Little Debbie Valentine Cakes made by your own two hands! Aren't they adorable?
Raise your hand if you remember having Little Debbie snack cakes at school holiday parties.
I am pretty sure that a class holiday party was simply not complete without a box or two of Little Debbie snack cakes. There was always one parent who brought them for every occasion. At Christmastime it would be the ones shaped like Christmas trees, and for Valentine’s Day it was the “Be My Valentine” heart-shaped cakes. Yellow cake, crème filling, pink and white icing…kids went crazy for them.
These little things are what childhood memories are made of. They’re the things that, as adults, make us smile when we think of them, and that we want to share with our own kids. But let’s share those memories without all of the preservatives and mystery ingredients, shall we?
We’ll refer to our Homemade Yellow Cake Mix recipe. It’s easy. This recipe has a few steps to it, so no reason to over-complicate things with the cake. We’ll bake it thin, then, once it’s cool, use a cookie cutter to cut out an even number of heart shapes. Then we’ll consider our crème filling.
Most recipes you find are going to use marshmallow fluff to get that fluffy, creamy consistency, but I think we can rise above that. Take a look at the container of ricotta cheese languishing in your fridge. Take it out and put it to use! We’ll cream it together with a smidge of butter, a spoonful of shortening, a sprinkle of sugar and a dash of vanilla. This goes between our heart-shaped cake layers, then everything goes into the refrigerator to chill and slightly set for about 30 minutes.
Once they have had some time to set, we’ll dip them into a white chocolate coating with just a few drops of food coloring added to make it the perfect shade of pink. Add a some white swirls and, suddenly, you realize that they look just like the “By My Valentine” cakes of your youth... they just happen to taste infinitely better.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13x9-inch pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, water, and egg with an electric beater until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan, spreading out until smooth. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before gently removing from the pan. Finish cooling on a rack.
Once cake is cool, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out an even number of hearts.
In a small bowl, beat together the softened butter, shortening, sugar, and vanilla for the filling with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the ricotta cheese and beat until smooth and fluffy.
Spread half of the heart shapes with the filling, topping with the other half of the hearts. Putting the top sides of the hearts together (so the bottom of each cake is on the outside) will give the finished cakes a more polished look.
Place cakes in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 2 cups of the white chocolate with ¼ cup of the shortening in a medium bowl on high for 30-second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each interval, just until melted. Stir in food coloring, one drop at a time, until you reach the desired color.
Remove the chilled cakes from the refrigerator. To coat, place a cake in the bowl with the white chocolate. Use a spoon to pour the coating over the cakes. Use two forks to lift the cakes out of the bowl, letting the excess drip off before setting on a piece of parchment paper until set.
For the white swirls, melt the remaining white chocolate with the remaining ½ teaspoon of shortening. Pour into a zip-top bag, then cut a small corner off the bag. Drizzle the white chocolate onto the top of the cakes in a swirl pattern.
Store cakes in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to serving.
Stephie is all about encouraging the art of cooking in her friends and family through her blog, Eat Your Heart Out. We love that she's also encouraging classic favorites as our Copycat Recipe expert, taking back of the box favorites and updating them for the way we eat today.