I was trying to choose what kind of layer cake to make for Easter this year, so I went back through my previous posts and considered making a carrot cake, then I thought about a white cake, or maybe a coconut cake. Still undecided, I ran across a recipe for a chocolate malt cake with vanilla malt frosting in “All-Time Favorite Sheet Cakes & Slab Pies” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, their new cookbook just released at the end of 2017. I immediately decided that malt would be the flavor of our Easter cake this year!
Malted milk powder is frequently displayed on a shelf with other flavored drink powders (like Nesquick), and Whoppers or other candies that you might want to use for the top of the cake are found with the candy displays. I found the set of three white ceramic bunnies at my local JoAnn Fabrics after-Easter sale last year for less than $4.
All the sheet cake and slab pie recipes in Weinstein and Scarbrough’s cookbook were specifically developed for what’s known as a half-sheet pan with dimensions of 13″ by 18″ by 1″ high. Their focus is on large informal gatherings like picnics and barbecues where everyone brings a dish to share. We own two half-sheet pans that get heavy use in our kitchen and I picked up the cookbook with the intention of trying a couple of the recipes for slab pies, but now I’m also looking forward to trying a couple more of the enticing cake recipes in the book in their preferred pan size.
In this instance, however, I was interested in the flavor profile of the chocolate malt cake so I adapted the recipe to make a 9″ round 2-layer decorated cake which requires less batter and more frosting than a large sheet cake needs.
After starting the oven and prepping my cake pans with PAM spray and parchment rounds, I melted the butter and chocolate in a small pan on the top of the stove and set it aside to cool. I whisked the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a smaller bowl, I whisked the milk and malt powder together , and set the three bowls together to take this photo. That’s when I noticed…
…I had clumps of malt powder floating in the milk. Those clumps just weren’t going to be whisked into the milk. So I finally had to squash each one with a spoon against the side of the bowl. Note: now I know that you should always sift malt powder just like I always sift confectioner’s sugar before using it in any recipe. Here’s my favorite sifter that is a must-have to be sure that there are no lumpy surprises in the frosting.
Next, I put the eggs in the bowl of my stand mixer with the whisk attachment, started the mixer on low and gradually added the sugar. I increased the speed to medium high after all the sugar was added and beat it for 2 or 3 minutes, until the mixture was thick and light. We had intermittent heavy rains and thunderstorms and it got so dark while I was making the cake that my photos that showed the egg and sugar being beaten didn’t turn out, but here’s a pretty good 1-minute video of the technique that shows the eggs beaten by hand, but the desired result is the same.
My photos of the final mixing steps were also not to my standards because of the lack of natural light, but fortunately the sky sort of cleared by the time I finished frosting and decorating, and with the better light I got a couple of decent photos showing the finished cake. I love the mellow not-too-sweet flavor of the chocolate malt cake with the added texture and flavor of milk chocolate chips. And I’m crazy about the vanilla malt frosting that’s so creamy and smooth and perfect for piping borders. The flavor is such a nice complement to the chocolate malt cake.
So if you’ve been looking for dessert inspiration for any special occasion this year and you have fond memories of chocolate and/or vanilla ice cream malts, think about making chocolate malt cake with vanilla malt frosting.
Please leave a question or a comment and rate this recipe with the stars below, then Pin, Tweet and/or share on Facebook and Instagram. If you make the recipe, I’d love it if you would come back and make a comment with your results.
Thanks, and bon appetit!
- 8 tablespoons (4 oz, 113 grams) butter, cut into small chunks (you can use 1/2 cup canola oil instead of butter, if you wish)
- 4 oz (113 grams) unsweetened baking chocolate
- 3 cups (12-3/4 oz, 360 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-1/2 cups (12 fluid oz) milk, whole or 2%
- 1 cup (5 oz, 140 grams) malted milk powder, sifted
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar (10-1/2 oz, 297 grams)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (1 package 10 oz to 12 oz) milk chocolate chips
- 3 sticks (12 oz, 340 grams) butter, at cool room temperature, about 68°F
- 1/2 cup (3.5 oz, 100 grams) shortening
- 3/4 cup (3.5 oz, 100 grams) malted milk powder. sifted
- 5 tablespoons (2.5 fluid oz) heavy cream, chilled
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 lb (454 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Candy malted milk “robin eggs” and multi-colored sprinkles for decorating
- Heat the oven to 350°F and have the rack in the center of the oven.
- Prepare two 9” round cake pans with baking spray and parchment.
- Break the chocolate into small pieces, then place it with the butter (or oil) in a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir until about 3/4 of the chocolate has melted.
- Remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring until smooth, then allow the mixture to cool for 20 minutes while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
- Whisk the milk and sifted malted milk powder in a second medium bowl until the powder dissolves.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until you can make wide ribbons (the mixture will almost double in volume).
- Switch to the flat paddle and with the mixer on low, mix the cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla into the egg mixture until smooth.
- Turn off the mixer and pour the flour mixture evenly over the batter.
- Beating at low speed, slowly pour in the milk mixture and continue beating just until there are no bits of dry flour in the batter.
- By hand, stir in the chocolate chips and mix just until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Spread the batter equally in the prepared pans.
- Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until the cakes are starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes; turn the cakes out onto the rack and peel off the parchment, then turn the cakes right side up and cool completely before frosting.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer with the flat paddle, beat the butter, shortening, and malted milk powder in a large bowl at medium speed until creamy and light, about 2 minutes.
- Starting on low speed, mix in the vanilla and half the heavy cream, then turn up the speed to medium and beat until smooth.
- Stop the mixer and add half the confectioners’ sugar then mix on low speed until smooth.
- Stop the mixer again, scrape down the sides, and add remaining sugar, mixing on low speed until smooth, then add the remaining heavy cream, mixing until smooth.
- Scrape down the sides then increase the mixer speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is fluffy, smooth, and spreadable.
- Frost and decorate the completely cooled cake as desired.
Butter for the frosting should be about 68°F for the smoothest & lightest results. Shortening can be a couple of degrees warmer.
Buy confectioner's sugar in the 1 lb box and you can just put it straight into the sifter.
Leftover cake should be refrigerated and brought to room temperature for serving.
There may be links in this post to companies and/or websites with which I have no affiliation, but the links show products that I love and use, or information that I find interesting and helpful.
Nearly all products I mention can be found in independent stores near you, and I encourage you to “Shop Local”.