Chocolate Malt Layer Cake is dense, moist and totally decadent. Chopped malted milk balls add flavor and crunch. You need this dessert!
There are many sweet flavor pairings I adore, and chocolate + malt is right at the top of that list. Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor, because I can still clearly remember the first time I tried malted milk balls in the fifth grade.
There’s something about childhood food memories that makes the flavors taste that much better, you know? By now you’ve seen me create many chocolate malt desserts, including: bark, truffles, ice cream, and boozy milkshakes. Chocolate malt layer cake was an obvious choice.
The crunch of the milk balls on top of decadent, rich chocolate cake and fluffy malted meringue buttercream make this a dessert worthy of your time.
I realize that meringue buttercream can be a bit intimidating if you haven’t tried it, but I promise you it is so worth taking the time to learn. I feel very strongly about this.
Every time I cave and try creating a recipe for the blog that uses an American buttercream, I have to start over. Now, I realize this is a personal preference.
For me, the texture and, more importantly, the overbearing level of sweetness are simply too much. You know how if a dish is too spicy, it blows out your palette and you can’t taste any other flavors?
That’s how I feel about buttercream and any dessert that is too sweet. I want to taste the other flavors.
Anyway, in case you missed it, I recently wrote an article all about buttercream. It covers many basics such as different buttercreams and the pros and cons of each. I discuss how to prevent meringue buttercream from breaking and how to fix common mistakes (spoiler: broken buttercream can almost always be fixed!)
Natural Vs. Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder
This recipe uses Dutch-process cocoa powder. Did you know that different types of cocoa powder can produce different results in your recipe? If you’d like to know more about this, check out my post Natural vs. Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder.
Want to know more about Buttercream Basics and How to Create the Perfect Layer Cake?
- Check out my post on buttercream here!
- Read this post all about how to create the perfect layer cake!
Chocolate Malt Layer Cake
- 10 1/2 ounces (approximately 2 cups + 1 1/2 tablespoons flour) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 ounces (9 tablespoons) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cups half-and-half (or 50% cream and 50% whole milk)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 9 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 21 ounces (2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 5 large egg whites
- 16 ounces (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
- 1/3 cup malted milk powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup malted milk balls, chopped
Prepare the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the middle position. Lightly grease the bottom (not the sides) of three 8-inch cake pans with baking spray and then cover them with parchment rounds. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Sift in the cocoa powder and whisk until the dry ingredients are evenly combined. In a separate small bowl, combine the half & half and vanilla extract.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on low speed for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing each egg to incorporate before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer still on low speed, swiftly alternate between adding the dry and liquid ingredients over the course of a minute. Scrape down the sides well, making sure to reach the bottom of the bowl. Turn the mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.
- Distribute the batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake pans, using a spatula to even out the tops.
- Bake until the a toothpick comes out of the center of each cake clean, approximately 30-35 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pan before removing.
Prepare the buttercream:
- Place the sugar and water in saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Turn the heat on high and cover.
- While the sugar syrup is heating up, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until a soft peak forms, then turn down the speed to medium.
- Once the sugar syrup is simmering, remove the cover from the pan and turn the heat down slightly to medium high. Cook the syrup for 5 minutes and then slowly and carefully pour it down the side of the mixing bowl into the meringue while the machine is still mixing. Add the syrup very slowly to avoid scrambling the eggs.
- Once the syrup is added, turn the mixer back up to high and allow the meringue to cool as it whips. This can take up to 20 minutes.
- Once the meringue has cooled to room temperature, slowly add the butter one piece at a time. The meringue will deflate slightly.
- Once all of the butter is incorporated, slowly drizzle in the malted milk mixture until the frosting is evenly combined.
Assemble the cake:
- Place the first layer of cake on a revolving cake stand and remove the parchment paper. Placing a cardboard round below the cake is optional but will make transporting the cake easier after it is assembled.
- Spread approximately one cup of buttercream on the cake and spread it around evenly with an offset spatula. Add more buttercream as needed to reached the desired thickness. Repeat with the second and third layer (don't forget to remove the parchment each time). Use an offset spatula to apply a thin layer of frosting to the side and top of the cake. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set this first layer of buttercream. Cover the entire cake with a final layer of frosting. Top with chopped malted milk balls.
- Cake is best when served at room temperature.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
For immediate help troubleshooting a recipe, please email me using the form on my contact page. I’ll try to respond to urgent questions as quickly as possible! For all general questions, please leave a comment here :)
Naomi Robinson says
Gorgeous cake, Jennifer! I love it.
This cake is an absolute stunner girl! I want a slice of this masterpiece right now.
This is one beautiful cake, Jenn! I love it.
Alice Choi says
Jen, oh my gawd. . this cake. . and your photos. . I told you how I felt about your photography in Miami. . damn, girl. These are beautiful. Personally, I am a huge fan of malted milk balls so you got my vote!
Tutti Dolci says
So gorgeous, love that malt ball topping!
Lisa @ Healthy Nibbles & Bits says
This cake is simply beautiful. Chocolate cake is definitely my favorite. Good luck!
Sarah @ Snixy Kitchen says
Totally voting! This cake looks so pretty! Congrats on the BHG feature:)
Wow, that looks beautiful! I just love your photography, so simple and pretty. The cake sounds delish too!
Jessie Oleson Moore says
I just love this. I love malted anything, and this is just gorgeous.
This is beautiful! and such a friendly, fun competition with sugar! Yay!
Shanna @ pineapple and coconut says
Wish I was eating this right now!
Julia Frey@Vikalinka says
We’ve been eating cakes for the last two weeks as I’ve been on a cake making spree and I thought I was all caked-out but I really, really want a slice of yours! I am DEFINITELY making it for the holidays. So beautiful.
Laura Dembowski says
OMG! This cake looks amazing! What a cool opportunity with Better Homes and Gardens too!
This cake is so freaking gorgeous!
Your cake looks amazing, your photos are absolutely beautiful.