Malt vs Shake: What's the Difference?

Blueberry milkshake in a milkshake glass with a straw

The difference between a malt and a shake is that a malt is a milkshake made with malted milk powder. You start with the same base ingredients of a milkshake - ice cream and milk - and then add malted milk powder into the recipe. The resulting flavor is richer, sweeter, and more toasty than a traditional milkshake. The addition of malted milk powder also gives malts a thicker consistency than shakes.

Below, we explore the difference between a malt and a shake, go into the history of the drink, and provide a malted milkshake recipe for your shop.

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What Is a Milkshake?

A milkshake is a frozen dessert made of ice cream and milk blended in a milkshake machine until it reaches that classic creamy consistency. Milkshakes come in a variety of flavors, from traditional options like chocolate and vanilla to more unique choices like strawberry or cookies and cream. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with a burger and fries, a milkshake is a delicious and refreshing way to satisfy your customers' sweet tooth.

What Is a Malt?

Malted milk balls used for malted milkshakes

A malt, or malted milkshake, is similar to a milkshake but also contains malted milk powder. Adding a spoonful of malted milk powder after the ice cream and milk are blended gives the beverage a sweeter and richer taste. This gives the drink a hint of umami to bring out the flavors of the ice cream. It is important to keep in mind that, although malt enhances certain ingredients, like vanilla and chocolate, it does not pair very well with some fruit-flavored ice creams and syrups.

What Is Malted Milk Powder?

Malted milk powder is made from malted barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk. The malt itself is a mixture of sugars that have been extracted from barley and other grains after they have been steeped, germinated, and dried. It is then toasted to caramelize some of the sugars and give it that rich toasted flavor. The final product is the same ingredient that you find in Whoppers Malted Milk Balls.

What Is a Malt Ice Cream?

Malted milk ice cream is ice cream made with milk that has the addition of malted milk powder before going through the churning and freezing process. The barley in the malt gives the milk a slightly earthy and savory flavor that complements the sweetness of the ice cream. This is a more modern twist on the classic dessert that is the malted milkshake.

Malt Milkshake History

Originally, malt sugar was prescribed as a dietary supplement because it was easy to digest. In 1882, William Horlick found a way to make malt into a powder and combined it with evaporated milk to create the signature powder used for malted milk drinks. In 1922, Walgreens employee Ivar “Pop” Coulson decided to add ice cream to malted milk, creating the first-ever malted milkshake. It rose immensely in popularity during Prohibition as customers were forced out of saloons and into ice cream parlors and soda shops.

Malted Milkshake Recipe

Chocolate malt milkshake with pink straw

Check out our chocolate malt recipe below for your ice cream parlor. You can add a personal twist to the recipe by substituting the ice cream or syrup with other flavors and finishing off the delicious drink with your favorite toppings.

Yields: 2

Malt Ingredients

  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 3 Tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon malted milk powder
  • Malt candy (garnish)
  • Whipped cream (garnish)
  • Cherry (garnish)

How to Make a Malt

  1. Add vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, and milk to blending jar.
  2. Mix using a blender or milkshake machine until thick and creamy.
  3. Add malted milk powder.
  4. Blend for a few more seconds so powder is thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Rim inside of cup with chocolate syrup.
  6. Pour malt mixture into glass.
  7. Top off with garnishes, like malt candy, whipped cream, and a cherry.

Whether you're looking to cool off on a hot summer day or take a winter trip to the ice cream parlor, there’s nothing quite as refreshing or nostalgic as a milkshake. Offer your customers a refreshing blast from the past by adding malted milkshakes to your menu.

Posted in: Kitchen & Cooking Tips|Recipes|By Janine Jones
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