The Made-It-All-For-Him Wall

June 16, 2010

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Some of you are going to balk when I say this, but….sometimes the fact that someone *loves* chocolate can be so….limiting.  Yes, limiting.  When chocolate is the be-all-and-end-all for a person….and you’ve already made them your best Flourless Chocolate Cake and your best Devil’s Food Cake and your best Midnight Chocolate….where do you go/what do you do to show them that you’re trying to go out of your way for them?  If you make them just another chocolate cake, it may seem like you’re just grabbing an old standby rather than pulling out all the stops.

This is what happens every time BBE’s*  birthday comes around.  He loves chocolate.  Check.  I’ve made him all manor of chocolate treats.  Check.  But I want him to know that not only do I want to make him a cake….I really, really, want to MAKE HIM A CAKE.  Where he’ll know there was muss, fuss and all sorts of thought and effort put into it, on his behalf…and this past year, I had hit the “made-them-all-for-him” wall….

I did research.  I looked through cookbooks, read food blogs and food sites and quizzed people about their favorite chocolate cakes hoping something would leap up as ‘the one’….but nothing did.  And the birthday was coming ever closer……and then it happened:  the save.  The inspiration.  I stopped by to meet BBE for lunch and just happened to bring some Whoppers with me.  When I offered him some, he got all excited and said “Oh yes!  I love Whoppers!….Mmmmmm!”  So that was it—Malted!  I’d done chocolate everything else, so this year was going to be a Chocolate Malted Cake.

I wasn’t sure if I was just going to make one of my tried-and-true chocolate cakes and add crushed malted milk balls to the filling and frosting…. or if I would add the candies right into the cake batter itself….or  if I would add malt powder to the cake….so I went online and as soon as I saw this recipe for Triple Malt Cake with Vanilla Malted Frosting, the search and the questions came to an end!  If you like malted milk balls and you click on the link and see the picture of their cake, I bet you’ll be headed to the kitchen to make it as quickly as I was!

I followed the recipe pretty closely–just adding 1/2 Tablespoon of Instant Coffee to the cake batter (This a downgrade from my usual 1 Tablespoon of Espresso Powder in chocolate cakes…the malted milk powder has quite a ‘smack’ to it, so I was wary of upsetting the balance….this worked out just fine)  and upping the sugar in the icing to 2 cups, to give it a bit more body, which it did.

And *was* it good!  Moist, rich, dense, great chocolate flavor…and while the malt doesn’t come through the way it does, say, in a malted milkshake…what it does here is give you a cake with great texture and a taste of that certain something you just can’t put your finger on…..but you wish you could so you could put your finger (and your mouth!) on more of it.  *smile*

What did BBE think about his birthday cake?  He loved it!  While it wasn’t the architectural masterpiece of years before (this cake is easy to make–bonus!), it looks really impressive, tastes great…..and he loved that I remembered his excitement over the whoppers and incorporated them into his birthday cake.

Bingo!   Thoughtful chocolate birthday cake achieved!

At least until next year…..

* (BBE = Best Boss Ever.  Years ago I took a three-day temp job…got along with the boss so well I worked freelance for him for years between gigs….he quickly went from boss to friend…but I still think of him as BBE. *smile*)

Triple Malt Cake with Vanilla Malted Frosting
adapted only slightly from this recipe on

Triple Malt Chocolate Cake

2 cups Malted Milk Powder
1 2/3 cups AP Flour
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3/4 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/3 cups Whole Milk (see note)
1/2 Tablespoon Instant Coffee
3 large Eggs
1 1/3 cups Sugar
2/3 cup Oil  ( I used canola)
2 teaspoons Vanilla

1 recipe Vanilla Malt Frosting
1 cup malted milk balls, coarsely chopped

Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange the rack in the middle.

Coat 2 (8-inch) cake pans with oil and flour, and tap out any excess flour.  (Or use a flour-added baking spray, as I did.)  Line with parchment or wax paper circles and oil/flour (or spray).

In a medium bowl, combine malted milk powder, flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps.

In a two-cup measure, mix milk and instant coffee, until the granules have dissolved.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla and whisk until combined and smooth.

Add in the flour mixture and milk mixture, alternating between each and whisking until all ingredients are just incorporated and smooth.  Begin and end with the flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cakes start pulling away from the sides of the pans, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Remove cakes from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges, and turn cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

To Frost:

Spread about 1/3 of the frosting over the top of the first layer. Stack the second layer, and evenly spread another 1/3 of the frosting over the top and sides of the whole cake. (This is called the base coat or crumb coat.  This will catch all the dark chocolate cake crumbs and they won’t show through at the end.) Put in the fridge and wait until set, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, ensuring it’s as even as possible. Press malt balls into the frosting on the top and sides of the cake and serve.

Note: I often use/substitute skim, one or two percent milk in cakes with no ill-effect…but in this case, I thought the creaminess of whole milk was needed to help balance the malted milk powder, so I stuck with whole milk.

Further Notes: I waited to put the top layer of icing (the one after the crumb coat) and crushed whoppers on until just before my guests arrived, and then put it in the fridge to set.  You can do it earlier, but the whoppers will soften as time goes on.  There is a lot of butter in the icing, so best to keep the cake refrigerated and take it out no more than 20 minutes before serving, otherwise the icing may look a bit greasy.

Vanilla Malted Frosting

3 sticks (12 ounces) Unsalted Butter,  room temperature
2 cups Powdered Sugar
3/4 cup Malted Milk Powder
1/2 cup Whole Milk,  room temperature
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated.

Increase speed to medium high and beat until mixture is light and whipped, about 3 minutes.  Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add remaining ingredients and return to low speed until ingredients are incorporated. Increase speed to medium high and continue whipping until frosting is evenly combined and light, about 3 minutes.

May be used to frost cakes, cupcakes, or cookies.

The frosting will last up to 1 week when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Filed Under: Dessert, Recipe, Sweet

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anna June 18, 2010 at 8:28 am

Well, I am going to have to find out what your *best* devil’s food cake is because you can’t have too many good chocolate cake recipes.

But I totally know what you mean about chocolate being limiting. For instance, right now berries are in season and I could be making loads of cherry pies, light lemony desserts or summery fare, but most days I don’t want to waste calories on things that aren’t chocolate so I end up making the usual cakes or cookies.

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