I wanted to come up with a crazy cake for our Queen of Hearts Valentine’s party, and I definitely think that this Cinnamon Heart Red Velvet Cake fulfilled my goal.
This show-stopper cake features rich, moist red velvet cake spiced up with some cinnamon, followed by a decadent chocolate-cinnamon buttercream and melted chocolate and candy pouring down the sides, and topped with spikes of cinnamon heart bark that mimic the spike-y nature of the infamous Queen herself.
This is definitely the type of cake that you start preparing a day or two before you want to have it ready.
While this cake is technically very simple, there are several steps (from making the candy bark to pouring melted chocolate down the sides of the frosted cake) that cannot be rushed or you will be left with a big melted pile of chocolate and cake on your hands. (It’s happened to me before…)
You can even update this cake with different colors and flavors – maybe you’d want all pastels for a “Broken Egg Shell Easter Cake” or rainbow colors for a Rainbow Party or St. Patricks’ Day treat.
I even think the gothic Queen of Hearts theme could work well for Halloween, too!
No matter what the occasion, this cake is an attention-grabber and fully delivers on the flavor, making it the perfect centrepiece to your festivities.
Now, a note on one of the ingredients for this cake – for my red velvet cakes I specifically use a non-alkanized cocoa which has a natural “red” reaction when mixed with buttermilk. Using this – instead of the typical Dutch process cocoa – allows me to keep a rich chocolate flavor and get that bright red coloring naturally.
Of course, you can still use the cocoa you already have on hand, you’ll just want to reduce it slightly (as indicated in the recipe notes) so it lets the red food coloring do it’s thing.
Ingredients for Cinnamon Heart Red Velvet Cake
This recipe is for a 3 layer cake – if you want less cake, halve the ingredients.
- 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups yellow or light brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2/3 cup natural cocoa powder (if using dutch process cocoa, use 1/3 cup and add 1/3 cup flour)
- 3 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- red food dye, optional
Note: you can use all all-purpose flour, you will just result with a denser cake.
Also, note the substitution instructions if you use a processed cocoa.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3-4 cups icing sugar
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 2-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- 1/2 cup red candy melts
- 1/2 cup black candy melts or chocolate chips
- 1 Tablespoon shortening
- 1 cup chocolate chips (for the top of the cake)
- 1/3 cup red candy melts
- 1/3 cup white candy melts
- 1/3 cup black candy melts
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
- Handful cinnamon hearts
Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Large mixing bowl
- Stand or hand mixer
- 3 circle cake pans (either 8″ or 9″ – all the same size)
- Offset spatula
How to Make a 3-Layer Cinnamon Red Velvet Cake
Preheat the oven to 375F and grease and line 3 8″ or 9″ cake pans. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
In a separate bowl, sift all of the dry ingredients and stir to mix completely.
And in a measuring cup, measure out the buttermilk and stir in the vanilla.
Slowly add half of the dry ingredients into the wet mixture while beating, and then the buttermilk-vanilla mixture, and once fully incorporated, the final half of the dry ingredients.
Portion the batter out into the 3 prepared cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
While the cakes are cooking, I prepared the cinnamon heart chocolate bark.
Simply melt the chocolate in 30 second bursts in the microwave until smooth. Pour out onto a lined cookie tray. Smooth out to 1/4″ thickness with an offset spatula.
Melt the different candy melts and portion out 1-2 Tablespoon sized dollops all over the melted chocolate.
Using the offset spatula, run lines back and forth through the candy melts, dragging it through the melted chocolate to make a pretty design.
Sprinkle on the cinnamon hearts before setting in the fridge to harden.
While the cakes cool, prepare the cinnamon chocolate buttercream by combining the butter, icing sugar, cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon and salt with a mixer on medium speed.
Add the milk one tablespoon at a time, beating for at least 1 minute in between each addition, until a smooth texture results. Taste and adjust as needed.
Use whatever method you prefer to even out the cakes for layering. (I shared our favourite method using dental floss here.)
Apply an even “crumb coat” – a light layer of frosting to seal in any crumbs before adding the final, outer layer of frosting. Allow to dry for at least an hour.
Now, for this cake I used some vanilla buttercream leftover from another cake I had made so that I could visually show in this blog post the difference between the crumb coat the final (cinnamon chocolate) layer. The recipe provided here will give you enough for the crumb coat and the final coat using the cinnamon chocolate buttercream.
Now I purposefully left the frosting finish a bit “rough” to go with the theme of the cake, but you can use a frosting scraper to make it completely smooth.
Once the cake is completely frosted, you want the frosting to set as much as possible before adding the drizzle. (Overnight in the fridge is great.)
When ready to add the drizzle, heat the red candy melts in the microwave along with half of the shortening for 30 seconds, then stir and reheat as needed until completely smooth. Let it cool slightly without hardening, about 2-3 minutes.
Take a small spoon and portion out teaspoon-sized increments of the candy onto the edges of the cake, allowing them to drip down smoothly.
Let dry as you melt the black candy melts and then repeat. I placed the black candy drips in between the red candy drips.
Next, place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second increments until it stirs smooth. Add shortening if needed, and then pour on top the cake.
Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth the chocolate to the edges of your cake.
Next, take the broken pieces of cinnamon heart bark and insert them into the cake. Use kebab skewers as needed to secure the bark until the chocolate sets and holds them in place.
Safely but quickly get this cake into the fridge to set.
Once the cake is set it can safely stay out at room temperature without risk of melting.
One of my favourite things about this cake is how the bark looks when you cut into the cake. A dramatic finish fit for a queen.
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