Happy Valentine’s Day!

Since Valentine’s Day is in a couple of days, I thought I’d give  you some advice on how to really impress your Valentine.  Cook ’em up this fantastic Cherry Valentine Cake!  But before I show you how to make this really impressive and delicious cake, I have a story to tell.  You see, for me every recipe has a story.

Cherry Valentine Cake |

Recently I was perusing my photos in search of anything relevant to Valentine’s Day.  Well, I ran across a few photos I’d taken on Valentine’s Day 2 years ago at my friend Shawnie’s home.  Shawnie is a talented Interior Designer and owner of the fabulous Design  & Consign shop in The Laguna Design Center in Laguna Niguel, California.  Shawnie’s store specializes in the consignment of upscale, high quality furniture and accessories.

Shawnie Rettig, Design & Consign |

In addition to all this, Shawnie and her husband, Gary, are the owners of the famous boutique resort, La Fonda Hotel and Restaurantlocated in Ensenada, Baja, Mexico.

Photo Credit La Fonda

Photo Credit La Fonda

I have been going to La Fonda for decades, even long before I knew Shawnie. It’s a funky place with a fantastic weekend brunch that has an almost cult-like following.  Hey, come to think of it, you might want to forget about cooking on Valentine’s Day and take your Valentine to La Fonda?

Photo Credit La Fonda

Photo Credit La Fonda

Well, anyway, getting back to how to impress your Valentine and my original story…… it was back in 2012 that Shawnie hosted our February Book Club in her super-charming Lake Arrowhead home.

Well "Red" Book Club |

Her table looked so delightful, and she even used a heart-embellished iron plate stand I had given her.

Well "Red" Book Club |

We drank French champagne……

Well "Red" Book Club |

and had French Onion Soup……

Well "Red" Book Club |

all in honor of the book we had read, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

The Paris Wife | www.AfterOrangeCounty

For me, The Paris Wife was one of those books you just can’t put down. Set in 1920’s Paris, the story explores the love affair and eventual demise of the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley.  If you haven’t read it ,I highly recommend it.

Our book club consists of 13 members, so more often than not, it is someone’s birthday every month that we get together.  This particular month it was not only Valentine’s Day, but it was the birthday month for 3 of our members, including my dear sweet friend Cindy.  Happy Birthday Cindy!

Cherry Vanilla Valentine Cake |

In honor of their birthdays, I volunteered to make a Birthday cake.  So, I turned to one of my favorite blogs, Sprinkle Bakesfor a great cake recipe by blogger and baker extraordinaire, Heather Baird.

Sprinkle Bakes Cookbook By Heather Baird |

There I found Heather’s wonderful recipe for a Cherry Vanilla Layer Cake.  Her cake is far prettier than the one I made using her recipe.  But Heather’s cake was miniature, made in 7″ springform pans.  I didn’t have 7″ cake pans, so I had to modify the recipe to accommodate my 9-1/2″ cake pans.  And I decided to use crushed Sweetheart Candies to decorate my cake.

Cherry Vanilla Valentine Cake |

And, since I used Heather’s recipe, it tasted delicious!

Cherry Vanilla Valentine Cake |

It was moist and bursting with a wonderful cherry flavor.  It also had a hint of almond flavor (my favorite) owing to the fact that almond extract is used in this cake instead of vanilla extract.

Cherry Vanilla Valentine Cake |

It also has 15 ounces of diced up Maraschino cherries inside that give it an extra boost of texture and delicious cherry flavor.  So, I recommend that you make one of these wonderful Cherry Valentine Cakes for the one you love. They’ll be really impressed!  And they’ll love ya for it! 

Below is Heather Baird’s Cake Recipe, modified to fit a standard 9 inch round cake pan.


Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This moist and delicious cake is simply bursting with cherry flavor and a hint of almond. Make it for the one you love. They'll love you for it!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • ¾ Cup Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1¾ Cup + 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ⅓ Cup Whole Milk
  • ¾ Cup Maraschino Cherry Juice
  • 3 Teaspoons Almond Extract
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour to Sprinkle Over Diced Cherries
  • 14 Ounce Bottle of Maraschino Cherries, Finely Diced
  • Drop or Two Red Food Coloring
  • 6 Egg Whites, Beaten to Stiff Peaks
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease two 9-1/2" cake pans and line with parchment paper.
  3. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt & baking powder.
  5. In another bowl combine the milk, cherry juice and almond extract.
  6. Add the liquid and dry ingredients alternately to the creamed sugar in the stand mixer, beating until combined.
  7. In a small bowl sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of flour over the diced cherries.
  8. Stir the diced cherries into the batter.
  9. Pour into prepared cake pans.
  10. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  11. Allow to cool in the pans for a few minutes, then remove cakes from pans and transfer to a wire cooling rack.
  12. Cool completely before frosting.
See recipe below for Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
This is a delicious and versatile cooked frosting that my mother taught me to make when I was a young girl. She learned to make it from her mother.
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 5 Large Egg Whites
  • 1-1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Sticks Unsalted Butter, Cubed & Softened
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  1. Fill the bottom of a double boiler or a saucepan ⅓ full of water.
  2. Bring water to a simmer.
  3. Add the egg whites, sugar and salt to the bowl of your stand mixer.
  4. Place it over the hot water and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees.
  5. The sugar should have dissolved by this point and it will be hot.
  6. Transfer the bowl to your stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment.
  7. Beat on medium high speed until it doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks.
  8. Continue beating until the mixture is cooled. This should take about 12 minutes.
  9. Begin adding the butter, one cube at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition.
  10. At this point, the frosting may appear almost curdled. Keep mixing until it is thick and completely smooth.
  11. If you wish to tint the frosting, you may mix in your desired food coloring at this point.
This recipe will frost and fill a cake made with two 9 inch round sheets of cake.


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All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Unless otherwise credited, all photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ and may not be reproduced without specific permission.