Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

a.k.a. MaltEaster Cupcakes

What do you get if you pour boiling water down a rabbit hole? (Apart from PITA protesters scowling at you angrily with paint bombs in hand...)


I may have used that one before, but it never gets old. I dust it off every Easter and make myself giggle with the thought of a little bunny popping out of its hole all wet and shaking a little furry fist in the air while yelling obscenities in a chipmunk sounding voice. 

Yeah, I'm a little weird like that.

Okay, so this is clearly not a post on Hot Cross Buns, but it's Easter related anyway!

I'm not sure how long ago Maltesers brought out their MaltEaster Bunnies, but that's another thing I look forward to every year. (Although, they've cleverly done the same with little reindeer at Christmas!) If you haven't had one yet, you have to try them! Especially if you love all things malt. 

The centre is this lovely creamy malted filling with little crunchy bits of the traditional malt honeycomb, which is all enrobed in lovely milk chocolate. I just love them.

When I spotted a bag of MaltEaster Mini Bunnies, my brain rudely yelled out, "CUPCAKES!"

When your brain does that, you listen. I bought a couple bags and hid them away so they'd be safe from the hubby (the rule is, if it's in plain site, it's fair game. So now I have to hide all forms of chocolate...). I don't actually know how I managed to not eat them myself. Pure miracle. Anyway, last weekend rolled in, the weekend before Easter, and I could finally get my cupcake on. 

I knew that I'd be doing a chocolate cupcake with some sort of malt filling, and it would probably be finished off with a chocolate or malt frosting. So, I hit up the usual places for inspiration, but surprisingly, didn't find the usual five million varying recipes for the same thing. The most common recipe to pop up was from Paula Deen. Next was from Mary Berry. (Talk about two opposites!)

Anyway, neither were quite what I was looking for, although in truth, Paula's recipe was somewhere in the area. But, having a look at her recipe, I decided I could quite easily adapt my favourite chocolate sponge recipe and then work out the rest myself.

Creamy, delicious, malted Horlicks goodness

Creamy, delicious, malted Horlicks goodness

My white chocolate malt ganache. Give. Me. A. Spoon. NOW.

My white chocolate malt ganache. Give. Me. A. Spoon. NOW.

Now, hands down, my favourite malt drink is Horlicks. I think it has a much stronger malt flavour compared to Ovaltine, so if you're not in a native Horlicks country, do yourself a favour and try get your hands on it anyway. I believe it's often found in places that stock products from the UK. If all else fails, I'm sure Amazon will do the trick! Anyway, it has an amazing malt flavour, and smell! I love popping open a fresh container of Horlicks and getting a good noseful, it smells creamy and malty and just all round amazing.

So, Horlicks was going to be my go-to malt inclusion. No doubt about it. I knew I could add it to the cupcake batter without any problems, but I wasn't quite sure how to make a filling for it.

My initial thought was to make a ganache, but I got all of two hits on the subject. Thankfully one of the hits, a chef's forum, did actually help me out. From the discussion going on about making a malted filling for truffles, I figured out that I could definitely make a white chocolate malt ganache. Sadly, they didn't do the work for me, there were no recipes or any clues as to how much malt to add, but I'm pretty comfortable with ganache so I just thought I'd wing it. 

Whatever I did, it worked. 

Malt white chocolate ganache is my new "thing". You're probably going to see it pop up in a few recipes from now on.It's just so damned bloody delicious! Being white chocolate, its only flavour is vanilla, so there's nothing standing in the way of the malt flavour. It's a smooth, creamy filling, although slightly sticky (has to be something in the Horlicks), and it turned out to be the perfect filling for my cupcakes.

I went with one of my favourite frostings to finish things off, Swiss meringue. It's creamy and rich without being sickly sweet like simple buttercream, although it does require a little extra effort. But, that effort is worth it!

I've been wanting to try a two-tone frosting for a while, so it was pretty easy to decide on a half malt, half chocolate buttercream swirl. Sadly, I didn't pipe my cupcakes with my usual level of neat. I think my piping bag was a little too full and rather big, so it was a little awkward getting decent control over it. Next time I'll only fill it halfway! Anyway, I think they still look good enough to eat ;)

Now, if you aren't fortunate enough to have MaltEaster bunnies, regular sized or miniature, you can simply finish off your cupcakes with a few chocolate malt balls. Here, we have Maltesers. Back home, we have Whispers. I think the equivalent State side are Whoppers. Whatever they're called, they're the perfect chocolate malt cherry on top! 

Overall, I'd call these cupcakes a success. The chocolate sponge is lovely and moist with a rich chocolate flavour, although, to be honest, the malt is only a background "something" in the sponge itself, which I was a little worried about as I thought it would obliterate any and all malt flavour, but just as you get to the centre where the filling is hiding you're hit by that unmistakable maltiness. It's just incredible. As for the frosting, when I make these again, I'll probably stick to a malt only buttercream, but then, I'm not the biggest chocolate fan so the chocolate in the sponge is enough for me, I want more malt! But, if you're the other way, you could go with an all chocolate frosting. Or, leave the recipe as is, it does make for a pretty swirl!

