Heart Cake For Your Little Valentine Loves

By Tracy Lane

My kindergartner might not be a professional decorator yet, but she is an excellent listener. She jolted out of the car before I’d even shifted into park in our garage. She beelined for the recycle bin, digging deep for the Nike box she remembered we finally discarded from Christmas gifting.

“Momma, you aren’t allowed to help me. Because I don’t even need your help. I’m big now. I know just how I want to decorate my box!”

Carrying her backpack inside, I discovered a pink note safety pinned to the handle: Next week we will have a class Valentine’s party. Your student will need to bring a box to collect valentines in. Your student should decorate the box. The parents should not help.

A mom should not help?! But my daughter is in kindergarten. Her decorated shoebox will be jaggedy and mismatched. And the hodgepodge container will most certainly appear in all of her class’s public Valentine’s Party pictures.

It took me just a moment to realize how crazy I was feeling (and thinking). What matters so much about a Valentine’s box? My motherhood worth obviously doesn’t hinge on my five-year-old’s version of artistic masterpiece.

Am I the only mom who’s been there? Please tell me I’m not!

For me, and all the other wanting-the-best parents who are dying that they can’t get the decorations just right, I propose a recipe. Hey, we might not be able to bring in a flawless box to the holiday party but we can most definitely contribute a yummy treat that will bring praise to the baker.

So let your child color, cut, and scatter glitter any old way while you whip up this heart-shaped strawberry cake that is sure to be a new holiday hit. And sure to appease your need for a little Valentine merriment perfection.

Just for the record, my daughter’s box has turned out super adorable. How precious and so southern is it that she put her monogram on the top? Let’s just hope nobody scratches their hand inserting heart cards through that mail drop slot…


Strawberry Valentine’s Day Cake



1 box white cake mix

3oz. box strawberry Jello

2 T. flour

4 eggs

½ c. water

¾ c. cooking oil

5oz. frozen strawberries, pureed in blender


  1. Mix together the first five ingredients. Beat two minutes with an electric mixer. Add purred strawberries and beat one more minute. Add oil and beat one more minute.
  2. To make a heart-shaped cake, grease and flour a 9” heart shaped cake pan. Pour in half the batter. Bake 350◦ for 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Upon removing from oven, let sit for 15-20 minutes to begin to cool. Turn upside down on a platter to turn the cake out of the pan. Ice when completely cool.
  3. Use the other half of the batter to make 12 cupcakes, pouring ¼ c. batter into each cupcake baking cup. Bake cupcakes at 350◦ for 15 minutes.  Let cool. Ice when completely cool.
  4. (If you don’t have a heart-shaped pan, you can pour then entire batter into a 9x13 baking pan and bake at 350◦ for 30 minutes.)


1 stick butter, softened (not melted!)

4 c. powdered sugar

5 oz. frozen strawberries, pureed in blender

1 t. vanilla


  1. Mix all with electric mixer until smooth. Ice cake and cupcakes when completely cool.