The countdown to Valentine’s Day is on. We have shared all kinds of amazing Valentine’s Day crafts and activities for kids and now it’s time to shift our focus to Valentine’s Day baking. While we were out this weekend, I picked up a baking pan, that is designed to bake mini Valentine’s Day heart-shaped cakes. So, baking a cake was in order.
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We are pretty lucky when it comes to kid food-related sensitivities. My daughters don’t seem to be allergic or sensitive to anything (knock on wood). However, we have friends with food-related allergies and sensitivities, so we try and be aware of the food we bake. A common food allergen is red food colouring.
Aside from red food colouring causing allergic reactions in kids, it is also a chemical-based food dye…safe for consumption..but if we could come up with an alternative, why not? Rather than baking with artificial colouring, for this Valentine’s Day cake, we are trying a natural option, beet puree. Beets are a beautiful root vegetable and if you have ever cooked with beets then you know that they dye everything they touch…hands, washcloths, cutting boards. Why not use this to our advantage? We baked these sweet little heart-shaped cakes and the pink icing, coloured with beet puree. Perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day and safe for everyone to eat.
Valentine Mini Heart Cakes – Naturally Coloured
For the beet puree
3 medium-sized beets
For the heart cakes
mini heart-shaped baking pan or 2 x 8″ round cake pan or 2 x 12 cupcake pan
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup beet puree
For the cake icing
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp beet puree
For the Beet Puree
First, we need to make the beet puree. Wash the beets, trim off the beet tops and wrap the beets individually in foil. Place foil-wrapped beets on a baking sheet and place in 400°F oven for 60-90 minutes. Poke the beets with a fork and once they are tender it is time to remove them from the oven. Add the beets to a blender or food processor and process the cooked beets until they are smooth. Set the beet puree aside to cool.
For the Cakes
Preheat the oven to 350°F. To prepare the baking pan, butter and flour the baking pan. This recipe will make a double-layer cake, in 8″ round pans, 12 mini-heart cakes or 24 cupcakes.
Okay, let’s make the cake batter. Start by beating together the butter and sugar, until creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then stir in the vanilla and mix until everything is well combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In yet another bowl, whisk together the milk and 1/4 cup of the beet puree.
Now it’s time to pull the batter together. Add the beet mixture and flour to the butter mixture in small batches – alternating between the beets and the flour.
Mix everything together until the batter forms and the colour is consistent throughout the cake batter.
Scoop the batter into the prepared baking dish. Make certain that the baking dish is buttered thoroughly. For our small heart baking pans (or cupcakes) bake in 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes, until the toothpick inserted comes out clean. For an 8″ round cake bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Remove the cakes from the oven, let them cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan and let cool on a rack. If you are using the mini-heart pan, be sure to allow the pan to cool and then reapply a coat of butter to the pan between batches. The pan is non-stick, but we took this extra precaution to be sure it didn’t stick.
For the icing
To make the pink icing, whisk together icing sugar, vanilla, beet puree and water. Add more water if the icing is too thick or more icing sugar if the icing is too thin. To make the white icing simply skip adding the beet puree. Spread over completely cooled cakes. Enjoy!
The secret to the success of using beets is to use beet pureé and not beet juice. Beet juice will simply water down the recipe too much. Whereas beet pureé is thicker and blends in beautifully. These cakes are super moist and don’t taste like beets at all. I love that we have found an easy way to replace red food colouring. I wonder what else I can use to substitute other artificial colours.
Valentine’s Day Heart Cakes with Natural Beet Puree Colouring
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup beet puree
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/4 tsp beet puree
- 3 medium sized beets
For the Beet Puree
- Wash beets, trim beet tops off and wrap beets individually in foil. Place foil wrapped beets on a baking sheet and place in 400°F oven for 60-90 minutes. Poke a fork in the beets and when they are tender, pureé beets in a blender or food processor. Process the beets until they are smooth. Set aside to fully cool.
For the Heart Cakes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour the baking pan. This recipe will make a double layer cake, in 8" round pans or 12 mini-heart cakes.
- Beat together butter and sugar, until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Finally, mix in the vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and 1/4 cup of beet puree.
- Add the beet and milk mixture and the flour to the butter mixture in small batches – alternating between the beets and flour.
- Mix together until batter forms and colour is consistent throughout.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared baking dish. Make certain that the baking dish is buttered thoroughly. For our small heart baking pans (or cupcakes) bake in 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes, until the toothpick inserted comes out clean. For 8" round cake bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove cakes from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan and let cool on a rack.
For the icing
- Whisk together icing sugar, vanilla, beet puree and water. Add more water if the icing is too thick or more icing sugar if the icing is too thin. Spread over completely cooled cakes. To make the white icing simply skip adding the beet puree.
More Valentine’s Day Desserts
check out all of these fun Valentine’s Day baking ideas
and, all of these Valentine’s Day pasta recipes
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