Malted Milk Easter Egg Cake by Chelsea Zwieg

Don't tell Peeps, but my actual favorite Easter candy always has been and always will be malt eggs. Is anyone surprised?? Ya girl loves malt powder in a borderline unhealthy way so there's really no contest when it comes to what's winning my heart in the Easter candy world. And then I saw this tutorial on making a speckled egg cake and it was really all over from there. 

I used my usual chocolate cake recipe for the layers and then soaked them with malted milk before assembling the cake. This keeps them extra moist (in case you want to make this for Easter but don't want to spend your entire Easter morning making a cake, you're good for a couple days with this one) and also makes things extra malty. Then I made a vanilla malt buttercream and dyed it the most Eastery shade of blue I could manage. And then of course the speckles! I just did brown speckles (with vanilla and cocoa powder) but you could also do mult-colored speckles (using clear alcohol and food dye) if you want to go that route. Either way, there is really nothing more fun than splattering paint onto a cake. Also, I'm telling you right now, it will get everywhere. Friend to friend, it's on your face. And you wall and your floor. Am I really selling this process? Really, don't worry. It's super easy to clean up (just use a wet washcloth and don't wait so long it dries) and it makes the most fun Easter cake you ever will make. I also crushed up some extra eggs and put them in the layers and saved some whole ones for on top. And oh what a shame, I had like 90 left over that I needed to eat. Rough life. 

I hope you all have a fantastic Easter! Eat lots of candy, cake and some other food too! Or just candy and cake, I don't judge.  

Malted Milk Easter Egg Cake

Makes a 3 layer 6" cake 

| Ingredients

For the cake: 

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla 
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee

For the malt buttercream: 

  • 1/2 cup egg whites (3-4 large eggs)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk + 2 tbsp. malted milk powder (divided) 
  • food color of your choice (I used about 4 drops of Americolor blue gel) 
  • 10-15 malted milk eggs

| Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 3 6" cake pans. 

Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sifting is super important when making chocolate cake to get rid of any cocoa powder or flour lumps. Let the mixer run on low to combine the ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scrape the bowl and paddle well and add the hot coffee. Mix on low, scraping as needed, until combined and smooth. 

Divide the batter evenly among the three cake pans. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

For the frosting, whisk the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, whisking often, until the mixture reaches 155 degrees on a candy thermometer. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high for 8-10 minutes until the egg whites are medium-stiff peaks and have cooled to room temperature. Swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment. With the mixer running on low, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, letting it incorporate after each addition. The butter needs to be room temperature to work in properly. Once the butter has been added add the vanilla and salt. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy and smooth, at least 3 minutes. 

In a bowl or glass measuring cup, stir the milk and malt powder together until the malt powder is dissolved. Add a 1/4 cup of the malted milk to the frosting, a splash at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat the frosting for 1-2 minutes until the air bubbles are beaten out and the frosting is smooth. Add any desired food coloring. 

Trim the cooled cake layers so that they are level. Brush the layers with the remaining 1/4 cup of malted milk and let it soak in completely before assembling the cake. Crush the malted milk eggs into small pieces (reserving a few to garnish the cake). Fill and stack the layers with the buttercream and sprinkle the crushed malted milk eggs in between each layer. Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining buttercream. 

If you want to splatter paint the cake (and trust me, you do. it's so much fun!), frost the cake in a smooth layer of buttercream on the sides and top. Chill the cake until the frosting is firm. To make your paint, mix 1 tbsp. cocoa powder and 1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. vanilla extract (you can also use clear alcohol like vodka). Dip a clean paintbrush in the paint gently flick the bristles to splatter the cake. Don't get too close to the cake or the splatters will be too big. I practiced a few times on a piece of parchment paper to get the right amount of splatter before taking it to my cake. Also, paint will splatter literally everywhere, just a warning. If you wipe it up right after with a wet washcloth, it cleans up super easily. 

Garnish the cake with the remaining malted milk eggs and go on your merry Easter egg eating way. 

Strawberry and Mascarpone Tart with Pistachio Shortbread Crust by Chelsea Zwieg

It's almost Easter! Which means one thing: Easter desserts! Easter candy, Easter pies, Easter tarts...get at me. Nothing gets me more excited than a little stroll down the Easter candy aisle because really, is there anything happier than a whole rainbow of adorable peeps? Or peep oreos? Or bags and bags of speckled egg malted milk balls?? (which, by the way, I shoved in a cake that I will be posting next week. GET READY.) For the record, I did try peep oreos and while they sound like they were created to bring straight joy into my life, they are actually disgusting and also I read this article and was obviously a little hesitant to give them a second try. But hot pink oreos aside, I am all about the Easter sweets. 

The best thing about Easter being later this year than last is that there is actually good fruit starting to show up in the grocery store. Strawberries that actually taste like something and aren't half white? Sign me up! Strawberries with cream is one of my very favorite things and while I normally keep it super classy by throwing some strawbs in a bowl and dumping a bunch of heavy cream on top, I decided to turn it into a tart because maybe Easter guests wouldn't be super into my normal method? And also, tarts are prettier than strawberries floating in cream. So there's that. This tart has a pistachio shortbread crust (my favorite tart crust with some ground pistachios subbed for flour) and then gets filled with a brown sugar mascarpone cream. Then you can get all fancy with arranging your sliced strawberries however you're feeling. And finally get all salt bae with some chopped pistachios to finish it off. Tarts like this are my favorite because they are literally impossible to mess up, require like 10 minutes of hands on time, but then the miracle that is fresh fruit makes them look like a work of art. Especially after an entire winter, fresh fruit is enough to bring a tear to anyone's eye. Am I right? 

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone! Talk to you (about cake!) next week! 

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Strawberry and Mascarpone Tart with Pistachio Shortbread Crust 

| Ingredients

Serves 8-10 

For the crust: 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted pistachios
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 tbsp. cold water

For the filing: 

  • 1 lb. mascarpone 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • sliced strawberries and chopped pistachios, for topping

| Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375. Butter and flour a 9 inch tart pan. Set aside. 
  • In the bowl of a food processor, pulse pistachios until they are finely ground. You want them to similar to the texture of flour, but if they are slightly more coarse, that's ok. Add the flour, powdered sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with no large chunks of butter remaining. Add the water and pulse until the dough begins to clump together. If it doesn't stick together, add more water by the teaspoonful until it begins to come together. 
  • Press dough into the prepared tart pan and freeze 25-30 minutes. This will keep the dough from shrinking up when it is in the oven. 
  • Remove the dough from the freezer, pierce all over with a fork (which will keep it from puffing up in the oven) and bake 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow crust to cool completely. 
  • To make the filling, add the mascarpone, cream, brown sugar and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low to combine, then increase the mixer speed to medium and whip until it forms stiff peaks. Taste and add more sugar, if desired. The filling is not super sweet, which I like, but if you prefer a sweeter filling you might want closer to 3/4 cup sugar. You can also add powdered sugar to make it sweeter. Just taste as you go. 
  • Spread the filling into the cooled tart shell, using a spatula to smooth it out to the edges. 
  • Arrange sliced strawberries on top and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Slice and serve. Store tart, covered, in the refrigerator.