What to CookChocolate

Your Favorite Malted Chocolate Drink, DIY'd and Good as Ever

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I have my father to thank for so many of my tastes (muted colors, NPR, pie), and Ovaltine is no different: The man loves Ovaltine, as, now, do I. (He even put it in buttermilk once—a pairing he would not, in fact, recommend.) We always had it in the pantry for hot chocolate and chocolate milk, and I have such a specific taste-memory attached to it—powdery in the bottom of a glass, the milk going in cold over top. The spoon clicking against the sides of the glass as I stirred it together. The cold, uncomplicated richness of it.

If you've ever had a chocolate malt ball or a malted milkshake, you know well the extreme pleasures of Ovaltine. Chocolate and malt are an under-appreciated, soda shop-style, PB&J-level, heaven-made match.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Part of Ovaltine's pleasure is its simplicity: It's not fancy cocoa that makes it good, nor a hidden savoriness, nor a breathtaking creaminess. It has none of those things. It's sweet and subtly malty—the love child of milk chocolate and toast. What's not to love about that?

Well, as you get older, you tend to like things that aren't as sweet—and Ovaltine is sweet. Luckily, you can make your own Ovaltine, and when you do, you can make it as sweet as you like.

There are a lot of reasons why Ovaltine is worth DIY-ing: Wish it were maltier? Chocolatier? Spiffier? Now's your chance to add as much malt or chocolate or spiff factor (espresso powder! ground cardamom! cinnamon and cayenne!) as you like. Even further, if you once loved Ovaltine but have since developed a dairy allergy or gone vegan, a DIY version allows you to sub in other varieties of powdered milk (like goat or soy).

Or, if you have a real chocolate milk addiction—or maybe have a crew of small children who put in chocolate milk requests on the daily—you can DIY Ovaltine in bulk. Now we're talking, right?

DIY Ovaltine

DIY Ovaltine

Caroline Lange Caroline Lange
Makes about 12 glasses' worth

Not-Bulk Version

  • 9 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 15 tablespoons malted milk powder
  • Add-ins (like espresso powder, cinnamon, or cardamom) to taste

Bulk Version

  • 1 cup milk powder (whole or nondairy)
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 5 tablespoons barley malt powder (not malted milk powder)
  • Add-ins (like espresso powder, cinnamon, or cardamom) to taste
Go to Recipe
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Tags: Alcohol-Free Drinks, DIY Food, Kids