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Dec 6, 2008 04:50 PM

Malt question: Horlick's vs. malt extract vs. Carnation

I love chocolate malts, and I always have to ask for EXTRA EXTRA malt in order to get enough of the delicious malt flavor I am looking for. Unfortunately, most places us Carnation Malted Milk powder, which I believe contains at least as much powdered milk as malt. It always seemed a little redundant to me to add milk powder to a milk shake.

I am on a quest to find the strongest pure malt flavor that I can without having to use a "malted milk" product. I found some online homebrew/beer stores that offer powdered malt extract, and I have seen a lot of recommendations for a product called Horlick's. I am wondering if anybody has any experience with or advice about what I should try? Is liquid malt extract more powerfully flavored than powdered? Is malt extract actually what I am looking for? Is Horlick's going to provide the strong flavor I am craving? Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!


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  1. Horlicks is similar to Carnation. The ingredients list starts:
    wheat flour, malted barley, sugar, dried skimmed milk, etc.
    My jar was made in Jamaica under license from the UK company.

    Another malt flavor source is a malt sugar powder from the bulk section of health food store. Ive seen ones with something like 65% maltose sugar.

    1. Horlicks is much much maltier tasting than Carnation. You'll find it in any Asian or Indian market. Try to get the original, unflavored Horlicks. Be aware, too, that it doesn't dissolve easily.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Jim Leff

        I'm off to the Asian market tomorrow in search of Horlick's. I'm wondering about that "malt extract" from the home brew shop, though. Does anybody have any experience with it? Is it actually malty tasting, or is it just a sugar used for the fermentation? Researching it online, it seems that it's just an air dried version of the liquid malt, which I've never come across. I did see one post where somebody said that the liquid malt doesn't provide as much malt flavor as the powders, which seems almost counter-intuitive. I'd think that liquid malt extract would be at least somewhat concentrated.

        1. re: angusb

          I am guessing at bit here: the main malt flavor comes from maltose, a sugar composed to two glucose simple sugars (regular sugar is sucrose, a fructose and a glucose). A major source is sprouted grain, especially barley.

          As kid we would sprout wheat berries (grains), then dry and toast them slightly. The result had a mild malt flavor.

          I suppose variables include how long you let the grains sprout, and how long you roast them. Beer makers are aware of those variations. I don't know if malt flavoring makers play with these things or not.

          I've seen some malt flavored sodas from the Caribbean, but I don't recall what they taste like.

          1. re: paulj

            That's what I'm wondering about. Is the flavor of malt really just the flavor of maltose? If so, it seems that the purest malt flavor would be achieved by simply adding maltose. My totally unsupported hunch, though, is that the flavor I think of as "malt" actually involves more than just maltose--the by-products of malting, barley solids, etc. I'm heading out this morning to try to find some Horlick's, so hopefully that will be the answer for me.

          2. re: angusb

            malt extract at home brew shops is indeed powerfully malty. Bear in mind that there are different grades of the stuff, though. It actually might be a bit much. The Horlicks may be all you need. But if you do want to dive more deeply into the world of malt, for sure, go talk to some homebrewers. In fact, you may want to post a "heads up" to our beer message board, inviting people over there to come join this discussion.

            one more thing: do a web search for "malteasers". Very malty malt balls from britain, easily available mail order (if you have any british or irish specialty shops where you are, you can surely find them there, too)

            1. re: Jim Leff

              Thanks for the tip. I actually just got back from the Homebrew shop and the Indian grocery. I got some Horlick's and several types of malt extract. I found that the malt extract provided an excellent malty flavor, and it also mixed in much more easily than the Horlick's (the Horlick's was not quite as malty, and it lent a distinct grittiness to the chocolate malted). I tried dark, amber, and extra light malt extract, and I was surprised that the maltiest tasting of the lot was the "extra light."

              1. re: angusb

                that's because it's the least roasted, i.e. the least processed. That's the only difference: more roasting means darker color.

                something to look for: maris otter malt. It's the maltiest malt. You can taste it most easily, if you're on the east coast, in brooklyn brewery's pennant ale. but a really good homebrew shop (or mail order) should be able to get you some.

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Thanks! I just ordered some of the maris otter. I look forward to trying it.

                  1. re: angusb

                    Thanks for doing so much "research" on my favorite flavor...will you please follow up when you receive the Maris Otter Malt? I'm extremely interested in your results...thanks again!

        2. Another route to take can be found in the Latin section of your grocery store. Look for Malta in the soda section, yep...malt flavored soda.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chilihead

            This "tip" has been lying in wait for me to pick up on it for 5+ years! I make Egg Creams with Mug brand cream soda, when I can find any in Florida- I may have to try an Egg Cream with Malta! Thanks! By the way, we all know that standard Egg Creams use seltzer, not Mug cream soda. And I follow a standard Jim Leff recipe (with the seltzer...) I downloaded in July of 2000.

          2. this was interesting. I think malt shakes are quite an American thing, but somehow it never occurred that I could make them here. Three things:
            I think Horlicks has a lot of milk powder in it, which kind of puts me off it.
            Maltesers are great, but i should add that they're covered in (good) milk chocolate, and they're like fake honeycomb or something.
            How do you go about making a chocolate/vanilla malt shake? Is it as simple as adding milk to icecream, then malt to taste?

            3 Replies
            1. re: Soop

              While malt shakes are American, many other uses of malt flavoring have died out here. Even in shakes, other flavors have come to dominate. It seems to be much more popular in various corners of the (ex)British empire, as shown by the manufacture and sale of Horlicks.

              1. re: Soop

                Soop, yes, exactly. A malt is a milkshake with some type of malt flavor added. I blend up chocolate ice cream with just a little bit of milk until it gets to the right (thick) consistency, then add the malt and blend quickly again. You can do the same with vanilla ice cream, of course, and many people start with vanilla as a base and then add whatever flavor they want as a syrup or sauce (chocolate) or pieces of fruit (strawberry, peaches, etc.).

                1. re: Soop

                  "Maltesers are great, but i should add that they're covered in (good) milk chocolate, and they're like fake honeycomb or something." Malted milk balls, is the US equivalent, though I don't think you'd call the chocolate coating "good", really. And they are nicely malty, as I recall; it HAS been about forty years since my last one!

                2. I just found at a healthfood store
                  Aunt Pattys (.com) Barley Malt Syrup, 12oz for about $3.
                  It's thick like honey, mildly sweet (maltose is supposed to be 35% as sweet as sucrose), with a slight acid background taste.