Let’s talk sweets, guys, because on day 234908234 (okay, like, 4) of this stay-at-home order, ya girl needs some sweets in her life. I mentioned earlier this week that baking is a huge favorite of ours in terms of stay-at-home activities with our kids and, what better recipe than cupcakes? When we were in South Africa in December, we treated Ryan to a true South African treat for the first time – melktert. Melkert, better known as South African milk tart, is a rich, delicate, and wholeheartedly decadent dessert. I’m new to the world of baking after convincing myself for years that I couldn’t, but I decided to try my own spin on this treat in the form of my very own South African meltert cupcake recipe.
Traditionally, meltert has a flaky crust, a rich custard-y center, and a healthy dusting of cinnamon on the top. Because I wanted to transform it into cupcakes, however, my hope was to make something a bit more dense, but definitely reminiscent of the original. Yes, this recipe has a few more steps than your traditional cupcake, but I hope you’ll find it worth your while, whether for dessert or just a midday treat.
South African Meltert Cupcake Recipe
First and foremost, let’s talk ingredients. There are a few steps to making these melktert cupcakes, so I’ll break it down into three sections; cupcakes, custard, and buttercream. Trust me though. All these elements will come together for something truly delicious! Here’s what you’ll need…
For the cupcakes –
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/ tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup of white sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of salted butter softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon (give or take…I go liberal here)
For the custard –
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs beaten lightly
- 1 tsp vanilla
For the buttercream –
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter softened
- 4 cups of powdered sugar
- 1 tsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Cinnamon (to dust on top)
Making Your Melktert Cupcakes
As you can probably guess, this South African melktert cupcake recipe takes place in three stages. I find that it’s easiest to start with the cupcakes, simply because they’ll have the time to cool they’ve baked before you assemble them. So, here’s how you’ll start…
- Mix all your dry cupcake ingredients together. This includes the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and white sugar. I like to give it a gentle mix in the mixer, then I add all my wet ingredients at once because, hey, I’m lazy…or a purist. Take your pick. Either way, add the softened butter, eggs, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract, and allow it to beat on low for about three minutes or until thoroughly mixed. This cupcake batter will seem thick, and it is.
- Take your baking dish and line it with traditional sized cupcake wrappers. Fill each one about 2/3 of the way (or about one big ice cream scoop) with batter. I can usually make about 14 cupcakes with this recipe at this size.
- Bake your cupcakes at 325 F for 15 minutes. They’ll be puffy when you take them out, but they’ll likely collapse slight when you remove them. This is because, like I said, they’re pretty dense. Don’t worry. That’s normal. Set them aside to cool while you get started on the custard.
- To start your custard, combine your milk, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Allow it to heat until you just start to see bubbles around the outside edges of the pan, whisking occasionally to avoid clumping. Once combined and when the bubbles appear, remove the mixture from heat.
- Mix two tbsp of this milk mixture into your eggs using a whisk or in your mixer on low.
- Once combined, take this egg mixture and mix it into the milk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the pan with the combined mixture to medium heat and whisk gently until the custard begins to thicken; this will likely take between three or four minutes.
- Once thickened, remove your custard from heat, mix in the vanilla, and pour it into a bowl, immediately covering it with plastic wrap. You’ll want to make sure the plastic wrap is resting on the custard, itself, to prevent a film on the surface. Let your custard cool for about an hour in the refrigerator.
- Now it’s time to assemble your buttercream! This is the easy part. Add your cup of softened butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla to your mixer and cover it with a towel. This is to prevent the sugar from flying up while it mixes. Turn it on low and let it mix while covered for a minute. Uncover it and allow it to mix thoroughly for another minute.
- This next step will take place once your custard has cooled for an hour. Gently fold the custard into your buttercream, and start your mixer, yet again. Your buttercream will go from a pure white to a kind of pale golden yellow.
- Finally, it’s time to assemble your cupcakes! This step is kind of a pick-your-pleasure kind of thing. You can simple slather your custard buttercream on your cupcakes with a butter knife, or you can pipe them. I usually prefer to do the latter, and I go a step further – filling them, as well. To fill them, you can either use a petite piping tip like this one, or you can core your cupcake (which I do), spoon a bit of the buttercream in, and replace the cupcake top. Then, simply pipe your cupcakes and top with cinnamon to your desired amount!
These were a hit with all of us. From the denseness of the cupcake to the richness of the custard buttercream and the sweet/spicy hint of cinnamon, it’s a veritable flavor explosion! Most of all, there’s a luscious and creamy texture that’s different than your normal cupcake, defying the traditional fluffy pastry texture. Serve it with some coffee or tea, and you’re guaranteed to enjoy!
Tell me, have you ever had melktert? Would you try this recipe?