Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Recipe: Valentine's Day Conversation Hearts (White Chocolate-Covered Red Velvet "Truffles")

I absolutely love sending packages filled with baked goods or other edible treats to my boyfriend, John, just for fun (to help him get through all the hours of studying, reading, and writing he does for law school). I knew I wanted to make something new and special for him for Valentine's Day, so I spent a few hours last week researching ideas, before coming across a fun cake pop idea that drew inspiration from those chalky, not-so-great-but-oh-so-traditional Conversation Hearts. I tweaked the idea to make it work for me, and came up with a box full of white chocolate-covered red velvet "truffles" made to look like Conversation Hearts. To make the process a little easier, I used a boxed red velvet cake mix and pre-made cream cheese frosting, and I found this amazing cookie icing that hardens within minutes and used this to write messages on the hearts.
These little hearts took quite a lot of time and a little skill to make, but they turned out great and, from what I can tell, my boyfriend really enjoyed them. :)

Yield: Amount will vary depending on the size of the cookie cutter you use and how thick you make the "truffles"
Prep. and Cooking time: Approx. 2-4 hours total
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Special equipment: Heart-shaped cookie cutter, wax paper, double boiler (or a "makeshift/home made double boiler: a pot and a glass or ceramic bowl that sits partly down inside the pot), cookie sheets

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix, prepared, baked, and cooled (I used Duncan Hines brand; it called for the mix, eggs, water, and vegetable oil, and most cake mixes will require these ingredients, so have them on hand)
  • 1, 16 oz. container cream cheese frosting (I used Duncan Hines brand)
  • 2, 24 oz. bags white chocolate chips (you will probably have some left over)
  • Food coloring (the standard red, blue, green, yellow)
  • Hard icing for writing on the finished "truffles" (I found a fast-hardening cookie icing that conveniently came in a packet with a piping tip, so it made it very easy to write)

Scrape the cooled red velvet cake into a large bowl and crumble it into fine pieces/crumbs. Add part of the cream cheese frosting into the cake crumbs and, using a large spoon, spatula, or your hands (I used my hands), mix the frosting into the crumbs. Continue adding and mixing frosting into the cake crumbs until the mixture is completely blended and the cake is dark red, dense, and able to be rolled into a ball (I used almost all of the frosting). Put a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet and dump the red velvet and frosting mixture out onto the sheet. Spread out the mixture and flatten it out over the entire sheet until you have an even layer (about 1/2-1 inch thick) of cake mixture. Press the heart-shaped cookie cutter into the cake to cut out the desired number of hearts without actually pulling out the cut hearts, then place a piece of wax paper over the mixture and let it chill in the fridge. While the mixture is chilling, melt 1/2-1 cup white chocolate chips in the double boiler (you can melt them in the microwave, but this method can burn the chocolate if you're not careful). Remove the cake from the fridge and gently remove the cake from around each heart cut-out or gently lift the heart-shaped pieces up and out of the pan, then place them on a new wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Pour the melted chocolate into a small bowl and add the desired amount of food coloring to create one color. Using a spoon, gently smear some of the colored chocolate underneath one cake heart on the wax paper, place the heart back on the chocolate, then pour some on top of the heart and smooth to coat. Repeat with a few more hearts (I had three hearts of each color, creating 15 hearts). Melt a new batch of chocolate, transfer to a small bowl, mix in a new color, and repeat the coating process. Repeat this process until each heart is covered (I apologize for not having pictures of this process—when I get into a cooking or baking project, practical thoughts like "maybe I should take pictures so my readers know what I'm talking about" don't seem to cross my mind). Any excess cake mixture can be rolled into balls and covered in melted chocolate to create actual "truffles" (see picture at the end of this post). Place the coated hearts into the fridge and let them chill until the chocolate is completely hardened. Remove from the fridge and, using hard icing and a small piping tip, pipe out messages on the hearts (I looked up images of Conversation Hearts online to give me inspiration). Allow the icing messages to set completely before stacking the hearts. Keep the hearts in the fridge—they're best served slightly cold, with a warm cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate (and the one you love by your side).

These little hearts are whimsical, delicious, and absolutely perfect for Valentine's Day! They take some time and patience to make, but they're well worth it. Just be sure to keep these in the fridge to keep them fresh (they taste better cold anyway)!

Truffles I made with the leftover cake mixture

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