Chocolate Valentine Surprise Loaf Cake

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I’m pretty smitten about this Chocolate Valentine Surprise Loaf Cake, which is a super cute recipe created especially for Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate Valentine Surprise Loaf Cake

My friend Amanda Rettke wrote a cookbook a few years back: Surprise-Inside Cakes (Amazon affilitate link).  She’s kinda the queen of cute shapes “hidden” inside of cakes, and her book is all about that. This Valentine Surprise Loaf Cake recipe was inspired by Amanda’s cakes.  It’s much like a chocolate pound cake- dense and chocolatey and slightly fudgy in the middle.  I’ve hidden a heart in the middle of the cake- so when you cut into it, you get the surprise of the heart in every slice.  

Making Chocolate Valentine Surprise Loaf Cake

How to make a Chocolate Valentine Surprise Loaf Cake:

The wet ingredients are combined with the dry ingredients to create your chocolatey batter. 

Cutting hearts from pound cake

You also need a frozen pound cake for this recipe (any brand, but I usually pick up the basic Sara Lee).  You certainly could make your own homemade pound cake, but it’s totally not necessary.  Plus, the sturdiness of a frozen pound cake is the kind of consistency you need.  You’ll cut a bunch of heart shapes from slices of the pound cake.  Those will end up being the “surprise” inside your cake!

making Chocolate Valentine Surprise Loaf Cake

About half of the batter is spread into the bottom of your loaf pan.

Chocolate Loaf Cake with surprise hearts inside

A snuggly row of evenly stacked hearts is placed on top of the batter.

Chocolate Loaf Cake ready for the oven

Then the rest of the batter is spooned on top.

Chocolate Loaf Cake

I sprinkle on chocolate chips to make sure everything was going to be extra-chocolatey!

Chocolate Valentine Loaf Cake

Here is the loaf all baked- you’ll see that the hearts in the center of my cake pop out the top when the cake rose and cracked.  At first, I was like… OH NO!  But then I decided that I liked that the hearts peeked out the middle to tell everyone, “Hey, this is a Valentine’s Day cake!)

Chocolate Valentine Surprise Loaf Cake

Go ahead and surprise your Valentine’s this year with this delicious Chocolate Valentine Surprise Loaf Cake.  They’ll love ya for it!

Here are a few more Valentine’s Day recipes you might like to try:

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Chocolate Valentine Surprise Loaf Cake

Slice into this chocolate loaf cake for a Valentine heart surprise inside!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 446kcal
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate loaf cake, valentine cake


  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick + 2 tablespoons) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup 2% or whole plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 loaf frozen pound cake, (like Sara Lee), cut into ¾-inch slices


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x4-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  • In a medium bowl, use and electric mixer to combine the butter and the sugar. Then mix in the yogurt, eggs and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Add to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in ¼ cup chocolate chips.
  • Using a small heart cookie cutter (1 to 2 inches), cut heart shapes from each slice of frozen pound cake. Cut enough of them so (when stacked) they'll fit across almost the entire length of the loaf pan.
  • Spread about half of the batter onto the bottom of the loaf pan. Lay a row of the evenly stacked hearts on their side on top of the batter- spanning the length of the pan and leaving about an inch of space on each end (see photo or video in recipe post). Scoop remaining batter over the top to cover the pound cake hearts and create a smooth surface. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top.
  • Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until almost completely set (it will look a tiny bit like lava cake in the very center, and that's okay!) The hearts you put in the center of the cake may or may not pop up out of the cake as pictured- it depends on how deep the top layer of batter is. Let cool for 20 minutes or so in the pan, then loosen the edges of the pan with a knife and pop out onto a rack to cool completely. Keep well wrapped- this cake is best eaten within a day or two.



Serving: 1serving | Calories: 446kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 392mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 607IU | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 3mg
More Loaf Cakes...
Lori Lange of Recipe Girl

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  • Vicki Bender wrote:

    Can you use a box cake mix? And also can you do with mini loaf pans?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      You can certainly try!

  • Carla wrote:

    I actually saw the recipe when you first posted it but didnt get a chance to stop by. I love the little surprise! It looks so complicated but really it’s not. I can imagine all the possibilities with different cookie cutters.

  • diana wrote:

    Hi Lori!
    What if instead of the frozen pound cake we substitute for cheese cake? Will that work as well as the pound cake?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      That’s an interesting idea! I have no idea if it would work… or if the cheesecake would melt inside or what. Let me know if you try it!

  • pep wrote:

    I used to see these type of cakes and wonder how they did this Now we all know Awesome ..You honestly use any kind of shape not just a heart ..

  • jessica wrote:

    this is so freaking cute!

  • Lauren @ Healthy Delicious wrote:

    super cute, Lori! I almost did something really similar, and I’m glad I changed m mind at the last minute because I’m pretty sure your’s would have blown mine out of the water. LOVE that heart peeking out the the top!

  • Kev wrote:

    Mmmmmmm! How clever, too! :o)

  • Annamaria @ Bakewell Junction wrote:

    I’ve always wanted to make a cake like this but just haven’t had the chance. Pinned.

  • Linsay wrote:

    I maybe being thick here but whats a pound cake? is it just like a cake that looks like a loaf or something? would it matter what you put inside? I’m thinking Battenburg cake would be nice?

    I just volunteered to make cakes for the works bake sale and i think this is a winner! it will look awesome!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      in the US, a pound cake is a dense loaf cake. You can make it homemade or buy it frozen. A dense sponge cake would also work.

  • Laura @ Laura’s Culinary Adventures wrote:

    How cute! What a perfect Valentine’s Day treat!

  • Jennie @themessybakerblog wrote:

    Lori, this loaf cake is so stinkin’ adorable. You gotta love the talented Amanda. Seriously, so cute.

  • gretchen wrote:

    so incredibly adorable. i love those surprise cakes… like a little bit of magic!

  • Tieghan wrote:

    Oh my gosh! I have always wondered how people did this! So excited to give it try. The cake looks amazing! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) wrote:

    How clever and completely adorable! Looks like a very yummy Valentine’s treat. 🙂

  • Shelby wrote:

    Lori, did you try carving half of the pound cake into a one piece heart shaped loaf?
    Just wondered if it would stay-put better inside the chocolate cake. I’m so excited to try this. Thanks.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I thought about that, but then I thought that might be kind of a carving nightmare! They stay put fine… if you just put less batter on the bottom of the pan, they won’t rise up like that 🙂

  • Donna wrote:

    How do you know where to slice so you don’t chop up the hearts? This recipe sounds so good. I can’t wait to make it. Thank you.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      It doesn’t seem to really matter. They just kind of stick together. I didn’t have any problem with the hearts breaking apart at all.

  • Amanda wrote:

    This cake looks like it would taste SOOOOO good!!! Thank you so much for the kind words. I love your cake and design and recipe and I really need to make this! 🙂

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Thank you for your “surprise inside” ideas!!!

  • Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg wrote:

    I live this adorable cake. How fun to find the little heart inside.

  • JulieD wrote:

    I love this and your step by step photos are fantastic!

  • patsy wrote:

    Love how adorable this cake is… I can’t wait to try this as a surprise for my boys!