Malted Chocolate Layer Cake

33 Comments on Malted Chocolate Layer Cake

Moist chocolate cake layered with rich malted chocolate buttercream

One of the questions I’m most often asked about this blog is where I get my love of food and baking from. My first point of reference is almost always my parents – a childhood where helping my Mum out in the kitchen and making my own birthday cakes was the norm, every summer spent in Italy amongst an abundance of incredible produce and a father whose eyes are a whole lot smaller than the stomach which unfortunately reflects his infectious love of food (sorry Dad!).


The cake is topped with a gold-dusted fondant ‘L’ plate

However if I look a little further back into my family history, I’d say that any real baking genes most likely come from my paternal grandmother. I’ve complained before about how my Mum was fairly strict with sweets and puddings when my brother and I were little, but visiting my granny on her apple farm always came with the promise of the sweetest of treats. Her chocolate cake was sticky and delicious, her rock buns legendary and on the savoury side of things, her crispy crusted toad in the hole made with local sausage meat and a smidgen of mustard stirred through the batter was the stuff that dreams are made of.

On the other side of the family, my maternal grandmother was a little less domesticated (sorry Granny – my second apology in one post, this isn’t looking very good). However there are four foodie things I’ll forever associate with her. The first is a toaster that lived in my grandparents’ dining room and popped the toast so high it would flip over the sides and onto the floor if you weren’t there ready and waiting to catch it. Second was her homemade lemon squash, cloudy and thirst-quenching, stored in recycled plastic water bottles and an unforgettable taste from my childhood. Third was ‘wait and see’, the answer she’d always give when we asked about dessert (almost always a crispy meringue nest filled with cream and topped with chopped fruit) and last but not least, the chocolates she’d serve at tea time.


Malted milk & maltesers add an extra element to a basic chocolate cake

Although I’ve never been a big fan of drinking tea, I’m always excited by the things that come with it. Tiny tarlets, little éclairs piped full of perfect crème pâtissière, scones with jam and plenty of cream – tea is really just an excuse to enjoy an additional mini mid-afternoon meal and eat all the treats that you can’t cram into a dessert course after dinner. Not being a baker, my granny would keep it fairly simple, offering round a little white bowl full of chocolate balls for everyone to enjoy with whatever they were drinking.

Coated with milk chocolate these powdery, slightly soft balls had a strong taste of malted milk and melted in your mouth into a mushy mess of malty goodness. I’d never eaten them anywhere else, and although there was something slightly strange about these special powdery granny chocolates, my brother and I would happily eat them up, squabbling over who’d taken more and lamenting the size of the small white bowl in which they came.


There are few things better than malted chocolate buttercream

These balls, in case you already had your suspicions, were of course Maltesers. Just as my other granny keeps a jar of (what must now have matured into some kind of vintage version) Marmite that only my Dad and I have ever been known to eat since she bought it in about 1987, my paternal grandmother must have kept these Maltesers for an inordinately long amount of time, or otherwise stored them somewhere damp extremely damp to account for their soft, slight staleness. And while I wouldn’t advocate allowing your Maltesers to go stale – a lot of the joy is in that initial crunchy crispness before they melt in your mouth – this early childhood memory of soft, malty, milky sweetness inspired me to come up with the recipe below.

Rich, moist chocolate sponge is baked in a square tin then sandwiched together with a light, fluffy chocolate buttercream, made sweet with the addition of malted milk powder before being topped with gold-dusted maltesers. I made this cake for a friend’s hen party at work, hence the giant fondant ‘L’ plate, but this extra layer of icing is absolutely unnecessary and you could easily make the cake without. Baking in a square allows for lovely generous slices and equal ratios of buttercream to sponge, which I like, and is also easy to cut if you’re serving a crowd.


Each slice is rich, slightly squidgy & utterly irresistible

Stored in an airtight container, this malted milk chocolate cake should keep for a couple of days, although the Maltesers round the edge may go a little soggy after sitting in the icing too long. Which might not necessarily be such a bad thing.

Malted Chocolate Layer Cake (adapted from The Birthday Cake Book)

Makes one 20cm square, two tier cake 


For the cake
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp Horlicks (or other malted milk powder)
4 tbsp boiling water
225g unsalted butter, softened
180g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
4 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
225g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream
100g chocolate, chopped
150g unsalted butter
200g icing sugar, sifted
50g malted millk powder (see above)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Maltesers, to decorate


For the cake
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.

Mix together the cocoa powder, malted milk power and boiling water to form a smooth paste. Set aside to cool.

Combine all the ingredients, including the cooled cocoa/malted milk powder paste in a bowl and beat together until just combined. Do not over mix.

Scrape into your prepared tin and bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer emerges clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

For the buttercream
Melt the chocolate gently in a bain marie then set aside to cool. Beat the butter until pale and really fluffy then add the icing sugar, malted milk powder and vanilla. If using a stand mixer, place a tea towel over the top to prevent all the icing sugar escaping in a cloud as you mix.

Beat for five minutes until fluffy then add the cooled chocolate. If the icing isn’t quite as thick as you’d like, continue to beat and it will thicken up.

Slice the cake in half so you have two thin layers. Secure the bottom layer to your plate or serving board with a little buttercream, then slather over the middle. Sandwich the second layer on top and repeat. Allow to firm up slightly in the fridge, but serve the cake at room temperature to allow the flavours to develop.

I added a square made out of white fondant icing and secured the ‘L’ plate (made of fondant icing with a little red food dye) with edible glue before dusting with edible gold powder. Stud some Maltesers round the edge, if you like, and dust with more edible gold dust.