Now, to be clear, these aren't only for Easter. Malt chocolate cupcakes are good all year round, so don't limit yourself to chocolate egg season, ya hear? Okay, good. Just making sure.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your Easter, and as always, happy baking!


MaltEaster Cupcakes

Makes 24

White Chocolate Malt Ganache Filling
200g 7oz White Chocolate, roughly chopped
150ml 5fl oz Double Cream
75g 2.5oz Malt Powder (Horlicks)


  • Place white chocolate in a medium sized heat proof bowl, set aside
  • Heat double cream in a small saucepan on medium high heat just until it starts to bubble around the edges
  • Remove from heat and pour cream over the chocolate
  • Stir with a whisk or spatula until all of the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth
  • Tip: If the chocolate stops melting, place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water, continue stirring until the heat from the steam has melted all the chocolate. Remove from the bain marie
  • Add the malt powder to the mixture and stir until thoroughly combined
  • Leave at room temperature to cool, about 30mins
  • Cover bowl with clingfilm and chill in the fridge to help solidify the ganache until it's needed to fill the cupcakes
  • Tip: Ganache can be made a couple days ahead of time and kept in the fridge until needed. Ganache will be quite solid though, so leave at room temperature for a couple of hours to allow it to soften slightly. Or else, warm it in the microwave in short 10 second bursts on low power, stirring mixture occasionally, until it softens enough to be easy to spoon or pipe into the cupcakes

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes
225g 8oz Plain Flour
85g 3oz Cocoa Powder
150g 5oz Malt Powder (Horlicks)
1½ tsp 1½ tsp Baking Powder
1½ tsp 1½ tsp Baking Soda
350g 12oz Caster Sugar
1 tsp 1 tsp Salt
3 3 Eggs, lightly beaten
250ml 9fl oz Milk
125ml 4.5fl oz Light Olive / Canola / Rapeseed / Sunflower Oil
2 tsp 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
250ml 9fl oz Hot Water


  • Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted / 350°F / gas 4)
  • Line 2 muffin trays with paper muffin liners, set aside
  • Sift together flour and cocoa powder in a large bowl
  • Add malt powder, baking powder and soda, caster sugar and salt. Whisk together until well combined. Set aside
  • Combine the eggs with the wet ingredients, except the hot water, in a bowl or large jug, and whisk to combine
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and whisk together just until combined
  • Add the hot water and slowly whisk or stir until thoroughly mixed into batter, it will be very liquid at this stage
  • Divide batter among prepared muffin liners, filling each to about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up
  • Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 mins, until cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed with fingertip, or a toothpick comes out clean
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool in muffin tin for about 10-15mins on wire rack, then remove cupcakes from muffin tin and leave to cool completely on wire rack before filling and decorating

Malt & Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 5 Egg Whites
250g 9oz Granulated White Sugar
450g 16oz Unsalted Butter, very soft
½ tsp ½ tsp Salt
75g 2.5oz Malt Powder (Horlicks)
60ml 2fl oz Water or Milk
100g 3.5oz 70% Dark Chocolate, melted and left to cool
1 tsp 1 tsp Vanilla Extract


  • Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl
  • Put the bowl over a pot of simmering water
  • Whisk over heat until all the sugar is dissolved and it resembles marshmallow fluff, about 3 mins
  • Transfer beaten egg whites into a large bowl and beat until the mixture is cool and you have a glossy meringue
  • Tip: To help speed this up, I sit the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water
  • Beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time, making sure it's completely mixed in before adding more
  • Tip: At some point it will look curdled, DON'T WORRY! Once you've added all of the butter, just keep beating and it will come together to form a smooth, creamy buttercream
  • Beat in the salt
  • Divide buttercream into two separate bowls
  • Mix together malt powder and water or milk until to form a smooth paste
  • Add the malt paste to one of the bowls of buttercream, and beat until thoroughly mixed in, set aside
  • Add the cooled melted chocolate and vanilla to the other bowl of buttercream, and beat until thoroughly mixed, set aside


To finish the cupcakes

  • Use an apple corer to remove the centre of each cooled cupcake
  • Fill a piping bag with the white chocolate malt ganache, and fill the centre of each cupcake. You can also spoon the ganache using a teaspoon
  • For the frosting, fill a large piping bag with the malt buttercream, and then fill a separate large piping bag with the chocolate buttercream
  • Fit a third large piping bag with a large piping tip of choice (I used a plain tip), then take both of the buttercream filled piping bags and place them both into the one fitted with the piping tip
  • Carefully squeeze the piping bag at the top until both the malt and chocolate buttercream are coming out of the tip
  • Pipe swirls of two-tone frosting onto each cupcake
  • Finish off each cupcake with a MaltEaster Mini Bunny, or a few malt balls

Cupcake recipe adapted from I Love Cooking's Easy Birthday Cake

Other Tips:

Cupcakes will last 3-4 days kept in an airtight container at room temp

You can keep them longer if you refrigerate them (in an airtight container) but allow to come to room temperature before eating