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Milkshakes and malts are both popular soda fountain drinks, and the only distinguishing difference is that malts, also called malteds, include malted milk powder in addition to the typical ingredients. As a result, this drink has a distinctive, slightly sour flavor that some consumers enjoy. The original beverage appears to have been developed in the early 1920s by a soda fountain employee who thought it might make an intriguing addition to shakes. Both beverages can easily be made at home with the assistance of a blender or milkshake machine.
A classic milkshake includes milk and ice cream, blended to a dense, creamy consistency. In many cases, it is flavored with syrup, and fresh or frozen fruit may be added as well. Typically, a shake is also dressed with whipped cream, and a cherry may be placed on top. There are many different formulations, although vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry are quite standard. Given that any flavor of ice cream can technically be used, the possibilities are quite varied.
To make a malt, malted milk powder is added to the ice cream while it is blended. The liquid rehydrates the powder and distributes the flavor throughout as it blends, although some does tend to settle to the bottom. The distinctive flavor does not always pair well with some syrups and ice creams, so discretion is advised when inventing new malt flavors at home. Fruit flavors, in particular, tend to clash with it. People can imagine malted milk balls, a popular candy, paired with a fruit like peaches if they are curious about whether or not particular flavors go together.
The powder is made by combining malted barley with whole milk and wheat flour, which is then dried for convenience. In baking, malted milk with starch converting enzymes is used to make crustier bread doughs with more rise. The enzymes are usually absent in powder that is intended for use as a flavoring.
Malted milk powder is readily available at many markets, usually alongside condensed and dried milk. When stored in a cool dry place, it can last for several years. Typically, one or two spoonfuls are sufficient flavoring for a single milkshake, and one spoonful is advised for people who are experiencing the flavor for the first time. The powder can also be sprinkled on top of drink for extra texture and flavor.