Malted milk balls are chocolate-coated candies often sold in milk carton packaging to promote their association with flavored milk and malted milkshakes. The flavor is often described as nutty or distinctively hearty, much like a grain cereal. The reason for this unusual flavor is the use of a grain treatment known as malting. Barley grains are allowed to germinate after harvest, which changes the sugar composition of the grain, in the same sense that germinated corn becomes more suitable for distillation. The malted barley grain is carefully dried and ground into a powder for confectionery use.
Other dry ingredients, such as wheat flour and powder milk, are then added to the malted barley powder to form malted milk. This malt powder is commonly added to whole milk or ice cream milkshakes to provide a pleasantly nutty malt flavor. This powder can be purchased as a mix in many grocery stores.
To create the candy known as malted milk balls, the malted milk powder is first combined with a sweetened syrup and formed into round balls. These balls become very crispy but light when fully processed. The finished balls are then enrobed in a waxy form of milk chocolate while traveling on a conveyor belt. The coated candy is then allowed to cool completely before being packaged and shipped. Although the milk carton container is a common sight on grocery store shelves, the balls may also be sold in long plastic sleeves or traditional candy boxes.
Although the traditional chocolate-covered candy has been popular since the late 1930s, there are some new variations on the theme. One variation in the shape of robins' eggs is generally sold during the early spring or Easter season. There are also miniature malted milk balls available. A strawberry malt-flavored milk ball has also been developed for aficionados looking for a different take on the malted milkshake theme.