Malt powder comes in two forms: diastatic and nondiastatic. Diastatic malt contains enzymes that break down starch into sugar; this is the form bakers add to bread dough to help the dough rise and create a good crust. Nondiastatic malt has no active enzymes and is used primarily for flavor, mostly in beverages. It sometimes contains sugar, coloring agents, and other additives.
London pharmacist James Horlick developed ideas for an improved, wheat and malt-based nutritional supplement for infants. Despairing of his opportunities in England, James joined his brother William, who had gone to Racine, Wisconsin, to work at a relative's quarry. In 1873, James and William formed J & W Horlicks to manufacture their brand of infant food in nearby Chicago. Ten years later, they earned a patent for a new formula enhanced with dried milk. The company originally marketed its new product as "Diastoid", but trademarked the name "malted milk" in 1887.
Despite its origins as a health food for infants and invalids, malted milk found unexpected markets. Explorers appreciated its lightweight, nonperishable, nourishing qualities, and took malted milk on treks worldwide. William Horlick became a patron of Antarctic exploration, and Admiral Richard E. Byrd named a mountain range in Antarctica after him. Back at home, people began drinking Horlick's new beverage for enjoyment. James Horlick returned to England to import his American-made product back home and was eventually created a baronet. Malted milk became a standard offering at soda fountains, and found greater popularity when mixed with ice cream in a "malt". "Malt shops" owe their very name to the Horlick brothers.
There is a disagreement as to whether malted milk drinks assist sleep; no scientific studies exist which either support or reject this claim.
- Malted milk biscuits
- Malted milkshakes
- Malted hot drinks, such as Horlicks
- Malted milk balls: malted milk is used in the popular candy confections Whoppers (manufactured by Hershey Co.), Mighty Malts (manufactured by Necco), and Maltesers (manufactured by Mars, Inc).
- Ice cream: malted milk is used as a topping for some types of sundaes. Heston Blumenthal has created a malted milk and marmalade flavour ice cream for Waitrose.
- Malted milk can be an ingredient in homemade bagels.
- Mariusz Pudzianowski cited malted milk as being the key supplement in his successful strongman career.
- Pancakes (malted milk is used in place of sugar in some recipes)