Yellow Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream

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Yellow Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones
Active Time:
30 mins
Bake Time:
20 mins
Cool Time:
1 hrs 5 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 55 mins

One of the most nostalgic combinations is moist yellow cake with chocolate frosting. This version, which has a touch of malted milk powder in the buttercream, will bring back sweet memories. We're calling it now: our recipe for Yellow Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream will be one that you pass down from generation to generation. And it all starts with a box of yellow cake mix.

This is the best chocolate buttercream. Yes, we said it, and we stand by that statement. Here's why. To start, it's as simple and straightforward as making a standard buttercream—beating butter until it's silky-smooth, then adding in powdered sugar and melted chocolate. A quarter cup of heavy whipping cream keeps this frosting extra soft and spreadable. The malted milk powder brings a note of warmth to the chocolate buttercream frosting; its flavor is reminiscent of a warm mug of hot chocolate.

This recipe makes enough frosting to cover the layer cake completely. If you frost it using the flower design and leave the sides bare, you will have leftover buttercream, which can be stored in the freezer for your next baking project.


  • 1 (15¼-oz.) pkg. yellow cake mix (plus ingredients listed on box for preparing cake)

  • Baking spray with flour

  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1 ½ cups butter, softened

  • 3 cups unsifted powdered sugar

  • cup malted milk powder

  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare yellow cake mix according to package directions. Divide batter evenly among 3 (6-inch) round cake pans coated with baking spray.

  2. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in centers of cakes comes out clean, 20 to 23 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks; cool completely, about 45 minutes.

  3. Microwave semisweet chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl on HIGH until melted, about 90 seconds, stopping to stir every 30 seconds. Let cool 10 minutes.

  4. Beat butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar, malted milk powder, and cream, beating until just combined. Add melted chocolate and vanilla extract; beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. (You will have about 5 cups frosting.)

  5. Spoon frosting into a large piping bag, and snip a ½-inch tip off bag. Create frosting flower petals on top side of 1 cake layer: Starting along outer edge of top of cake layer, pipe a 1-inch circular dollop of frosting onto cake; drag piping bag in toward center of cake while squeezing to create a 1½-inch teardrop shape. Repeat process 7 more times, working around top edge of cake. Drag a small offset spatula lengthwise through center of each frosting teardrop from outer circle toward center of cake, creating a petal-like appearance. (Dip spatula in warm water and wipe dry before dragging through each frosting teardrop.) Repeat process using remaining 2 cake layers. Carefully stack frosted layers on top of each other.

  6. Using offset spatula, smooth the frosting in middle of top cake layer (where petals meet in the center), spreading into a circle to create the center of the flower design. See step-by-step instructions for creating this petal decoration here.

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