A Malted Milk Chocolate Pudding to Drive the Blues Away


Maria Robledo

To try Sally's recipe for rich chocolate pudding with malted milk powder, click here.

"I keep drinking malted milk, trying to drive my blues away..."
—Robert Johnson, Delta Blues guitar legend, 1937

Although malted milk powder has been a staple in my pantry for many years, I didn't actually know what it was until recently. I was making a batch of chocolate malted pudding and suddenly wondered what this good, homely stuff was that I had taken for granted for so long. I stopped midway and Googled it.

Malted milk became an iconic American flavor, in chocolate-malted shakes and malted-milk balls.

While I listened to Robert Johnson sing "Malted Milk" on YouTube (click here to listen while you read), I learned that malt powder was developed by William and James Horlick in Racine, Wisconsin in 1873. It's made from dried milk, wheat flour, and malted barley—barley seeds that are that are soaked, sprouted, dried, and ground, a process that converts their starch into uniquely flavored "malty" sugars. Originally promoted as a drink for invalids and children, malt powder began to appeal to other tastes and needs. Because it is lightweight, non-perishable, and high in calories, Admiral Richard E. Byrd took it on an Antarctic expedition. Eventually, it became a popular drink at soda fountains. After the Horlick brothers had the brilliant idea to mix malt powder with chocolate, it became an iconic American flavor, in chocolate-malted shakes and malted-milk balls.

Years ago, when I started monkeying around with classic chocolate pudding, adding malted milk powder seemed like a perfect embellishment. This revisionist pudding is intensely chocolaty and denser than classic pudding due to the addition of semi-sweet chocolate. It has a surprising undercurrent of malted milk that will definitely drive your blues away.

You can throw malted milk powder into just about anything that is mostly chocolate or vanilla (I'm thinking of a malted milk panna cotta made with heavy cream, malted milk whipped cream, etc). It's also great just sprinkled on top of ice cream.

Recipe: Chocolate Malted Pudding

Presented by

Sally Schneider writes The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog about improvising as a daily practice. Her cookbook The Improvisational Cook is now out in paperback. More

Sally Schneider is the founder of The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog that inspires you to devise, invent, create, make it up as you go along, from design and cooking to cultivating the creative spirit. It's been called a "zeitgeist-perfect website." She is a regular contributor to public radio's The Splendid Table and the author of the best-selling cookbooks The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook, which was recently named one of the best books of the decade by The Guardian. She has won numerous awards, including four James Beard awards, for her books and magazine writing.

Sally has worked as a journalist, editor, stylist, lecturer, restaurant chef, teacher, and small-space consultant, and once wrangled 600 live snails for the photographer Irving Penn. Her varied work has been the laboratory for the themes she writes and lectures about: improvising as an essential operating principle; cultivating resourcefulness and your inner artist; design, style, and food; and anything that is cost-effective, resourceful, and outside the box.

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