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Valentine’s Day hidden heart cupcakes

I posted the above photo to Instagram and Facebook this morning and didn’t think anyone would really care about making them, but I was wrong!

I made the cupcakes for a segment on Cityline about food hacks. These can be a bit tricky to do but they’re not difficult. You just have to watch them as they bake.

I suggest testing two or three fully baked cupcakes before trying a whole batch. The fussy part is the hearts in the middle…they tend to shift or float in the oven so you need to check on them while they’re baking. This will save you the hassle of basically ruining an entire batch of these cupcakes because you can’t fix them once they’re baked.


  • TWO different colours of cake batter (If you want a great red colour like I have, use a white cake recipe/mix and colour it with red gel. Red velvet recipes or mixes don’t give you the same bright red.)

  • Enough time to let one cake bake and cool before baking the second cake (I did this over 2 days)

  • Very small heart shaped cookie cutter – one that doesn’t sit too much higher than the top edge of your muffin tin. Otherwise you will find it difficult to completely hide the heart in the cake.

  • Icing

  • Paper cupcake liners

  • Muffin tin

*It’s a good idea to only make 2 or 3 cupcakes before you bake a whole batch so you can trim the heart shapes after seeing how they look in the finished product. My first test batch looked terrible.


1. Mix and bake your “heart” colour into an 8×8 or 9×9 pan. Don’t worry about it baking up too high – you will trim the cutout hearts.

2. When the cake has cooled, cut out hearts with your cookie cutter. If your cutter is a bit large…just take a paring knife and trim the heart down to a smaller size.

TIP: the heart will soak up batter and puff up once baked in the cupcake – so take a knife and make the edges deeper to compensate. The “dip” at the top of the heart and the bottom end of the heart will look better if you make them into deeper “V” shapes. This is my terrible drawing.

3. Mix your cupcake batter

4. Take your paper cupcake liners. With scissors – cut a slit in the paper to score the cupcake liner – this will be your GUIDE for placing the heart in the right direction so you know which way to slice it when it’s baked. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan.

5. Spoon a bit of batter into the cupcake liners – this is to give the hearts something to stick to. Hearts will sit on their side. They aren’t likely to stay secure if you try to make them stand on the pointed bottom in the pan. You’ll see in all my cupcakes that the hearts are tilted for best results.

6. Put the cutout heart cake into the liner – lining up the middle with the where you’ve scored the paper liner

7, *Reserve about a cup of batter for touch-ups. Carefully pour the rest of the batter over top of the hearts – some of the hearts might tip over or lean forward or back. Just straighten them with your fingers.

8. Make sure the hearts are sitting straight and put them in the oven. BAKE for 5-7 MINUTES.

9. After a few minutes in the oven – take the tray out to see if the hearts have fallen over. Some of the batter will have started to set (this is good) – so if any of the hearts have started to float or tipped over, you can push them into position. Having some of the batter already set will actually hold the hearts in place.

TIP: if your cutout hearts are too big and not covered with cake batter, don’t worry. You can fix this by covering the tops with icing. You can also spoon some of the reserved batter on top after it’s been in the oven a few minutes and then finish baking.

10. When your cupcakes are done – let them cool completely before icing.

11. SLICING: use the mark that you’ve made on the cupcake liner as a guide to slice your cupcake in the right direction. Think of it like cutting along an axis so that when you slice the cupcake – you will see the entire heart facing you. If you did NOT score your liner…you may end up cutting the cupcake in the wrong direction (like splitting the heart in half) and it will just look like a piece of red cupcake in the middle. YOU’VE WORKED TOO HARD FOR THIS TO HAPPEN.

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