Woah! Here it is nearly Easter already! It is Good Friday to be specific. So anyone who knows me, knows that today I am baking my Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns.
They are so tasty and if you bake them on Good Friday, they actually have some magical properties. With the year we’ve had, I need all the magic I can get! But let me focus on today’s recipe. And ya’ll…it is soooo amazing! I give you Malted Chocolate Easter Cake!
This cake has got it all. Most importantly it is absolutely delicious, but it is also not too hard on the eyes either! The malted chocolate cake is so rich and moist.
The frosting, which is my favorite Swiss Meringue Buttercream, is so silky and creamy.
But it doesn’t stop there, no. It is adorned with my one of my favorite Easter treats, Robin Eggs, which are malted milk balls dressed up to look like, well… Robin Eggs.
And taking a cue from them, the cake itself is reminiscent of a robin’s egg with it’s pale blue frosting bespeckled with cocoa. Good looks and great taste!
In past years, I have been on a roll (ha ha – you’ll get it with the next few words) making Easter Breads (get it? roll…bread…) from around the world. Last year I gave you Polish Babka.
And the year before was Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread.
Don’t forget my Italian Easter Bread:
Or that amazing Tsoureki from Greece:
There was the Slovak Paska:
And then quite a few years ago, I tried my hand at this impressive Russian Kulich:
That is a whole lot of Easter bread huh? But ya’ll this Malted Chocolate Cake tempted me to stray from my chosen Easter bread path! It all started when good friends of ours (shout out to Stephen & Julie – thank you so much!) gave us Joanne Chang’s new cookbook, Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favorite Recipes. Chef Chang is the owner of Flour Bakery as well as a James Beard award winner for Outstanding Baker. In her new book, she shares her best-loved cookies, cakes and confections from Flour Bakery and Cafe. It is chock full of gorgeous photos and very approachable recipes. She is able to eloquently explain some of the more difficult baking techniques in an easy to follow, friendly manner. You should definitely check it out. It was here that I first saw this Malted Chocolate Cake and instantly knew that we were destined for one another.
Seriously, I cannot get enough of that roasted, caramelized malted flavor!
This cake does require quite a few steps, but you can easily break them up over the span of several days. The vanilla syrup and chocolate speckle can be made days in advance. The cakes can be baked on another. The frosting on the next, you get it. Then there is just assembly on the day you want to serve it.
I will say that speckle took a bit of practice to get down. Use an old fashioned, bristle pastry brush rather than a silicone one. But overall it was pretty dang easy and believe you me, soooo worth it!
The husband isn’t usually one for chocolate desserts. But even he could not resist this Malted Chocolate Easter Cake and has already had a couple of pieces! That is high praise indeed! I hope everyone has a very Happy Easter!
Malted Chocolate Easter Cake
recipe from: Pastry Love by Joanne Chang
For the Cake:
- 210 grams (1 1/2 cups) malted milk powder
- 175 grams (1 1/4 cups) all purpose flour
- 60 grams (1/2 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted after measuring
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 200 grams ( 1 cup) sugar
- 2 large eggs ( about 100 grams) at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk (about 20 grams) at room temperature
- 110 grams (1/2 cup) vegetable oil (such as canola)
- 240 grams (1 cup) whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Malted Milk Frosting (recipe noted below)
Vanilla Syrup (recipe noted below)
Chocolate Speckle (recipe noted below)
Preheat the oven to 325° F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line the bottoms of two 8″ cake pans with parchment paper circles. Spray the sides lightly with pan spray or very lightly brush with vegetable oil. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the malted milk powder, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the sugar, whole eggs and egg yolk on medium hight speed until the mixture falls back onto itself in ribbons when you lift the whisk up. Turn the mixer to low and slowly drizzle in the oil. Turn off the mixer and add about one third of the flour mixture. Turn the mixer on to the lowest speed and mix just until most of the flour mixture has been incorporated into the eggs, about 10 seconds. Stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the whisk. Add about half the milk along with the vanilla and turn the mixer back onto the lowest speed. Gently combine until most of the milk is mixed into the batter. stop the mixer and again scrape the bowl and the whisk. Add half the remaining flour mixture; mix on low until it’s mostly mixed in, then stop and scrape. Add the rest of the milk and mix again on low util it is mostly mixed in. Remove the bowl from the mixer , add the last of the flour mixture, and gently fold by hand with a rubber spatula until all of it is incorporated into the batter. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans midway through the baking time, until the cakes spring back when you poke them in the middle and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when you insert it into the middle of the cake. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in the baking pans on a wire rack.
