I absolutely loved reading Christina Tosi's Milk Bar cookbook. I loved reading about the development of her recipes as well as the process of creation through necessity. I will use much of the information as inspiration for my own experiments in the kitchen.
The book was like a glimpse into the mind of a sugar-fueled pastry savant. I actually read this cookbook from cover to cover. I read the forward and introduction. I read all the head notes, side notes and foot notes. I read through a lot of the recipes too. The book is organized into sections based on what Tosi calls "mother recipes".
Even though the mother recipes are not complicated, the sheer number of different components that can go into making any final completed dessert can be a bit overwhelming.
This chocolate malt cake is a perfect example of using multiple components to create a final product. Making milk crumbs to go into the berry and cream cookies was just one tiny step beyond making cookies without the milk crumbs. Making the oatmeal cookies from scratch to grind for the crack pie crust was just one tiny step beyond using commercial cookies to grind for the crust.
This chocolate malt cake has many tiny steps. Chocolate brownie-like cake layers are soaked with malted chocolate syrup, and then layered with a malt-fudge sauce, milk crumbs and toasted miniature marshmallows to create an over-the-top mess of sweetness. Thank goodness Tosi is fine with store-bought commercial marshmallows otherwise I would've made marshmallows from scratch too.
I made this cake (all the components and the assembly too) in one afternoon which may have contributed to feeling overwhelmed. But many components can be made ahead of time which is what I should have done. I forgot to add the Ovaltine to the milk crumbs so they are a bit pale. My cake layers sunk in the middle and it was hard to cut my finished cake into neat slices. But most of Tosi's desserts are not about the way they look. It's about the taste and a childlike sugar addiction!
This cake was sweet. And chocolaty. And malty. And totally excessive which can be a good or bad thing. I actually felt a little gross after eating a small slice. But I tend to get that way when having too much Ovaltine or other malted milk products. But if you're into this kind of thing (the sweet-chocolaty-malty-excessive part not the feeling gross part) then I suggest trying it out.
Alpineberry note: I actually made this cake using a recipe on the Bon Appetit magazine website before the Milk Bar cookbook was released. So the recipe below varies from the one in the Milk Bar cookbook.
Chocolate Malt Cake
(recipe as published in Bon Appetit not the Milk Bar cookbook)
Bon Appetit notes: Brownie-like cakes are layered with malt-fudge sauce, chocolate-malt crumbs, and charred marshmallows in this Dr. Seuss-like dessert. To help support the sweet structure, the dessert is assembled in a springform pan. Timing note: The assembled cake needs to chill overnight and has to stand at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
* 2/3 cup Milk Crumbs (recipe below)
* 6 tablespoons Ovaltine Chocolate Malt Mix
* 1 1/2 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped
* 1 1/3 cups Ovaltine Chocolate Malt Mix
* 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% to 72% cacao), chopped
* 1 teaspoon mild-flavored (light) molasses
* Pinch of coarse kosher salt
* 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
* 1/2 cup light corn syrup
* 1/4 cup sugar
* Nonstick vegetable oil spray
* 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% to 72% cacao), chopped
* 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 1/4 cups sugar
* 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 3 large eggs
* 3/4 cup buttermilk
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup whole milk
* 3 tablespoons Ovaltine Classic Malt Mix
* 2 cups mini marshmallows
* 3 8-inch cake pans with 1 1/2-inch sides
* 8-inch springform pan
* Kitchen torch
Mix Milk Crumbs and Ovaltine in small bowl. Place white chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave in 15-second intervals just until melted, stirring occasionally. Drizzle chocolate over Milk Crumb mixture; toss to coat.
Place first 4 ingredients in medium bowl; set aside. Combine cream, corn syrup, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour cream mixture over chocolate mixture in bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Whisk until sauce is glossy, about 1 minute. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Cool completely. Cover and chill. Rewarm just until pourable before using.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottom of each pan with parchment round; coat parchment with nonstick spray. Place chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Melt in microwave in 15-second intervals just until melted, stirring occasionally. Set aside. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and coarse salt into medium bowl. Combine butter, sugar, and corn syrup in large bowl of stand mixer fitted with 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. Beat until blended, about 1 minute. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium-high speed until pale brown, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed just until blended, about 45 seconds. Divide batter among pans; smooth tops.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pans on racks.
Stir milk and Ovaltine in small bowl. Invert 1 cake from pan onto flat plate or tart pan bottom; peel off parchment. Place cake, top side down, in 8-inch springform pan. Brush cake with generous 2 1/2 tablespoons Ovaltine-milk mixture. Let Ovaltine-milk mixture soak into cake. Drizzle 1/3 cup malt-fudge sauce over cake; spread evenly over top. Sprinkle 1/2 cup chocolate-malt crumbs over sauce. Drizzle 1/3 cup malt-fudge sauce over crumbs. Scatter 1 cup mini marshmallows over. Using kitchen torch, toast marshmallows. Repeat with second cake layer, Ovaltine-milk mixture, malt-fudge sauce, chocolate-malt crumbs, malt-fudge sauce, and marshmallows. Remove third cake from pan; peel off parchment. Place cake, top side down, atop marshmallows on second cake layer. Brush with remaining Ovaltine-milk mixture (assembled cake will rise well above edge of pan). Cover cake with plastic wrap; chill overnight. Cover and chill fudge sauce.
Run thin knife around sides of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides. Place cake (still on springform pan bottom) on plate. Rewarm sauce just until pourable. Pour over top of cake, allowing sauce to drip over edges. Mound handful of marshmallows in center of cake. Using kitchen torch, toast marshmallows. Sprinkle remaining malt crumbs over cake. Let cake stand at room temperature 3 hours before serving.
Cut cake into wedges and serve.
(Makes about 2 cups)
* 3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
* 1/2 cup all purpose flour
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 275°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Combine milk powder, flour, sugar, cornstarch, and coarse salt in medium bowl; toss to mix evenly. Add butter; stir with fork until clusters form. Spread mixture evenly on prepared sheet. Bake until crumbs are dry and crumbly but still pale, about 10 minutes. Cool Milk Crumbs completely on sheet. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)