Malt has an amazing flavour, one that sits at the nexus of sweet and savoury: its aroma simultaneously evokes caramel and green grass.
Outside of brewing, one comes across malt in odd, far-flung corners of the culinary world. It is somewhat common in bread baking: in the form of malt extract and maltodextrin it is sometimes added to bagels and pretzels. It is used a lot in modernist kitchens. The Copenhagen landmark Noma uses maltodextrixin to make an edible substance that looks like topsoil (yum). I’ve never seen the recipe, but I’m confident that Milk Bar in New York uses some form of malt in their famous cereal milk ice cream. And of course there are malted milkshakes, which everyone has heard of though they seem to be less and less common as years go by.
Last week I was brewing some beer, and while I was grinding malt to steep in hot water, I figured I would grind a little extra and steep it in milk.
Basically I pretended that I was making a mini batch of beer on my stove. I used the same malt mixture that I was using for a pale ale (mostly 2-row British malt, with a little crystal and Belgian aromatic malt); ground the grist in my grain mill; brought milk to 164°F, 10°F higher than my mashing temperature of 154°F; added the malt, then held the temperature as best I could. I admit that I didn’t have the patience to do a full ninety-minute mash; it was closer to thirty. Then I poured the mixture through a chinois, and sparged by pouring hot water over the grains. For details on how to source and mash malted barley, see this post on homebrew.
The result was truly inspiring. The milk is strikingly sweet considering it contains no cane sugar. It has the grassy aroma of cold-pressed canola oil, with some alluring toasty notes.
Of course the best way to consume malted milk is to blend it with some quality vanilla ice cream, then drink it through a straw, as shown above. Three parts ice cream to two parts malted milk by weight gives you a tasty though slightly runny milkshake. You will instantly think of the scene in Pulp Fiction when Vincent Vega tries the Five Dollar Shake at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. If you don’t recall this scene, unfortunately his reaction is too vulgar for me to type out, but you can watch it here.
- 1 qt whole milk
- 8.8 oz malted barley, ground as if for brewing. The exact types of malt can be tailored. To produce a simple, approachable malted milk I use an English pale ale blend: (eg. 7 oz 2-row British malt + 0.9 oz British crystal malt + 0.9 oz Belgian aromatic malt).
- 1 qt simmering water
Vocabulary: filtrate – liquid that has passed through a filter. It is the opposite of residue, which is the matter caught by the filter.
- Heat the milk in a pot to 164°F. Add the malt and stir. Cover the pot. The goal is to hold the mixture at 154°F for about an hour.
- Pour the mixture into a chinois. Pour the simmering water over the malt until the filtrate measures 1 qt.
- Chill thoroughly.