Valentine’s day appears to have a different take in Japan (women giving chocolate to men and men’s popularity being measured by the number of chocolates he collects. It appears to be the chocolate companies’ conspiracy). My wife and I have memories of Valentine’s day that goes back many, many years. Following the U.S. tradition, I bought my then girlfriend (now my wife)in a heart-shaped box. It was our first date—I took her out to dinner at, of all things, a Japanese restaurant. In return, she gave me a set of “red” glass tumblers ( I’m not sure about her choice of Valentine’s day gift. We found that any drink served in the red tumblers was tinged red and somehow did not look appetizing. The red tumblers became a yearly source of mirth (Valentine’s day) for years to come. They disappeared for a long time and I dared to hope they had been thrown out accidently in one of our clean outs of old stuff. But they mysteriously reappeared recently uncovered unexpectedly, to my wife’s delight, in an old box of dishes.
This year, instead of going out for dinner on Valentine’s day, we decided to cook live Maine Lobsters. My wife made two similar but different Valentine cakes
1. Ricotta-filled Valentine’s day “Wacky” cake:
She put on Maraschino cherry which looks like a red heart.
The ricotta filling on cut surface.
She also made a larger version in heart-shaped baking pan but this heart appears to be “burnt” on the edges (Maybe the recipe should call for and anti acid for the heart burn!).
2. “Wacky” cake with cream cheese glaze.
She made a regular cup cake size (below) and
miniature size (below).
I tasted all except for the large heart-shaped ones (before dinner). All are good. The “Wacky” cake is moist and chocolaty. Between the two filling/glazes, I liked the Ricotta filling the best. I asked my wife to provide the recipe.
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
2/3 cocoa powder
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbs. vinegar
2/3 cup oil
2 cups water
I initially thought this was a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe but have subsequently found it on the internet. I thought it was called wacky cake because of the way it is made. In the Pa Dutch recipe you mix the flour, soda, salt, sugar and cocoa powder in the pan in which the cake is going to be baked. Then you make 3 holes in the dry mixture. the vanilla goes in one, the vinegar in another, and the oil in the third. Then the water is poured over everything and the batter is briefly mixed until smooth. The cake is then put in a 350 degree oven in the pan in which it was mixed. For this recipe however, I mixed the dry ingredients in a bowl, and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Then mixed them together until smooth. I made two batches of cake; one for the ricotta filling and one for the cream cheese filling.
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
I mixed all the ingredients until smooth.
Cream cheese filling
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
16 oz. cream cheese
Mix all ingredients until smooth.
Assembly: I prepared a number of containers (heart shaped pan, small cupcake pan and large cup cake pan) by greasing each with Pam. I used an ice cream scoop to fill the pans. I then topped the cake mixture with the cream cheese or ricotta filling. Some I topped with maraschino cherries. I baked them in a 350 degree over for 15 to 20 minutes for the cup cakes and almost an hour for the heart shaped cake.
Wacky cake is amazing. It is so simple to make but is one of the best tasting cakes. It is moist and chocolaty. It holds up well; not getting dry even after several days in the fridge. This resulted in a lot of cupcakes but I have no fear they will disappear quickly.