I’m going to start with the bad news: unfortunately I did not bring home a prize at this year’s bake-off. I was bummed but have consoled myself with these two thoughts: 1) a second trophy would just be plain ostentatious on top of my fridge, and 2) this cake recipe was not meant to be consumed in one-square-inch portions.
You see, at this bake-off we were asked to cut our desserts into one-square-inch pieces so that many people would be able to sample them and then vote for their favorite. Problem is, this cake is best enjoyed as one big sloppy piece. It’s a triple layer cake and you gotta get all three layers and the frosting in a single bite to capture all of its wonderment. You live, you learn.
I will admit that this recipe is not for every home baker. If you are looking for a simple cake to make for a loved one’s birthday, this ain’t it. This is the cake you make when you’ve got a few hours to spare and really want to impress people with something a little out of the ordinary.
My mom has a rule that any recipe she tries has to be two pages or less– if it’s more than two pages she says it’s too complicated. Well Mom, this is a three-pager. Sorry.
It starts out with a white chocolate/malt/milk powder crunch. Then there’s the malt fudge sauce. And the malt chocolate cake.
The one fussy thing about this recipe that I don’t love is that you have to whip up egg whites until they form soft peaks and then fold the egg whites into the batter. It takes an extra seven minutes to do and then you have to figure out what to do with the egg yolks you don’t need, (I froze mine to save for ice cream-making at a later date) but I will admit it makes for a nice light, fluffy cake.
Once you’ve made the malt crunch, the malt fudge, and the malt cake you start to layer them up…
Then you whip up some cocoa mascarpone frosting and frost the heck out of those layers. I mean, who says this cake is not a winner? In my book it is.
Chocolate Malt Crunch Cake
Malt Crunch (adapted slightly from recipe found in “Momofuku Milk Bar” by Christina Tosi)
- ¾ cup milk powder
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
- 6 ounces white chocolate, melted
- ¾ cup malt powder
Heat oven to 250 degrees.
Combine ½ cup of the milk powder (reserve ¼ cup for later), flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Toss with your hands to mix. Add the melted butter and toss, using a spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.
Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat- lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool the crumbs completely.
Crumble any milk crumb clusters that are larger than ½ inch in diameter, and put the crumbs in a medium bowl. Add the reserved ¼ cup milk powder and toss together until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
Pour half of the melted white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your clusters are enrobed. Then add the malt powder and toss with the milk crumbs until all of the crumbs are a light brown.
Pour the remaining melted white chocolate over the crumbs and continue tossing until all of the clusters are enrobed. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes to cool and then toss again and break up large clusters. The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.
Malt Fudge Sauce (adapted slightly from recipe found in “Momofuku Milk Bar” by Christina Tosi)
- 2 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup malt powder, sifted
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1/8 cup sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
Combine the chocolate, malt powder, molasses, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine the corn syrup, sugar, and heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir intermittently while bringing to boil over high heat. The moment it boils, pour it into the bowl holding the chocolate. Let sit for 1 full minute.
Slowly begin to whisk the mixture. Then continue, increasing the vigor of your whisking every 30 seconds, until the mixture is glossy and silky-smooth. The sauce can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks; do not freeze.
Chocolate Malt Cake (adapted slightly from recipe found in “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)
- 2 cups cake flour
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup malted milk powder
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups ice cold water
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
Sift the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg together into a large bowl. Whisk in the malted milk powder. Set aside
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Do not over-beat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 minutes to 45 minutes, rotating the pans twice during the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.
Cocoa Mascarpone Frosting
- 1 (8-ounce) package mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- ¾ cup cocoa powder, sifted
- 3.5 oz. milk chocolate bar, chopped and melted
Blend mascarpone cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl with beater or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment at medium speed until combined. Add cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar and blend on low. Add melted milk chocolate and blend until smooth.
Place one cake round on plate. Re-heat the Malt Fudge Sauce if necessary by microwaving at 30-second intervals in the microwave until at spreadable consistency. Spread approximately half of the Malt Fudge Sauce over the cake and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle about ½ cup of the Malt Crunch over the fudge. Place second cake round on top and repeat with Malt Fudge Sauce layer and Malt Crunch. Place third cake round on top. Frost top and sides of cake with Cocoa Mascarpone Frosting.