Precious Powder

An ode to malted milk.

By Katherine Cancila

Published on April 13, 2009

We love milk shakes of all sorts (see Great Shakes), but we're especially ardent devotees of the malted version. Malteds get their toasty, rich flavor from malted milk powder, a combination of malted barley, wheat flour, and whole milk, mixed together and evaporated to a fine dust. There are several brands to choose from, including Carnation and Kitchen Krafts, but we've always preferred Horlicks malted milk powder, which has a wonderfully rounded, mildly sweet taste. The founders of the company that makes it, James and William Horlick, also happened to be the inventors of the ingredient itself. They patented their invention in 1883 in Racine, Wisconsin, where their company was based. In 1890, James took the company to the brothers' native England. Over there, Horlicks powder mixed with hot milk is a popular bedtime treat. Stateside, the malted milk shake has mutated into dozens of delicious forms, some of which are described in the informative book Soda Fountain Luncheonette Drinks and Recipes (J. O. Dahl, 1940) by L. P. De Gouy. A standout from the book is the royal. A blend of vanilla ice cream, simple syrup, ginger ale, and, of course, a spoonful of malted milk powder, it is a majestic malted indeed (click here for a recipe).

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