It’s winter! Sure, not technically. Technically, winter is still a week away. But here in Chicago, it’s winter. You know how I can tell? Our Christmas tree is up, it’s completely dark around 4:30, and my boots are covered with a chalky white powder up to my ankle from the snow and the salt. Plus, we’ve already had a winter storm warning, along with all the snow we could hope for.
On Saturday night, Alex and I trudged to the grocery just a few blocks away, and grabbed all the fixins for a steak, mashed potato, and broccoli dinner, along with cheap red wine and mulling spices. As the snow fell, we were all tucked away inside, filling ourselves to the gills, basking in the light of our Christmas tree, and watching the last few episodes of Search Party on TBS. Which, HELLO, if you have not watched this show, go watch it right now. I don’t know what to tell you. The premise is quite simple, but the ending literally left us with our mouths hanging open.
Before the snow came, we were busy celebrating my mother-in-law Anne’s birthday. On Friday, we had dinner at the Italian Village, which is one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the city, and a place that Anne misses, since she moved from Chicago to Washington state. She has happy memories of going there before going to a show in the theater district. On Saturday afternoon, we had a little brunch for her at our place, complete with a malted milk chocolate cake.
I wanted to try to make a malted milk chocolate cake for a while and, when I mentioned it to Alex a while back, he said, “You know, my mom loves chocolate malts.” Perfect. I hope she didn’t mind me using her birthday cake as a recipe testing experiment. We all had exactly one slice, then champagne, then we were all ready for a nap. (I actually did sneak away and take a nap.)
I have a couple of new cupcake tins to break in, and I thought, you know what’s better than one big malted milk chocolate cake? Well, it’s 20-odd little malted milk chocolate cakes. Plus, I feel like cupcakes are really “over” right now, but I love them all the same. Are we really not doing cupcakes anymore? Guys, that’s nuts.
Malted Milk Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes between 20 and 24 cupcakes
Ingredients for Cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup malted milk powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp espresso powder, optional
2 large eggs
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup boiling water
Ingredients for Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup malted milk powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp espresso powder, optional
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup, or slightly less, heavy whipping cream, lukewarm, optional
Instructions for Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Fill two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, malted milk powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
In a medium bowl, mix well the eggs and egg white, vanilla, buttermilk, vegetable oil.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix together until fully combined.
Quickly whisk in the boiling water.
Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 of the way full.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness around the 14 minute mark.
Remove cupcakes to a wire cooling rack.
While the cupcakes are cooling (for at least an hour), beat together the softened butter, cocoa powder, malted milk powder, vanilla, espresso powder, and powdered sugar.
Optional: I don’t like how thick regular buttercream is, so I often add a bit of heavy cream to my frosting to thin it out (that seems like a contradiction). If you decide to do the same, add in the lukewarm heavy cream with all of the other frosting ingredients and beat together.
Frost each cupcake and enjoy!
They’re malty, they’re chocolatey, and they’re supah, supah moist. I’m very picky about my cupcakes. I don’t like them huge and dense. And, I’ll say, though not proudly, that I really loved the little, super soft cupcakes that my mom used to make from boxes. That’s what these remind me of! Except you made them from scratch, Martha Stewart, and there are no questionable ingredients hiding from you. Go give them a try! Oh, and if you see my mother-in-law, be sure to wish her a happy belated birthday.