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Recipe  •  5 April 2017


Chocolate, malt and cocoa nib cake

Try your hand at this rather remarkable chocolate cake recipe from Belinda Jeffery.

Funnily enough, despite all the baking I do, I’ve never really been what I think of as a chocolate cake kind of person. Although I’ve baked and written recipes for heaps of chocolate cakes over the years, I find they can be a bit too rich and cloying at times. That said, I make a big exception for this rather remarkable cake. Although it looks as though it will be really dense and rich, the texture is surprisingly light, and it has a deep, rich chocolate flavour. I particularly like the sprinkle of cocoa nibs on top, as they add a lovely texture and crunch. I actually had some honey and macadamia brittle in the freezer the day we photographed this, so I crushed some and sprinkled it over the top too – it was rather fabulous! The malt cream is a lovely accompaniment to this special cake but if you are short of time, it’s still wonderful without it.

Chocolate, malt and cocoa nib cake with malt cream

Serves: 10-12


  • ¾ cup (75 g) good-quality cocoa powder (Lindt, Valhrona or similar)
  • 1¹⁄³ cups (200 g) plain flour
  • ¹⁄³ cup (40 g) malted milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1½ cups (330 g) castor sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk
  • ¹⁄³ cup (80 ml) light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) strong coffee, cooled
  • 1½ tablespoons soft brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons cocoa nibs (see note)


  • ½ cup (125 ml) pure cream
  • ¹⁄³ cup (40 g) malted milk powder
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 90 g good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped (not cooking chocolate, Lindt is perfect)

Malted cream:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) thickened or pure cream
  • ¹⁄³ cup (40 g) malted milk powder


Preheat your oven to 180°C. Butter a 23 cm springform tin and line the base and sides with baking paper, leaving a little overhang all around.

Sift the cocoa powder into a large bowl – you may need to use the back of a spoon to push any lumps through. Tip in the flour, malted milk powder, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and use a balloon whisk to thoroughly mix everything together for 1 minute.

Slide the eggs and egg yolk into a separate bowl, add the castor sugar and thoroughly whisk them together until they’re well combined. Pour in the buttermilk, oil, vanilla and ½ cup (125 ml) coffee and thoroughly whisk everything together.  

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, then steadily pour in the egg mixture, stirring constantly with a spatula or spoon. You want to make sure everything is combined, but at the same time be careful not to overmix it or the cake will become a bit tough. It doesn’t matter if there are a few little lumps in the batter, and don’t worry that it’s quite liquid – it’s meant to be! Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and gently tap the tin on the counter a couple of times to release any large air bubbles.

Bake the cake for about 1 hour or until it springs back when you press it gently in the centre (it feels quite spongy), and a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. It will also have pulled away from the sides of the tin, and may have cracked a bit in the middle.

While the cake is baking, stir together the brown sugar and remaining cooled coffee until the sugar has dissolved, then set the mixture aside.

When the cake is ready, transfer it to a wire rack. Brush the sweetened coffee all over the surface until it is absorbed, then leave the cake to cool completely in the tin. Once it has cooled, sit the rack on top of the tin, and invert the cake onto it.

While the cake cools, make the ganache. To do this, put the cream, malted milk powder, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan. Whisk to dissolve the powder, then bring the mixture to just below the boil. In the meantime, tip the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and leave it for a few minutes to soften and melt, then use a small whisk to thoroughly mix everything together. Once it’s silky smooth, leave it to cool a little.

Sit a large plate under the cake on the rack to catch any drips. Steadily pour the ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Sprinkle the cocoa nibs over the top, then leave the ganache to set – you can speed this up by putting the cake in the fridge.

To serve, carefully transfer the cake to a platter and cut with a hot, sharp knife. (To have nice clean edges on each slice, dip the knife blade in hot water and wipe it dry between each cut.)

The texture of the cake is lightest if it’s served at room temperature; however, in a warm climate it needs to be kept in the fridge, which will make the texture denser but still incredibly delicious. It keeps well for 3–4 days in an airtight container at room temperature, or you can store it in the fridge for up to 1 week.

For the malt cream, pour the cream into a cold bowl, and sprinkle in the malted milk powder. Gently whisk the two together. Pop the bowl in the fridge and leave it for 10 minutes to soften and dissolve the malt powder, then whisk the mixture until it forms lovely soft peaks. (You can make this ahead of time if you like, but don’t whisk it until just before you need it or it will become grainy.) Serve the cream with the cake.


Note: Cocoa nibs are chocolate in its purest form, before anything is added.
They are dried and fermented bits of cacao beans and their texture is rather like that of roasted coffee beans. They have a deep chocolatey flavour which is slightly bitter, but lovely when it’s combined with other forms of chocolate

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