Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream

 My birthday is this weekend! I’m going to be 31 😁 I feel a little old, but I’m also really enjoying this phase of my life. 

In my 31st year, I have:

  • seen my family on six separate occasions (together and individually), including my 30th birthday trip to Santa Fe, a super-secret surprise trip to Austin for E3’s birthday, and visits to NYC from my mom, both sisters, and sister-in-law. That’s the most time I’ve spent with them since I moved to NYC in 2007. The older I get, the more I appreciate the amazing people who made me who I am.
  • spent some time off the grid in Maine, and enjoyed it way more than I ever expected. I can’t wait to do it again in a few weeks.
  • catered a dinner party for 300 people. I had three amazing helpers, and it went off without a hitch despite the six weeks of panic that preceded it. I hope to do it again this year…because I am insane.
  • moved. And moving in New York is horrible. Heck, moving anywhere is horrible. But I love my new apartment. Shoutout to my mom for coming to help me on the coldest weekend ever.
  • navigated my way through some major life changes and lessons with some modicum of grace and dignity.
  • opened my own Netflix account. #adulting
  • realized that I am still figuring out who I am. I hope this never ends.
  • made a lot of cookies. And eaten a lot of cookies.
  • really fallen in love with my friendships. My friends really stepped up and took care of me this year when I didn’t feel like I could do it myself. There’s nothing like laughing ’til you cry when you feel like your life is a mess. Thanks, guys.
  • started a baking blog. I dreamt of having this blog for six years before hitting “publish.” Thank you for reading, liking, sharing, and making the recipes. Thank you for making this little corner of the Internet what it is: a place filled with sugar and ridiculousness. Without you, I’m just talking to myself. 

…that got a lot mushier than I intended. 

This weekend, I’ll be celebrating at a cookout with those I hold nearest and dearest. My friends are making dinner, and I can’t wait! They offered to make dessert too, but being me, I just couldn’t leave well enough alone. I’ll be there with pie 😊

Of course, I thought about cake, but with the heat we’ve been having, I am afraid the frosting would melt. But I just can’t let my birthday go by without cake, so I’ve been celebrating a little early with this Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream. The cake is moist, fluffy, and so, so easy. The best part? No mixer required! I’ve been making this cake for two years, and I can safely say that it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. And that’s coming from a self-proclaimed vanilla person. 

The frosting is a tribute to one of my very favorite things: chocolate malts. Oh yes, I love a chocolate malt. I just *have* to have one at least twice a month. It only seems appropriate that I’d use it as inspiration for my birthday cake frosting. This is a super easy chocolate buttercream with a hefty dose of malted milk powder. It’s creamy, dreamy, chocolaty, malty magic. If malt isn’t your thing, I recommend replacing the cup of malted milk powder in the recipe with an additional cup of confectioner’s sugar. It’ll still be delicious 😊 

As for decorating, I went for a sort of naked cake approach here, using the bulk of the frosting to frost the top and fill the layers. This recipe makes enough frosting to fully frost and fill a two layer 9″ round cake, if you’d like to cover the whole thing. If you want to pipe, you’ll need to make 1.5 times the recipe. No matter which route you choose to go, your cake will be fantastic.

If you don’t have a reason to make cake this weekend, I give you full permission to use my birthday as an excuse. We’re Internet friends after all. And friends who eat Malted Chocolate Buttercream together stay together, right?!

Have a great weekend! 

 Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream
cake recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes one two layer 9″ round cake

For the pan:
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

Cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch Process)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine)*
1 cup strong, hot coffee (decaf is fine)

Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup malted milk powder (I use Carnation)
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

chocolate chips, for decorating (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together oil and cocoa powder. Use a pastry brush to paint the entire insides of the pans with the mixture. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl to sift together flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and eggs, followed by vanilla, buttermilk, and coffee. Whisk in dry ingredients in three installments, just until combined. Divide batter evenly among the pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 23-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in pans for ten minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and allow to cool to room temperature.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder. Mix in malted milk powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream, and beat on high for two minutes. Add more cream by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached. Fill the layers and frost as desired. Decorate with chocolate chips, if desired.

Frosted cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, and in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note:

If you don’t have buttermilk, put one tablespoon of white vinegar in the bottom of a liquid measuring cup, then pour milk up to the 2 cup mark. Stir and let sit for five minutes, until curdled. Use as instructed in the recipe. Do not use skim or fat free milk.