Baked Sunday Mornings: Devil Dogs with Malted Buttercream Filling

I have never eaten a Drake's snack cake of any sort. They were unavailable and unknown in Nebraska where I grew up. So I've never had the experience of eating a Drake's Devil Dog, and I wasn't sure quite what to expect from this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, Devil Dogs with Malted Buttercream Filling.

The chocolate cake batter is easy enough -- you cream together butter and shortening, add dark brown sugar and vanilla, mix in melted chocolate and an egg yolk, and then alternately add the dry ingredients (cocoa, flour, baking soda, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt) and buttermilk. You chill the mixture for ten minutes before you put it in a pastry bag with a large plain tip and pipe it out.

The chilled batter had a nice thick consistency that was easy to pipe. You are supposed to pipe bone shapes that flare out at the ends, and the chocolate cakes pictured in the cookbook are perfect bones that are delightfully whimsical. I tried making bones for my first batch of devil dogs and I made the flares too wide; after baking they didn't resemble bones at all and the cakes ended up being different sizes that were difficult to match up in pairs.

For my second attempt, I decided to forget the flares and just pipe long hotdog bun-like cakes. To make sure that my cakes would end up being the same size, I drew pencil guidelines on the underside of the parchment paper that I used to line my baking pans. The lines were four inches apart, and I piped strips of batter between them to get cakes that were all four inches long.

You bake the cakes for a short period of time in a hot oven: 5-8 minutes at 400 degrees. The recipe warns you not to overbake them and says they are done when they are "just dry to the touch and spring back ever so slightly when gently pressed." After making two batches of these cakes, I personally think that underbaking is a greater hazard than overbaking. I pulled out a couple of pans a bit on the early side, and the if the cakes are underbaked, they can end up being so soft that they won't hold together.

To make the filling, you dissolve malted milk power in boiling water, add milk, cream, and flour, and cook until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. After it's cooled, you incorporate the mixture into some creamed butter and powdered sugar. The recipe says that you should "stream" the cooled milk mixture into the butter and sugar, but mine was far too thick to pour; my thickened milk mixture was the consistency of choux paste. Still, it incorporated smoothly into the butter and sugar to produce a nice and fluffy buttercream.

I put the filling into a pastry bag to fill the devil dogs, which made it a breeze to fill the cakes and keep everything neat and tidy at the same time. In the end, I didn't mind in the slightest that my cakes didn't actually look like bones; I was a big fan of the long skinny shape. And I was an even bigger fan of the way they tasted. The cake was intensely chocolatey and incredibly moist and tender; it is everything you could ask for in a devil's food cake. The filling was creamy and sweet with touch of nuttiness from the malt -- it didn't scream malt flavor, but it was the perfect flavor counterpart to the cake.

The devil dogs were basically elongated whoopie pies, but I liked them far better than the whoopie pies from Baked Explorations. I think that the devil dog has a superior chocolate cake and a much better filling, and the fun shape is an extra bonus. The classic flavors evoke the nostalgia of a childhood snack cake, but these far surpass anything that ever came wrapped in cellophane from the grocery store. Love.

Recipe: "Devil Dogs with Malted Buttercream Filling" from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

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Louise said…
Wow! I'll have to make these real soon. Fifty years ago we walked to junior high school and we'd often buy a pack of Devil Dogs on our way. These look perfect and I'm sure they are much better than my memory. Devil dogs didn't flare out at the ends either.
Unknown said…
I didn't get to these, but yours look fantastic!
Chelly said…
I never heard of a devil dog either! I like the way yours turned out. I prefer the oval shape to the bone shape. Smart idea drawing a template on the back side of your parchment! I do that with macarons! Great job!
Anonymous said…
Devil Dogs are way easier to eat than whoopie pies. Less squish in the oblong shape! Beautiful cakes.
I had never heard of devil dogs before either. I am going to have to try them after I'm over my pumpkin craze!
Your dogs looks good!
Anonymous said…
Your description makes them sound wonderful! Will have to add it to my make up list for later... Great job! :)
Anonymous said…
As is often the case, we had some similar baking experiences with this one! My cooked malt mixture was also really thick-- there was definitely no "streaming" happening, and I was worried at first. But mine came out great as well, except for the tiny bits of malt powder that I can't seem to avoid. Anyway, beautiful job-- I love the elongated shape. They look very elegant and sophisticated that way, and it's nice that this batter is so versatile. I completely agree on the awesome flavor of both cake and frosting! :)