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

February 17, 2016

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?

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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.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Caroline, not only is this a terrific resource for those of us who grew up on Ovaltine after school (ok anytime) but it's beautifully written. Thank you for the inspiration!”
— Hannah R.

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?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Hannah Robie
    Hannah Robie
  • HDeffenbaugh
  • Olivia May
    Olivia May
  • beejay45
  • Nancy Mock | Hungry Enough To Eat Six
    Nancy Mock | Hungry Enough To Eat Six
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Hannah R. August 27, 2017
Caroline, not only is this a terrific resource for those of us who grew up on Ovaltine after school (ok anytime) but it's beautifully written. Thank you for the inspiration!
HDeffenbaugh March 9, 2016
I love a chocolate malt milkshake- this article has me craving one!
Olivia M. March 9, 2016
Is the atomic starburst glass vintage or a reproduction? I'd love to have a set of my own. Where did you find it?
Caroline L. March 9, 2016
a reproduction! (i love them, too.) you can buy them here:
Olivia M. March 9, 2016
just ordered! A million thank yous, Caroline!! I never thought I'd score a vintage set, and I knew I'd feel shameful if I ever broke one. Long live reproductions!!!
beejay45 February 20, 2016
Why is the bulk recipe so different from the not bulk? Seems like a totally different kind of animal -- less cocoa instead of more, milk powder when you're adding it to milk...what's the story? Oh, and how do you use the powder, i.e., how much powder in how much/what liquid??? There's a lot missing from this post.
meg March 9, 2016
I'm with you. Bulk would mean to make a lot?
This does not seem to be a lot, in fact, it seems to be less.
very confusing.
Caroline L. March 9, 2016
Hi both—it's much easier (and less expensive) to double or triple or quadruple the mix when using powdered milk and malt powder than when using malted milk powder. so multiply that base "bulk" recipe as many times you want to—apologies if it was unclear!
Nancy M. February 19, 2016
Isn't anyone going to make a decoder ring joke? ;) I haven't had Ovaltine in forever, I excited to try this! Little Orphan Annie is counting on me.
jennifer M. February 18, 2016
If you mix Ovaltine with milk is the dry milk powder necessary?
Sarah E. February 18, 2016
So excited about the potential here!!