The world of malted milk balls contains much more than just Whoppers. If those crispy chocolate-coated bites are your go-to movie theater snack, you’ll be delighted to learn that the history of malted milk balls is just as rich as these delectable treats themselves. So, where did this crunchy sweet candy come from, and what gives it its unique flavor and texture? Keep reading to learn all about malt balls, including how to make your own!
What are malted milk balls?
Malted milk balls are the delectable result of a chemical process that might remind you of being back in science class. This process, called malting, occurs when barley grains are allowed to germinate, changing the sugar composition of the grain and resulting in a unique but sweet flavor. The grain is dried and ground, then added to wheat flour and powdered milk to form malt powder. Confectioners mix this powder with a sweet syrup and cover them in chocolate to create the light, crunchy malted milk balls we know and love.
Fun facts about malted milk balls
According to candy historians, malted milk balls became popular around the 1930s and have not changed much since then. But there’s so much more to know! Here are a few more interesting facts about this crunchy sweet candy:
- Though the first candies using malt powder were introduced in the 1930s, malt powder was invented in the 1880s and originally intended as a health food ingredient.
- The first mass market malted milk balls were Mars’ Malteasers, invented and sold in England.
- The main American brand of malt balls, Whoppers, were called Giants when first introduced in 1939.
- Malted milk balls are often sold in milk carton packages, as in the case of Whoppers, because one of the central ingredients is powdered milk.
- Malt balls were once popularly sold in cellophane packages called “fivesomes.”
- Not all malt balls are spherical! Hershey’s and other brands sell egg-shaped malt balls for Easter.
- Not all malt balls are chocolate-covered, either. You can get malt balls coated with strawberry, peanut butter, and more.
Malted milk balls recipes
For the adventurous home confectioner, there are plenty of malted milk ball recipes to help you try your hand at this retro treat. Malt powder is readily available at many grocery stores, so you shouldn’t have a hard time gathering ingredients. In fact, some recipes call for no more than three ingredients! These include:
- Malted milk powder or malted barley extract
- White chocolate chips
- Milk chocolate, melted
More ingredients may be called for if you are creating malt balls with special flavors, such as strawberry or peanut butter.
Check out some recipes below to find one you like best. Make your own malted milk balls as holiday gifts, a fun activity for kids on school breaks, or simply a delicious DIY treat!
- Little House Big Alaska provides a simple recipe for classic chocolate-covered malted milk balls
- Desire Recipes recommends using crushed meringue cookies to create the light, crunchy filling
- Food.com has a copycat Whopper recipe perfect for your next movie night
A Candy Club twist
If you can’t get enough of malted milk balls, you’ll love Candy Club’s selection. We offer both classic flavors and unique variations that put a sweet twist on that familiar crunchy flavor. Grab a cup of Pumpkin Spice Malt Balls for a bit of seasonal fun, or Triple-Dipped Malt Balls that take chocolate to the next level. And if you want something really different, try our lemon-poppyseed Artist’s Garden at Vetheuil Malt Balls, inspired by the beautiful paintings of Monet. Even candy can be a work of art!