For the cake
350 g unsalted butter, softened
350 g caster sugar
6 large eggs
280 g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp cocoa powder
170 g almond meal
200 ml milk
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp red food colouring
pink sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
For the icing
100 ml thickened cream
200 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
50 g unsalted butter
- Heat oven to 160°C. Grease a 19cm x 9cm loaf tin and line with baking paper.
- Cream 175g butter and 175g sugar until light and fluffy. Beat 3 of the eggs and pour in, a little at a time, mixing after each addition. Sift together 140g flour, ½ tsp baking powder and the cocoa, then fold into the butter mixture along with 85g almond meal. Combine 100ml milk, 1½ tsp vanilla and all the food colouring and add to the batter, then mix until evenly coloured.
- Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 1 hr 10 mins until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 mins in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack. When completely cool, trim the cake on all sides and cut into 2cm slices. Using a 5cm diameter heart-shaped cookie cutter, stamp out the hearts (save any remaining cake for another treat).
- Repeat step 1 to make a second cake mixture – you won’t have cocoa or food colour in this batch. Pour three-quarters of the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Push the bottoms of the hearts into the batter in a tightly packed row. Spoon over the remaining cake mixture, covering as much of the hearts as possible. Bake for 1 hr or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 mins in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the icing, gently heat all the ingredients over a low heat until combined. Leave to cool, then refrigerate until a spreadable consistency. Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with the sprinkles, if using. Will keep for 3 days stored in a cake tin.