When I first heard about Valley Malt, I was intrigued that they were doing something with local grains. Since I can’t drink anymore, I thought my interest would be limited. Soon as Andrea handed me a bag of malted barley, though, I was hooked.
Sniffing, I smelled Grape Nuts. I had been fiddling with recipes for homemade grape nuts; this stuff was sure to make mine real.
“Can I have some?” I asked her, and she gave me a few pounds.
At home I made malted barley flour in a mill I attached to my stand mixer. Using whole wheat pastry flour and this new magic powder, I made some decent fake cereal, but my experimentation didn’t stop there.
The magic crept into my pancakes. How could it not? To the griddle I am devoted. My 2nd grade autobiography reads, My name is Amy Halloran. I am seven years old. I have a new baby brother and I like pancakes.
Malted barley does something fantastic to batters. Take a look at the history of those waffles you can make when you wake up at a motel. Carbon’s Golden Malted Pancake and Waffle Flour delivers those irons and batter; they’ve been adding malt to flour since 1937.
I’ve been adding Andrea and Christian’s barley to my pancakes for nearly 2 years, and when I run out, the cakes suffer. The sugars in the malt are the only sweeteners in my whole grain flour pancakes, and they really help lift a flat cake as high as it can go.
Aside from that structural function, malt is a great flavor, as any fan of Valley Malt knows. What it does to a chocolate cake is terrific. Adds a taste that is almost grassy, definitely grainy and a little other worldly.
As Halloween rolled around, I thought about malt, and went straight to malted milk balls. Reading around on blogs and baking forums, there were two routes to follow: make a meringue type cookie, or a seafoam candy. Since I have minimal candy experience and decades of cookie love, I went for the meringues.
You’ll go for these too. Crunchy on the outside and melty on the inside, these taste like the commercial kind, but mellowed. The centers of the store-bought types are very compressed, and what you can make at home is more of a pillowy soft center. Think of it as relaxed.
Paint these with melted chocolate if you’d like, but these disappear quick as is.
Malted Milk Balls
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt, preferably vanilla salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup barley malt flour (true malt fiends can amp it up to a 1/3)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put egg whites in a bowl and beat until frothy. Add cream of tartar, and keep beating. Add granulated sugar and beat until glossy and stiff.
Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar, salt, cocoa and barley malt in another bowl. When egg whites are stiff, incorporate this mixture into them. The idea is to not beat down the egg whites too much, but to fully blend the ingredients, the egg whites are going to lose a lot of loft.
Put silpat mats or parchment paper on two cookie sheets. Using a teaspoon and a knife, make small, half teaspoon size mounds of batter. Drop the temperature to 250, and bake for 50 minutes.
After 50 minutes, turn off the oven and leave the door open. Leave them in the oven for 1-2 hours.
Amy Halloran stays up nights looking at diagrams of wheat kernels. She’s working on a book about regional grain production. Find more of her thoughts and recipes on grains at From Scratch Club, Culinate, and her own blog.