Malted Chocolate Cupcakes

Everyone has their favorites.

If you’re this little cutie, its peanut butter and pizza.

If you’re my husband, it’s sports. And me. (obviously).

If you’re Charlie Sheen, it’s winning. Duh.     (sorry, I had to)

If you’re a food writer, you don’t have a favorite because everything is given equal opportunity eating. I’m ok with it.

If you’re my mom, it’s Whoppers. And malted anything.

During our holiday bake-a-thon, Mom made malted chocolate sandwich cookies that were fantastic...but the rich, chocolatey confections didn’t quite embody the whole malt flavor profile. It was kind of a bummer. Mom was sad. Who could blame her? She wanted malt.

So when Kimberly and I started planning her birthday brunch, I knew that a malted dessert must be on the menu. It’s mandatory to make people’s favorite things on their birthdays, didn’t you know? (Good luck to those kind enough to bake for mine. See above.) After I decided on cupcakes as the vehicle for this malted adventure, I spent lots of time researching. Blog after blog. Recipe after recipe. I had to make sure that the recipe I chose would, of course, let the malt shine. Nothing short of authentic Whopper-flavor would suffice.

When I came across Nam's recipe and beautiful photos on The Culinary Chronicles - where she noted that she had altered Martha Stewart’s original recipe to be more malt-like - I knew I had the basis for a winner.

If you like the malt flavor, I beg you to make these immediately. And if you could take it or leave it, I still beg you to make them. I simplified some of the ingredients (for those of you not, in fact, wanting to pay $19.99 for a box of Dutch process cocoa powder), essentially licked the mixer paddle clean (it’s ok, no one will know. especially if you make your cupcakes after your husband/boyfriend/roommate falls asleep on the couch watching March Madness), and proclaimed these the ultimate chocolate malt cupcakes. It’s like a giant Whopper in cake and frosting form. Make them now. Please.

Malted Chocolate Cupcakes
*Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes via The Culinary Chronicles
**Makes 28 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2¼ C all-purpose flour
¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder
½ C granulated sugar
¾ C brown sugar
1½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt
1 C milk
1½ C malted milk powder
1 C vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 C sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ box Whoppers (chocolate covered malt balls)
For the buttercream:
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 C vegetable shortening, at room temperature
½ C malted milk powder
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp instant espresso powder
3 C confectioners’ sugar
½ box Whoppers, for garnish & presentation

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 3 muffin tins with paper or foil liners. I used cute Spring + Easter themed ones from Michael’s. Aren’t they cute?

First, chop up about ½ C of the Whoppers. Set them aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. In a glass measuring cup, mix the milk and malted milk powder until powder is dissolved. I used a glass measuring cup because it saved me from having to wash an extra item (and by wash, I mean load into the dishwasher).

In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the flour mixture, milk mixture and oil until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, until each egg is incorporated. Add the sour cream and vanilla, and beat until just combined. Sample the batter to make sure it’s wonderful. You know you want to. No one’s looking. Fold in the Whoppers (or any kind of chopped up malt balls).

Ladle the batter into your cute baking cups. Fill each one about half way, which should make about 28 cupcakes.

Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes, rotating the baking pans midway through, until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks and let the little bundles of joy cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the malted frosting. Note: I let my cupcakes cool on wire racks overnight and frosted them on the morning of the party. In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add the malted milk powder, espresso powder and cocoa powder. Mix on medium high for 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar ½ cup at a time until all is incorporated. If you want a sweeter frosting, add another cup of confectioners’ sugar, however, I thought 3 was plenty. If your frosting is too stiff, slowly add a splash of milk at a time to thin out. Make sure the frosting is completely combined and fluffy. Go ahead. Sample a spoonful. Or 2.

Now frost ‘em up. I used a pastry bag to get the swirls, but a simple knife will do the trick. Top with Whoppers and place on a nice platter or tray. Sprinkle the rest of the Whoppers around the cupcakes. Prettiness.

My mom was very happy with these birthday confections. She actually proclaimed them to have the best icing she's ever had. So what do you think? Are you a fan of malt? What is your all-time favorite?