While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the frosting and vanilla syrup and set them aside.
Once the cakes are completely cool, run a small paring knife around the edges of the cakes and remove them from the pans. Peel off the parchment circles. trim the tops of the cakes to level them (they will have rounded a bit in the oven, and the scraps are your reward for your hard work so far). Place one cake on a large flat plate or serving platter or a rotating cake stand and use a pastry brush to brush and soak the cake with about half the vanilla syrup. Spoon about 1 cup of the frosting on top; use an offset spatula to spread it evenly to the edges of the cake. Carefully place the second cake upside down (for even, sharp edges on the final cake) on top of the first cake and soak with the remaining vanilla syrup. Spoon another 1 cup of the frosting on top of the cake. Spread the frosting to the edges of the cake and then down the sides, smoothing it as well as you can and covering the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting. This is called a crumb coat. It will keep loose crumbs from migrating to the surface of the finished cake. Refrigerate the cake for about 15 minutes to set the crumb coat completely.
If you are making the cake for Easter and would like it to have that lovely robins egg hue, now is the time to add a few drops of food coloring to the remaining frosting. Fit a pastry bag with a star tip and fill it with all but about 1 cup of the frosting. Set aside.
Remove the cake from the fridge and spoon the remaining frosting on the cake; spread it every over the top and sides. This is the final finishing layer of frosting. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula dipped in hot water and dried off before using.
Make the chocolate speckle, if using. When you specks the cake, be sure to place the cake on a flat plate and place the on large empty work surface covered in plastic or parchment paper so cleanup is easier. Dip four fingers into the speckle and use a pastry brush to quickly and firmly flick and hit the chocolate off your fingers i the direction of the cake to create random spots, to mimic a robin’s egg. (Test this in the kitchen sink at first so you get the movement down.)
If the cake is not already on a serving platter, carefully transfer it to one. Pipe a border of frosting along the top or the bottom edge of the cake, or both. Decorate with Robin Eggs malted milk ball candy if you prefer.
The frosted cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
- 120 grams (1/2 cup) water
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool before using.
The syrup can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge indefinitely.
- 2 Tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted after measuring
In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with 2 T. of water until smooth. The speckle will be a thing paste, no runny and not thick like speckle either, but somewhere in between.
Speckle can be stored in a airtight container in the fridge indefinitely. It is easiest to use when chilled. Rewhisk before using.
Malted Milk Frosting
- 135 grams (2/3 cup) superfine sugar
- 2 large egg whites ( about 1/4 cup or 60 grams) at room temperature
- 455 grams (2 cups or 4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 420 grams(3 1/2 cups) confectioners sugar
- 105 grams (3/4 cup) malted milk powder
- 2 Tablespoons whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract ( I used vanilla paste & prefer it – plus the vanilla bean specks in it add to the speckled robins egg appearance)
- pinch of kosher salt
In a medium metal of heatproof glass bowl, whisk together the superfine sugar and egg whites to make a thick slurry. Place the bowl over a small pot of simmering water, make sure the pot is small enough the the bowl sits above the water and not directly touching it, or you may end up with scrambled egg whites. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture is hot to the touch, 6 to 8 minutes.
Pour the sugar-egg white mixture into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium high for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture cools. Add the butter bit by bit and whip on medium until the butter is thoroughly incorporated. Add the confectioners’ sugar, malted milk powder, milk, vanilla, and salt and whip on medium until the frosting is smooth and satiny.
The frosting can be store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Before using, let it sit out at room temperature for at least 6 hours or ideally overnight. Place the frosting in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until it smooths out again. It will look broken (curdled and very lumpy, possibly even separated with some liquid seeping out) for a while until it warms up, but don’t panic – just keep beating it and be patient.
Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Malted Chocolate Easter Cake:
Wilton Icing Colors – Gel will not thin icing
Pastry Love by Joanne Chang – LOVE this cookbook!