I made an absolutely awesome recipe from the blog A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn today (thanks to Four Pounds Flour for the link!). It's for "frozen malted milk cookies," and it's really a cake, not cookies, but no matter cause it tastes amazing.
In order to make the cake, I picked up some malted milk powder (above) for the very first time. Though I (rightfully) love malted milk balls, I'd never really thought about what malted milk powder actually is.
So! What can we learn about it?
Malted milk powder is generally made from a combination of "malted barley, wheat flour, and whole milk, which is evaporated until it forms a powder."
Unless you spend your days brewing beer or whiskey, you might (like me) need a refresher on what exactly malted barley is. Simply, you take your barley, let it sprout, then roast it to dry it out, and you've got yourself some malted barley.
The final product is pretty sweet, and you can turn it into booze, or, in this case, mix it up with some wheat and milk and turn it into a nutritive, sweet powder. This post mentions substituting malted milk powder for sugar in some recipes, but I've never tried it.
Malted milk powder as we know it was invented by James Horlicks, a British pharmacist living in the United States, in 1883 as an improved version of his believed-to-be-healthy infant food.
But the real benefit was that malted milk powder never went bad, and it became popular with explorers winding their way to the North and South Poles in the early 20th-century. The rest of us mostly liked to eat it mixed with ice cream at soda fountains, and I can definitely vouch for its tastiness in this cake.
If you're thinking of making your own malted milk powder at home, this Chowhound post says its doable, but it seems to be one of those things that's just easier to buy at the store.