Since it’s nearly Valentine’s Day, I wanted to bake up something chocolatey, something pink, something with a lovey-dovey vibe. Of course I bake love into everything I make (my inner Hallmark card just had to throw that in, sorry), but this time there’s evidence. Ripe, red, heart-shaped evidence.
I wanted this Chocolate Heart Loaf to be indulgent, but it turned out to be even more indulgent than I had intended. It turned out to be more indulgent than should be allowed!
What I was trying to make was a chocolate loaf with a strawberry heart in the middle. What i did make was a chocolate banana loaf with a gooey pudding center and a strawberry heart at its heart. Lots of flavors and textures inside and out, and pure decadence the whole way through.
I didn’t anticipate how much moisture the strawberry core would add while baking, so the lava part was a happy surprise even for me! But when life gives me chocolatey, gooey surprises, I don’t object.
A simpler strawberry alternative • If your don’t want to bother will all the strawberry slicing and stacking to achieve the strawberry heart, then you can just scatter a line of frozen strawberries (or even cherries) down the center of the batter, hide it with another layer of batter, and bake. The cross-section may not be as impressive, but the taste will still be very impressive.
A less gooey alternative • If you don’t want a gooey chocolate lava-loaf (for someone bizarre reason that I can’t understand), then chill the whole thing before slicing it. It will still be fudgey, but a little less messy.
Chocolate Lava Loaf with Strawberry Love
Makes a 8×4 inch loaf pan
12 large strawberries
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free, but whole wheat works too)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- FOR THE STRAWBERRY HEART: De-stem and slice the strawberries into heart-shaped slices. I got about 3 usable slices per berry, and the 2 rounded outside pieces to eat (or save for smoothies).
- Stack the berry slices into multiple stacks as tall as possible. Insert a toothpick into each stack to hold it together. I got about 3-4 stacks. The taller they are the easier it will be to insert them into the cake. It’s a balancing game 🙂
- Freeze the berry stacks overnight.
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE BANANA BATTER: The next day, start by preheating the oven to 350F.
- Blend the bananas, coconut sugar, non-dairy milk, and maple syrup in a blender.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and cacao powder in a bowl. Stir to combine.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix.
- Remove the strawberry stacks from the freezer. Allow them to defrost just long enough to be able to remove the toothpicks.
- Pour 1/3 of the batter into a 8×4″ loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
- Insert the rows of strawberries point down into the center of the pan. Push them down until they are almost touching the bottom of the pan.
- Cover the strawberries with the remaining batter. It’s okay if a few are still peeking through.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 until the center is no longer squishy.
- Let it cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing and indulging. Or refrigerate before slicing for a firmer texture.