Valentine Vanilla Mini-Butter Cakes

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Let’s talk about cake. Let’s talk about how I completely screwed this cake up yesterday. Now, let’s talk about how the struggle was totally worth it in the end. I may have mentioned before that I am not a huge cake baker. Cupcakes I can do, but when it comes to actually cake cakes, I’m not very good at making them. Maybe it’s my lack of patience. I’m not quite sure. So yesterday, I attempted to make a vanilla butter cake from scratch. Things seem to be going smoothly, until I realized I accidentally used baking soda instead of baking powder. The thing was, I KNEW I needed to use baking powder, but was so distracted by something (I’m not quite sure what that something was) that I used baking soda instead. Let’s just say I tried to compensate for the use of baking soda by adding baking powder. What did I conclude? THIS…DOES…NOT…WORK. Your cake will fall in on itself. I promise you. It was a disaster.

There is a solution to this problem if you do happen to use baking soda instead of baking powder, but it requires the addition of cream of tartar. You need 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part baking soda. I actually knew this yesterday when I was obliterating my cake, but I didn’t have cream of tartar, so I played the “let’s see how it turns out if I do this” game. Ugh, what a mess. I was so sad. Another thing that I think helped in my cake turning into mush, was the vessel I was using. I used a 9x13in baking dish. What did I learn? Homemade cake batter is not like the boxed stuff. You can’t just through it in a 9x13in dish and expect it to come out the same as Betty Crocker. Choose your vessels wisely. I used smaller round pans today, and it worked beautifully.

Also, I blame the altitude. I know I blame the altitude a lot, but seriously whose counting?

A test of patience, that’s for sure!

I love these little cakes. Not only are they ABSOLUTELY delicious, they are pretty cute too! They are buttery and sweet and moist: Just perfect I tell ya. I like the thought of these cakes for Valentine’s Day because they are quite the splurge. I don’t even want to tell you how much butter and sugar goes into them, so just read ahead to the recipe. It’s a lot, but it’s so worth it! Especially for a holiday =).

Pretty cute, huh?

We decided to go ahead and pair this cake with a beer that’s a voluptuous as the cake itself. I could think of no other brew to use besides Stone’s Smoked Vanilla Porter. Hello, vanilla bean cake with a vanilla bean beer? It was a match made in heaven. Porters are perfect with desserts. They are dark and robust and full of flavor, but not so much that they take over your tastebuds. I could be wrong, but I believe this beer is available just about everywhere, and they brew it constantly. You should have no issues finding it. Also, you probably aren’t going to find it in a 4 or 6-pk. They are usually sold in single bottles or by the case.

I hope everyone has a lovely Valentine’s Day!



Vanilla Butter Cakes
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr, 15 min
4-6 mini cakes


  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (divided)
  • 2 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt + a pinch
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • seeds from one vanilla bean
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • red food coloring
  • conversation hearts (smashed to crumbles)


  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and grease three 6" round baking pans (or whatever baking pans you choose to use). Set aside.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer (with paddle attachment fixed), beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar in 1/2 cup increments on medium speed until all is combined. Add one teaspoon of the vanilla extract and mix on low to combine. One at a time, add the eggs. Beat on low after each egg until all is combined.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and fine sea salt. In another bowl (small), mix the heavy cream and milk. Alternating between the dry ingredients and the milk mixture, add to the creamed mixture, starting with the dry and ending with the dry. When all is combined, add the seeds from the vanilla bean and mix on low until they are completely incorporated. Pour the cake batter into you greased dish and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • While your cake is cooling, make your icing. In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment fixed, beat the butter and confectioner's sugar together on medium-low until all is incorporated. Add in the heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, water and a pinch of sea salt. Whip on medium until fluffy. If you find the icing is too thick add some more water a tablespoon at a time. If you find the icing is too thing, add more confectioner's sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Add 1-2 drops of food coloring for a pinkish color. If you want a deeper color, just add more drops.
  • With a heart shaped cookie cutter, begin cutting out your layers. Spread the hearts with the icing and top with crumbled conversation hearts. Serve and enjoy!


Hardware: * 6" Round Baking Pans (is what I used - use whatever you have) * Stand Mixer (with paddle attachment fixed) or Hand Mixer * Measuring Cups * Measuring Spoons * Bowls * Whisk * Paring Knife (to remove the vanilla bean seeds) * Cutting Board * Rubber Spatula * Heart Shaped Cookie Cutter *


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