Hidden Heart Valentine’s Pound Cake

Hidden Heart Valentine's Pound Cake. Chocolate loaf cake with a cherry pound cake heart hidden in the middle! - BoulderLocavore.com

I 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 Pound Cake. Chocolate loaf cake with a cherry pound cake heart hidden in the middle! - 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. Chocolate loaf cake with a cherry pound cake heart hidden in the middle! - 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.

Hidden Heart Valentine's Pound Cake. Chocolate loaf cake with a cherry pound cake heart hidden in the middle! - 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. Chocolate loaf cake with a cherry pound cake heart hidden in the middle! - 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.


    • 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!

  1. says

    What an amazingly creative way to up the ante on pound cake! I have a cookbook with recipes for cakes that have designs inside, but it really intimidated me. This recipe with the step-by-step photos is inspiring and confidence-building rather than intimidating. Many thanks!

  2. Linda says

    Wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier to just carve a heart shaped “log” down the length of your pink pound cake? You could use your cookie cutter as a guide. Then you wouldn’t need help holding all those hearts together while you poured in the chocolate pound cake. One hand to hold the log on it’s point and one hand to ladle in the batter. Makes a lot more sense and I’d think it would save a lot of time.

    • says

      I think your idea is a good one Linda however I do not know how you would push a cookie cutter all the way through the pound cake. Also since I only bake gluten-free, the texture of the cake is different and I do not believe the pound cake would hold together for that tactic. If you try your method please leave us a comment and let us know how it works! I can say the method shared in the recipe here is not difficult and has worked every time.


    i’m not going to have someone helping to hold the hearts and i got to thinking that i could try putting the hearts in upside down. haven’t tried your darling cake idea yet, but plan to tomorrow. am thinking another thing would be to pour some cake into the bottom, then put hearts in and line them up…will see what happens. thanks for the idea, though!

    • says

      I thought of the same idea about the hearts Eileen (turning them upside down) as they’d be more stable that way but I really wanted them facing up then the cake was cut. Also if you look at the photo you’ll see when I added a bit of batter to steady the hearts at the bottom (in the recipe) it does cause the hearts to float up a bit and they can poke out the top if too much batter is added to the bottom. I’m sure you’ll work it out; just passing along tips from my experimentations!

  4. Nayana says

    Hi Toni, could you please tell me the measurements of your loaf pan. Most of the pans are 2.75 deep and the cookie cutters are mostly larger in size. I’ve been dying to bake one of these types of cake but unable to get hold of right kind of loaf pan and cookie cutter if you could guide or would be really helpful.

    • says

      Hi Nayana. I can certainly do that and get back to you (not at home at the minute). I did look up loaf pan sizing and in deed there are three sizes. My guess it the one I used may be larger but will post here when I’m able to measure it.


  1. […] 4. Neither of you may be keen on love tokens but EVERYONE is keen on cake. To be honest, this recipe is just amazing and doesn't need any reason except it's awesomeness for it to be whipped up. It's a cake IN a cake! A cherry heart in a chocolate loaf – no more needs to be said except that you can find the recipe at Boulder Locavore. […]

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