Bon Appétit (September 2010)
Last Christmas, we made a Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Homemade Marshmallows. With its layers of chocolate cake and icing topped by a springy white halo of marshmallows, we called it "flirty and fun," "light-hearted" and "whimsical."
Now imagine that whimsical, sweet, fun little cake all grown up and in high school, ditching class to smoke in the parking lot, making out under the bleachers, and stealing its parents' car for joyrides to the lake.
In other words, this Chocolate-Malt Cake is dangerously -- deliciously -- bad.
With molasses, burnt marshmallows and dark malt flavor at every turn, this cake is everything that whimsical, innocent little cake wasn't.
This cake? It's downright nasty.
Go ahead and lick the screen. It's cool.
Hopefully, it's obvious that we mean "nasty" in absolutely the best way possible. This cake is sinfully good.
This Chocolate-Malt Cake is from the September Bon Appétit feature on desserts from Momofuku Milk Bar, the same spread that inspired us to make Crack Pie. (Incidentally, this cake is the third dessert we made from that one issue of Bon Appétit, which just might be a record for us. It seems we're on a fall dessert binge.)
This cake is decidedly not a quick, throw-together dessert -- note the 20 hours of prep time in the recipe. We served this on a recent Wednesday night, and we had to get started on Monday.
But sometimes it can be so enjoyable to really get into a complicated recipe like this, to prepare all the separate parts and then assemble them in one big ol' cake.
On Monday night, we made the Milk Crumbs and the Malt-Fudge Sauce. The Milk Crumbs are sweet, crunchy little bits that will later be mixed with Ovaltine Chocolate Malt Mix and white chocolate to make Chocolate-Malt Crumbs.
Tuesday night, we made the cake layers themselves, as well as the Chocolate-Malt Crumbs. Once the cake layers were cool, we assembled the cake in a springform pan, layering cake, an Ovaltine-milk mixture, malt-fudge sauce, chocolate-malt crumbs, more fudge sauce and then marshmallows. Once the marshmallows are added, they're then toasted with a kitchen torch.
And then we repeated that two more times with the other layers, before placing the assembled cake in the fridge, where it would rest overnight.
Then on Wednesday, we took the cake out of the springform pan, drizzled on more fudge sauce and more marshmallows and then torched those. Then, only three hours later, it was ready to eat!
We did have one major problem in our execution: something was off in our cake layers. They rose more than we expected while they were baking in the oven, and then fell once they cooled. So they weren't quite substantial enough to support everything else once we started layering. The cake somewhat maintained its shape -- barely -- until it was time to serve. After our guests left that night, though, we just scooped the rest of the crumbling cake into a bowl. It was a big sloppy mess. But don't think for one second we were about to throw it away!
So this is not the simplest dessert to prepare. (One thought that might make this easier? Save yourself the trouble of making the Milk Crumbs and the Chocolate-Malt Crumbs by just buying a bag of Whoppers and chopping them in the food processor for a second. Yeah, it's a cheat, but hey -- you're already using Ovaltine here. Why not Whoppers?)
The result of all this work for a cake, though, will positively blow your mind.
The dense, dark chocolate of the cake layers and the sweet, gooey fudge sauce are gloriously rich. But the malt flavor that's used throughout really takes this cake into the stratosphere. It gives the whole thing this amazing "toasted," "burned" flavor, like the cake is almost caramelized. Toasting the marshmallows with the torch just takes it even further. And the chocolate-malt crumbs add a terrific little bit of crunch.
The whole thing just tastes naughty and sinful and dark and, well, nasty. So give in to your nasty side and try this cake -- we promise it'll be the best dessert you make all fall.
PREP: 1 hour 30 minutes
TOTAL: 20 hours (includes baking, cooling, and chilling time)
2/3 cup Milk Crumbs (see below)
6 tablespoons Ovaltine Chocolate Malt Mix
1 1/2 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped
1 1/3 cups Ovaltine Chocolate Malt Mix
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% to 72% cacao), chopped
1 teaspoon mild-flavored (light) molasses
Pinch of coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% to 72% cacao), chopped
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons Ovaltine Classic Malt Mix
2 cups mini marshmallows
Stand mixer with paddle attachment
3 8-inch cake pans with 1 1/2-inch sides
8-inch springform pan
Mix Milk Crumbs and Ovaltine in small bowl. Place white chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave in 15-second intervals just until melted, stirring occasionally. Drizzle chocolate over Milk Crumb mixture; toss to coat.
Place first 4 ingredients in medium bowl; set aside. Combine cream, corn syrup, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour cream mixture over chocolate mixture in bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Whisk until sauce is glossy, about 1 minute. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Cool completely. Cover and chill. Rewarm just until pourable before using.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottom of each pan with parchment round; coat parchment with nonstick spray. Place chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Melt in microwave in 15-second intervals just until melted, stirring occasionally. Set aside. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and coarse salt into medium bowl. Combine butter, sugar, and corn syrup in large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs; beat on low speed to incorporate, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add melted chocolate. Beat until blended, about 1 minute. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium-high speed until pale brown, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed just until blended, about 45 seconds. Divide batter among pans; smooth tops.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pans on racks.
Stir milk and Ovaltine in small bowl. Invert 1 cake from pan onto flat plate or tart pan bottom; peel off parchment. Place cake, top side down, in 8-inch springform pan. Brush cake with generous 2 1/2 tablespoons Ovaltine-milk mixture. Let Ovaltine-milk mixture soak into cake. Drizzle 1/3 cup malt-fudge sauce over cake; spread evenly over top. Sprinkle 1/2 cup chocolate-malt crumbs over sauce. Drizzle 1/3 cup malt-fudge sauce over crumbs. Scatter 1 cup mini marshmallows over. Using kitchen torch, toast marshmallows. Repeat with second cake layer, Ovaltine-milk mixture, malt-fudge sauce, chocolate-malt crumbs, malt-fudge sauce, and marshmallows. Remove third cake from pan; peel off parchment. Place cake, top side down, atop marshmallows on second cake layer. Brush with remaining Ovaltine-milk mixture (assembled cake will rise well above edge of pan). Cover cake with plastic wrap; chill overnight. Cover and chill fudge sauce.
Run thin knife around sides of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides. Place cake (still on springform pan bottom) on plate. Rewarm sauce just until pourable. Pour over top of cake, allowing sauce to drip over edges. Mound handful of marshmallows in center of cake. Using kitchen torch, toast marshmallows. Sprinkle remaining malt crumbs over cake. Let cake stand at room temperature 3 hours before serving.
Cut cake into wedges and serve.
Makes about 2 cups
PREP: 15 minutes
TOTAL: 1 hours (includes baking and cooling time)
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 275°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Combine milk powder, flour, sugar, cornstarch, and coarse salt in medium bowl; toss to mix evenly. Add butter; stir with fork until clusters form. Spread mixture evenly on prepared sheet. Bake until crumbs are dry and crumbly but still pale, about 10 minutes. Cool Milk Crumbs completely on sheet. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.