Chocolate Malted Cupcakes

I love cupcakes, I really do.  They’re probably my favorite thing to bake.  The endless flavor combinations, the fillings, the different ways they can be decorated, the cuteness factor – and on top of all that, they’re delicious.  What’s not to love?  Actually, I can think of one thing.  The dishes.  Even on a simple recipe you’re looking at a few bowls to put the cupcake batter together, a bowl for the frosting, the cupcake pan itself, some measuring cups and spoons and maybe a decorative tip.  I made a cupcake recipe with lots of components earlier this week (not this one) and I swear, I was cleaning up the dishes from that baking session for the next 12 hours.  Washing dishes and unloading the dishwasher are two of least favorite household chores, so when I’m trying to pick recipes I always consider how many dirty dishes I’ll wind up with when all is said and done.  As a result, I make a lot of one-pot dinners.  When it comes to baking though, especially cupcakes, I’m a little more flexible,  and generally, the results are worth the extra effort :)

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes

Last week I told you about my new obsession with desserts made with malted milk powder and these chocolate malted cupcakes were one of the first things I tried.  They come together really easily and fairly quickly too.  They’re made with oil so there’s no butter to bring to room temperature, which always speeds things up for me.  As a chocolate cupcake, I loved them – they were moist and fluffy with lots of chocolate flavor.  I didn’t think they had quite enough malt flavor though, it was pretty subtle.  I chose to top them with one of my favorite vanilla buttercreams, but next time I might go with a malt frosting (like Tessa did) to really drive home the malt flavor.  Topped with a malted milk ball and chocolate sprinkles, they went off to work with Shane where they were also a big hit.

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream
cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, frosting from Cook’s Illustrated

{Note: I made 1/3 of the cupcake recipe, which yielded 9 cupcakes.  I made 1/2 of the frosting recipe, which was just barely enough to top them.}

Cupcakes
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups malted milk powder
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Malted milk balls and chocolate sprinkles, for garnish

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars, the baking soda and salt together.  Whisk the milk and malt powder in a measuring cup.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil, flour mixture and milk mixture until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice.  Beat in the sour cream and vanilla, mixing just until combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans, filling each well about half full.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pans.  Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:  Stir the heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt together in a small bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time until it is completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl then beat in the heavy cream mixture.  Increase the mixer to medium speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. (The frosting can be made a few days ahead and refrigerated.  When you are ready to use it, let it come to room temperature and then beat briefly.)

Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Frost the cupcakes, then garnish with malted milk balls and chocolate sprinkles, if desired.

Makes 28 cupcakes