I am obsessed with malt. Let me just state that.
When I say malt, don’t start thinking of that milky night-time drink Horlicks. Think of instead; enticing malted ice cream that melts in your mouth like a snowman on a hot day, bold in its indulgent sweetness. Its something I just haven’t been able to resist since discovering it at work about a year ago.
Malt is kind of hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had it before. In things like ice cream, the flavour really shines; notes of honey and caramel. Nothing holds it back or covers it up; the cream carrying its flavour just makes it all that more enjoyable. Whereas when it’s in something like these cupcakes, the malt flavour is quite subtle. If you weren’t told it were a malt sponge, you’d know there was something different in there but probably wouldn’t quite be able to put your finger on it.
I find that the malt here gives the sponge a great soft texture. By using ingredients like yoghurt, milk and oil in this recipe, it’s no wonder the cupcakes pack a lot of moisture. I made these cupcakes one day and used them the next. Surprisingly, they were so much better for it. The malt flavour seemed to develop as it rested and was a lot more noticeable to me.
I loved the punchy bitter ganache paired with the more timid malt cupcake. The cardamom infused in to the ganache makes these a bit more grown up (and to be honest, it was a bit of an excuse to show off my new pestle and mortar.)
A dark ganache a top a cupcake is so much more welcoming to me than a massive pile of dense buttercream. It’s kind of like the elegant, sophisticated member of the frosting world.
Ingredients – Makes 12 cupcakes – recipe adapted from Pastry Affair
- 85g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 180g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 90g plain yoghurt
- 50g vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 195g plain flour
- 45g malt powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
- 65g malt extract
- 180ml milk
- 300ml double cream (200g cream needed after infusion or if you just want plain ganache)
- 200g dark chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces
- 15 cardamom pods
- Malden sea salt (optional garnish)
Pre-heat the oven to 160C and line a 12 piece muffin tray with paper cupcake liners.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a medium bowl (or stand mixer) until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the eggs until combined. In a small bowl, mix together the plain yoghurt, vegetable oil and vanilla. Mix this into your creamed butter.
Combine the flour, malt powder, salt, baking powder and soda. Add this to your batter and incorporate. Slowly fold in the milk. Once this is added, take a few spoonfuls of the cake batter and stir it into the malt extract, then add it back into the original mix and combine.
Portion the cake batter evenly between the 12 cupcake liners. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Once baked, invert from the muffin tray and leave to cool on a cooling rack.
While the cupcakes are baking, you can get started on the ganache.
Place the 300g of cream into a saucepan. Crush the cardamom pods to release the spice. Place the crushed pods into the cream and place over medium heat. When the cream just comes to the boil, remove it from the heat and cover the saucepan with cling film. Leave this aside for 20-30 minutes to let the cardamom flavour infuse into the cream.
Once the cream is infused, strain the mixture out until you have 200ml of cream (you’ll lose a bit during the boiling process.) Place this back over medium heat until it just comes to the boil and have your chocolate ready in a bowl. Once the cream is hot, pour this over the chocolate in three additions, whisking in between each. The hot cream should melt the chocolate and as you whisk the mixture, it should emulsify and become a lovely ganache. Cover the surface with cling film and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to firm up. If, at this point your ganache isn’t firm enough to pipe, leave it for another half hour.
Spoon or pipe the ganache onto the top of the cooled malt cupcakes and garnish with a sprinkling of Malden sea salt. Best eaten the same day they are made, but can be kept for 2 or 3 days.