I’m sure you’re tired of hearing by now how much I love Halloween. Well, tough noogies I say. I’ve got my costume all ready (Merlotte’s waitress, complete with bloody vampire bites on my neck & requisite t-shirt, black shorts, & black Adidas sneakers), my house is all decorated with orange & purple lights, pumpkins, mums, zombies, faux spider webs, scarecrows and other assorted scary creatures, my jack-o’-lantern is carved (well actually, it will be tonight), and I’m excited. Bring on the monsters! Anyway, today I’m not going to be showing you a cupcake that’s gorey, just gooey. No gimmicky Halloween stuff, just… Ovaltine. Yep. Ovaltine.
Ovaltine always reminds me of vintage, old-fashioned things. Maybe it’s because you don’t often hear of it anymore, maybe it’s because of ‘A Christmas Story’, who knows. Either way, to me, Ovaltine & “malted milk” are really old-timey notions. Notions? I’m even talking old-timey now. This is a recipe I got from Bon Appétit’s September issue. Chocolate malt cake with malt crumbs, chocolate fudge sauce mini-marshmallows). Sounds amazing, right? Yeah that’s what I said too. So I decided to adapt it into a cupcake for Halloween, since it was dark & chocolatey. I omitted the malt crumbs because they just didn’t fit in with a cupcake version of the recipe- since you don’t “layer” a cupcake, there was nowhere to put them! I figured there was enough going on with these as it is, you know?
So here we are. Chocolate-malt cupcakes, filled with malt-fudge sauce, topped with amazing marshmallow Fluff buttercream (& if you like, you can add some charred mini-marshmallows, or just char this frosting itself!), adapted from a recipe by Christina Tosi, Momofuki Milk Bar‘s pastry chef. You can also use Swiss meringue, but I know some people find it tricky. So I included a recipe for an easy and delicious frosting alternative that’s equally as “pile-able” and smooth. Happy Halloween!
Have a fang-tastic Halloween… perhaps I should’ve used those toppers on these?
- 2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate (70% to 72% cacao), chopped
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 ¼ cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons Ovaltine Chocolate Malt mix (Classic Ovaltine can be used also)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place chocolate in a small, microwave safe bowl. Melt in microwave in 15-second intervals until just melted, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
- Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Combine butter, sugar and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium high speed until fluffy and pale, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs; beat on low speed to incorporate, then increase speed to medium high and beat until mixture is fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Scrape down sides of bowl. Add melted chocolate & Ovaltine. Beat until blended, about 1 minute. Add buttermilk, oil, milk and vanilla; beat on medium high speed until pale brown, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed until just blended- about 45 seconds.
- Divide batter amongst muffin tins, filling about halfway full. Bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pans on racks.
- 1 1/3 cups Ovaltine Chocolate Malt mix
- 4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate (70% to 72% cacao), chopped
- 1 teaspoon mild-flavored molasses
- Pinch of coarse Kosher salt
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ¼ cup sugar
- Place first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Combine cream, corn syrup, and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
- Pour cream mixture over chocolate mixture in bowl. Let stand 1 minute.
- Stir until smooth. Whisk until sauce is glossy, about 1 minute.
First you get:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 (7½ ounce) jar Fluff, or similar marshmallow cream
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Then you’re gonna:
- Beat butter in a large bowl with mixer on high speed until creamy. Beat in marshmallow cream. Reduce speed to low, and beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Increase speed to high; beat until fluffy.
- Frost cooled cupcakes.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
- 3 egg whites
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
- Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
- Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
- Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.
PERFECT CUPCAKE FROSTING (courtesy of Our Best Bites)
First, get this:
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk (whole milk is best)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (NOT margarine!)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
And then yer gon’ do this:
- Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat.
- Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan. It should still be liquid-ish though. It’s okay if you have lumps, because we’re gonna strain those out right now. Place the mixture in a mesh strainer and stir with a rubber spatula to push it through.
- You should end up with a nice, smooth mixture. It’s almost like pudding before it’s set.
- Put this mixture in the fridge and let it cool completely, it’s fine if it stays in there long enough to get chilly, you just don’t want it warm at all. When it is chilled, you can move on to the following step.
- It an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You’ll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides. Don’t be scared. It’s going to look like a goopy mess and kind of lumpy and separated.
- But you just wait. It’s gonna blow your mind in a few minutes. Beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes. Yes, that long. I know it seems like forever, but that’s when the magic happens!
- After 7-8 minutes it will have transformed from that sloppy mess into something gorgeous, fluffy, and incredibly light and silky.
I should tell you I halved the cupcake recipe, but not the sauce recipe. I got 18 cupcakes and had PLENTY of sauce, so if you’re planning on making the entire recipe as cupcakes, you might not have to double the sauce.
Now you can use these elements in any way you like. What I did was I cut a hole out of the middle of each cupcake using a round Wilton 2A tip, then filled it with the malt-fudge sauce (when they were completely cooled but when the sauce was still warm and gooey). Then I frosted them high with a fluffy, creamy, shiny marshmallow Fluff frosting that I split into two batches; I colored one batch violet and one green. I had already done the black & orange thing, and the blood red thing, so the only option left to cover this year was zombie skin green and mottled-flesh purple. Of course, to stay truer to the Momofuku version, you can also spoon the sauce over the tops of the cupcakes, then use mini-marshmallows on top and char them or just the frosting using a kitchen torch. That is if you use the marshmallow frosting. Don’t try and char Swiss meringue!!
Can you say DELICIOUS? It’s like eating a cup of Ovaltine with chocolate candy… in cake form. And if you added the marshmallows, it would be like hot chocolate or hot Ovaltine in a cupcake. Perfect for Halloween when everyone indulges in sweets & treats that really are just a bit too decadent. The fudge-malt sauce is to die for, and when it sets, it doesn’t get too hard, so it’s the perfect filling. But like I said, you could even use it as a frosting.
Liners and toppers are Martha Stewart for Michael’s, and the cupcake stand is by Wilton. Happy Haunting! And if you’re still looking for Halloween-themed treats… look no further than here, here and here.