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A layer cake with vanilla frosting decorated with 3 shades of red and pink buttercream hearts sitting on a pink cake stand and a red polka dot napkin

Valentine’s Day Ombre Heart Cake

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  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 10 slices
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American


This homemade chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream is decorated with ombre hearts. You can make this Valentine’s Day Ombre Heart Cake with these few easy tips.


For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (285g)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (118 ml)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (15 ml)
  • ½ cup light sour cream (118 ml)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (280g)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder (55 g)
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder (5g) (optional)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder (9 g)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda (2 g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (5 g)
  • 1 ¼ cup brewed coffee (296 ml)

For the frosting:

  • 3 cups unsalted butter, cold (680g)
  • 910 cups powdered sugar (1711g)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (15ml)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream(45ml)


  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare 3 8-inch round baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides. Prepare your bake even stripes if desired.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Alternate half the dry ingredients followed by half of the coffee and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  4. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, about 1 2/3 cups of batter per pan. Bake at 350°F for 20-24 minutes. Rotate your pans in the oven halfway through baking.
  6. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the frosting: 

  1. Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until butter look light in color.
  2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated into butter then add 2 tsp of vanilla extract and mix to combine. Beat for about 60 seconds.
  3. Next, add additional powdered sugar 2 cups alternating with the heavy cream and vanilla extract and beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes for adding more powdered sugar.
  4. Once all the ingredients have been added, beat for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Separate out 1/2 cup of frosting into 3 bowls. Using the Wilton color gels, start with the lightest pink by adding ¼ of a drop of pink gel. Then for the second color I used a larger drop of red and for the third color, I used a combination of red and crimson. Mix until well combined.
  6. Fill 3 separate 12-inch piping bags fitted with a coupler and a size #12 Wilton piping tip. Set aside.
  7. To assemble the cake, use a cake leveler to cut the domes off the top of the cake. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake on top.
  8. Place about 2 cups of frosting in a large piping bag fitted with a large open round tip, or simply cut off the end of the piping bag. Pipe a layer of frosting on top of the cake, starting at the outside edge and working your way into the middle. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Repeat with the second layer of cake and then place your third layer on top.
  9. Use your piping bag to fill in any gaps between your layers and to create a crumb coat. Using an angled spatula or icing smoother, wipe away the excess frosting, leaving you just enough to coat the outside of the cake. Do not mix your crumb coating frosting back into your icing if it has cake debris in it. Refrigerate the crumb coat for 20 minutes.
  10. Proceed to frost the top and sides of the cake using your offset spatula. Once the sides of the cake are covered, use you icing smoother to remove any excess frosting.
  11. Pipe the hearts on the outside of your cake. Then take you remaining vanilla frosting and use a large open star tip to pipe the boarder of the cake and garnish with sprinkles.


  • For the hearts, I used a soft tape measure to measure the diameter of the cake and mark the bottom with a small dot, using a toothpick. I was able to make mine about 2” apart. Then I used a ruler and ever so gently imprinted a vertical line that will be used to keep the hearts straight as I applied them.