Malted milk was a childhood favorite—specifically if it was made with Horlicks, the classic blend of malted barley and milk powder. As a kid, I didn’t like to drink water and instead would go for any beverage with flavor. (There was no soda in sight in this young rabbit’s home.)
I have consumed many glasses of Horlicks, Ovaltine, and Milo back in those days. Both Ovaltine and Milo are chocolate-malt beverages, but are made differently, so all three have distinct flavor profiles. Horlicks had a unique taste that just clicked with me—I could drink it hot or cold, day and night. It never failed to deliver the satisfaction that I wanted. For those who love malted milk and need something portable, there’s Horlicks candy.
It’s been years since I last had my Horlicks malted-milk. I lost track of it when I first moved to US, but ever since I started this blog, I’ve been thinking of rekindling my taste for it. Yes, there’s Carnation Malted-Milk powder that you can get from supermarkets, but, the intensity is pale in comparison. So I got my jar of Horlicks from Chinatown and made myself a nice cup while contemplating how I might cook with it. I kept going back to baked goods that evoked nostalgia, both in terms of flavor and texture. Milk and cookies seemed to be the right direction, and a chewy texture would bring the right comfort factor.
So, I made Chewy Horlicks Cookies—and they immediately brought me back to childhood. I was probably 12 or so. After my parents and brothers had gone to bed around 10 PM on school nights, I would sometimes make milk tea and sneak into my grandma’s room to share it with her. We would sip it and dunk biscuits while watching movies on TV. I never told my parents and I don’t think she did either. It was our moment.
So grandma, this post is for you, even if we actually never ate these particular cookies. We did have our time together, the late night rendezvous, and the weekend afternoon dim-sum feast.
Chewy Horlicks Cookies
recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
yield: 2 dozen cookies
2-1/4 cups (11-1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Horlicks (malted milk powder), plus 2 tablespoons for rolling
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1-1/2 cups (10-1/2 ounces) sugar , plus 1/3 cup for rolling
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/ 3/4 stick) unsalted butter , melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, Horlicks, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Place 1-1/2 cups sugar and cream cheese in large bowl. Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside. Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain but will smooth out later). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft homogeneous dough forms.
3. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each. Using hands, delicately roll dough into balls. Combine remaining 1/3 cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of Horlicks in a small bowl. Working in batches, roll balls in sugar mixture to coat and evenly space on prepared baking sheet, 12 dough balls per sheet. Using bottom of measuring cup, flatten dough balls to about1-3/4 inches in diameter. Sprinkle tops evenly with remaining sugar mixture (about 2 teaspoons per tray), discarding any remaining sugar.
4. Bake, 1 tray at a time, until edges are set and just beginning to brown, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating tray after 7 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.