33 RESPONSES TO Malted Chocolate Layer Cake

  1. Oh yum 🙂 I love anything with Horlick and Maltersers hehe but i’m really reluctant cuz if i buy a whole big jar I wont use it all lol

  2. My grandparents had a similar attitude towards food storage. When my dad and I cleared out their kitchen, we found all sorts of ‘vintage’ food in the back of the cupboards…Such lovely memories here and a lovely cake at the end of it!

  3. This cake sounds wonderful as I love malted milk. I’m meant to be making a coffee cake for a family event next week, but am now very tempted to swap for a malted milk cake.

  4. Zita -

    This cake looks gorgeous and cute! 🙂

  5. This looks so moist and luxurious 🙂

    • Daisy – I’ve got a post for malted milk ice cream coming up which could solve your issues of using up that jar of Horlicks… 🙂

      Karen – thank you, my pleasure!

      Kathryn – haha, I think we’ve all experienced grandparents’ ‘vintage’ food…

      Jules – thank you. Malted milk would make a lovely child friendly option – it’s very soothing and sweet.

      Zita – thank you!

      Tina – it’s lovely and moist, and the buttercream adds a lovely richness without being overpowering.

  6. I love malted milk. I wish I could get my hands on the turbo charged stuff we used to put in the chocolate malts in the diner I worked in years ago. It made Horlicks seem so genteel.

    Even if I don’t get round to making this, I am just going to coat my Maltesers with gold in future…

  7. Gold dusted Maltesers, now there’s a thing! One of the cakes that lives on in my memory more than most is the malted chocolate cake I made last year – just delicious. So, I am very sure, this one was special, even more so than mine because you made malted buttercream to go with it. I just have to try that – mmmmm!

  8. Horlicks and maltesers, great idea for a cake, it looks delicious and the gold dusting is a lovely touch. GG

  9. Amy -

    I love seeing malted milk and chocolate! What awesome flavors. And I have no idea where my baking/food love came from honestly… I’m jealous of those like you who have such strong familial ties with tradition and cooking!

  10. Awe….my favourite memory from my grandfather is very cold and very fizzy 7up in a small plastic cup! 🙂 My my, what lovely cakes you produce….you’re a queen! x

    • North South Food – love the sound of turbo charged malted milk! And yes, all Maltesers should be gold dusted… 🙂

      Choclette – there’s something about malted chocolate that is so good…definitely want to try in some more recipes soon.

      Glamorous Glutton – thank you 🙂

      Amy – aw, well you can start traditions in your own family – quite nice to have a clean slate!

      Elaina – it’s funny the little memories we hold onto. My other granny always used to give us Orangina, and her husband would pronounce it with a French accent, even though he wasn’t French. Very funny!

      Janice – squidgy is exactly the right word!

  11. I love the flavours here and made a similar cake sometime ago – I’ll have to make it again as seeing your cake makes me want a slice!

  12. We bought a Malteser tub from Kmart a little while ago. It didnt last long lol. Dangerous. This cake is ideal 🙂

  13. What a scrumptious looking cake and cute post!! I love your stories and the photos are gorgeous too!

  14. I have been missing for too long and must catch up on so many deliciously sweet posts. It is funny how all grandmothers seem to have something expired or stale in their house. I remember once using a shampoo at my Nana’s that left my hear greasy for about 5 more washes… it must have been there since the sixties… I should have been wary about the retro look of the bottle. I saw you already visited my last post, but just in case you didn’t make it all the way down (hehe, I wouldn’t blame you), there is an award waiting for you.

  15. Lisa -

    I love malted anything and everything. I used to drink a vanilla malted shake at least once a week for several summers. Good thing I was active! I still eat Whoppers (US Malted Milk Balls) like they’re going out of style. This cake is surreal to me..and SO beautiful!

  16. This is a fantastic recipe, thanks so much for sharing! =)

    • Baking Addict – definitely time to make it again!

      Nic – Maltesers are so moreish, and so light – the perfect excuse to eat more 🙂

      Jaime – aw, thank you 🙂

      Nuts About Food – completely missed the award, thank you so much!

      Lisa – I’d love to try Whoppers to see how they compare to Maltesers. And that shake sounds yummy!

      My Dear Bakes – my pleasure 🙂

  17. Goodness, this is a gorgeous cake! I love the colour combinations and the buttercream peeking out from the layers. Deeeelightful!

  18. I love your stories (particularly that toaster) and can I tell you how much I LOVE malted milk balls and maltesers? Even stale! Now I have to make a cake like this! It’s perfect!

    • Movita Beaucoup – thank you! The squidgy buttercream is my favourite bit too 🙂

      Jamie – haha, totally agree, even stale Maltesers have a certain charm!

  19. Malted works so well with choclate doesn’t it – it seems to make it even more moist and decadent. I was amazed at how different a simple addition can change a recipe. Love the cake.

  20. Oooo this looks amazing! My mum adores maltesers and that malty flavour, just gorgeous. What a lovely cake 🙂

    • Cake Boule – thank you. I love malt chocolate flavour anything…totally addicted!

      Sasha – thank you 🙂

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  22. Hi! I made this cake last week for a friends bday, My boyfriend said it was the best cake i’d ever made, and i’ve made a lot of cake! thanks for the recipe 🙂

    • Wow, high praise indeed! So pleased you liked it 🙂 x

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  24. Gorgeous looking recipe Kate and lovely to read about your foodie heritage. X

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