla or Butter Pound Cake recipe or mix (1 loaf)*
  • Favorite Chocolate Pound Cake recipe or mix (1 loaf)**
  • 1/8 teaspoon Pink Food Coloring (I used Wilton Rose)
  • ½ teaspoon – 1 tablespoon Natural Cherry Extract/Flavoring
  • Supplies:
  • Heart-shaped Cookie Cutter (3 ½ inches at the widest spot by 3 inches tall)
  • Serrated Knife
  • Loaf pan


  1. Preheat oven to the temperature specified for the butter or vanilla pound cake.
  2. Assemble the vanilla pound cake per the recipe or mix directions. To make the brilliant fuchsia heart, add 1/8 teaspoon Wilton Rose coloring to the mix (if desiring a more tame pink, begin to add small amounts dipped from the container with a toothpick, mix and add more if needed; it is very concentrated coloring). Mix incorporating the color uniformly in the batter.
  3. Begin adding cherry flavoring by the ½ teaspoon until reaching desired flavor. Note: I used a natural Cherry flavoring and wanted a strong cherry flavor to stand up to the chocolate in the outer cake so ended up using 1 tablespoon.
  4. Pour batter into a prepared loaf pan. Bake as instructed in recipe or mix directions. Remove, cool and remove from the pan. Allow to cool completely.
  5. Reheat oven to specified temperature for the chocolate pound cake recipe or mix.
  6. Place cherry pound cake on a cutting board. Using the depth of the heart cookie cutter as a guide, cut the pound cake into slices the same thickness as the cookie cutter (e.g. my cookie cutter is 1 inch deep so I made slices that were 1 inch thick).
  7. Place each slice flat on the cutting board and using the cookie cutter cut one heart out of each slice. Set aside scraps.
  8. Butter a loaf pan the same size or larger than the pan used for the cherry pound cake. Place cherry pound cake hearts in the middle of the prepared pan; point down, back-to-back touching each other.
  9. Prepare the chocolate pound cake recipe or mix according to the directions.
  10. This step is easiest accomplished with a helper! Begin on one end of the loaf pan, with one person holding the hearts upright on their point, place a spoonful of batter on one side of the first heart and then a spoonful on the opposite of the first heart. Proceed up the pan in this manner until there is a small amount of batter on either side of all the hearts; this will stabilize the hearts and ensure they stay on their point during baking. Fill in the remaining batter on both sides and cover the top of the hearts. Note: the top may be rounded due to the shape of the top of the hearts.
  11. Bake the pound cake to the directions for the chocolate pound cake. Check for doneness earlier than suggested. Due to the pre-baked cherry pound cake center the pound cake may done earlier than if baking regularly.
  12. Remove from oven; allow to cool for 15-20 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing. Note: I found the gluten free pound cake sliced best after refrigerating. Can be kept in the refrigerator tightly wrapped for up to a week or frozen and then defrosted to be eaten at a later date.
  13. In the next Boulder Locavore post will be a recipe to use up the leftover scraps of the Cherry Pound Cake!


*{Gluten Free} For the Cherry Pound Cake I used Pamela’s Classic Vanilla Cake Mix prepared to the ‘Pamela’s Pound Cake’ instructions on the package.

**{Gluten Free} For the Chocolate Pound Cake I used Pamela’s Chocolate Cake Mix prepared to the ‘Pamela’s Decadent Chocolate Pound Cake’ instructions on the package.


Hidden Heart Valentine's Pound Cake heart BoulderLocavore.com

*I love the way the internet works!  I received a comment with a link to the original charming pumpkin CAKE (not bread, well it’s actually bread in the middle):  Peekaboo Pumpkin Cake.  What a fun full-circle moment.  Click here to see the original inspiration for Hidden Heart Valentine’s Pound Cake.  Fun to compare notes on the approach.


  1. MsTara says

    I tried this for an Anniversary party that I was doing a dessert table for! The husband’s favorite cake is pound cake. I was dissappointed that he wanted pound cake because I couldn’t think of how to make pound cake pretty. I searched the internet for ways to dress up a pound cake and came across your cake and bells went off in my head! I HAD to try it! My first attempt ended with a cake still raw on the bottom (I didnt know until I tried to remove it from the pan). But I still cut it and PERFECTION! So I gave it another try the next morning, this time baking longer at a lower temp. PERFECTION!!! It was a hit! You can see pics on my blog galagalcleveland.blogspot.com. Thank You!!!!!!!

      • says

        I think there is an insulation effect when baking the hearts inside the outer cake. As noted in the recipe, the outer cake may be done before indicated on the box or recipe you use since the middle of the cake is already cooked. I would check it early for doneness. It has turned out perfectly each time I’ve made it and I’ve noted other websites/blogs who have used my same technique after I published the recipe with the same end result!

  2. gwen says

    Sadly mine didn’t turn out well :(
    I think the hearts were too small…
    oh well! Thanks for this recipe! :D I’ll definitely try it again!

    • says

      Oh no Gwen! Can you tell me more? I’m happy to try to help troubleshoot. I’ve made the recipe numerous times with no issue. I’ve also seen variations of it now on the internet using different size hearts and different types of cake that have turned out beautifully. Please send me an email if you want my help trying to figure out what went wrong.

        • says

          I checked the Email Boulder Locavore box in the sidebar and it is working Gwen. I’m sorry you are having difficulties. Feel free to try it again if you wish. Good luck on the baking!

    • says

      I think you could make hearts from Brownies Daraya I just don’t know how well the overall pound cake would bake due to the pound cake and brownies being different consistencies. If you try it please let me know how it works!


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