The Little Epicurean

May 01 2013

Vanilla Malted Cookies

vanilla malt cookies

When is someone going to invent a time machine like the one in Back to the Future?  I’d really like to visit the 1950s.  I want to wear poodle skirts with cute cardigans, put my hair in a ponytail tied together with a ribbon, and sit at the counter of a soda fountain with a milkshake in hand.

I tend to be one that romanticizes the past.  It’s hard to look back at certain times in history and not crave the simplicity of earlier times.  I know that the 1950s was not as perfect as it is depicted in popular shows like I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaver.  In reality, the United States was on the verge of big change with the civil rights movements that would categorize much of the 60s.  However, this vanilla malted cookie reminds me of the youthful and innocent side of the 50s.

piped cookie batter

I am pretty conservative when it comes to clothing, lifestyle, and general demeanor.  Maybe this is why I associate with the values and morals of the 1950s.  I welcome a time when women were ladies; when women’s fashion was simple, classic, and elegant.  Although I don’t approve of the strict gender roles that kept men in the workplace and women at home, I appreciate the importance that was placed on family.

Maybe life then would be viewed as boring and mundane by today’s standards.  But sometimes I feel like we need a little simplicity and predictability.  These vanilla malted cookies remind me of that.  They take me back to a place where soda fountains, drive-in theaters, and milkmen still thrived.

vanilla malted cookies

These are very simple, no fuss cookies.  It may look plain and boring on the outside, but its one tasty and addicting cookie.  The use of cream cheese in the batter gives the cookie a full and rounded flavor.  Plus the additional of malt powder gives this cookie the dessert equivalent of the umami taste in savory foods.  You can’t put your finger on it, but it leaves you craving more.

I totally love these new milk jars I recently purchased, along with the super cute paper straws.  Are there any parts of the United States that still have milkmen that make their early morning deliveries of milk, eggs and other dairy products?  I would definitely sign up for that service.  Milk tastes better when stored in glass containers.  And of course, milk is best served with a handful of cookies.

cookies with milk

Print Recipe

Vanilla Malted Cookies

Yield: makes about 3 dozen cookies


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup malted milk powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 large egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, milk powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add in sugar. Mix until combined. Add vanilla paste and egg. Mix on medium speed until combined. Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time on low speed.
  3. Transfer batter to a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe rosettes (or strips, circles) onto parchment lined baking sheets. Space cookies at least 1-inch apart. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating sheet midway through baking. Bake until edges are lightly golden brown. Let cool in tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

*I used large star tip #826

44 Responses to “Vanilla Malted Cookies”

  1. May 1, 2013
    1:29 pm
    Xander says...

    Wow. I love the picture with the milk; I also love malted milk! Definitely trying these out. Thanks for the post!

    • Maryanne replied...

      Thanks! Please let me know how they turn out!

  2. May 2, 2013
    4:28 am

    Your cookies look so delicious, I love the shape of them! Gorgeous pictures with the milk and cookies too! I would love to go back in time and visit the 1950s as well :)

    • Maryanne replied...

      Thanks, Rosie! The book I am currently reading deals with time travel and I’m totally obsessed right now.

  3. May 2, 2013
    6:23 am
    Sarah says...

    I can’t wait to try making these! I’m partial to strawberry malts though…maybe I’ll sandwich them with strawberry cream.

    • Maryanne replied...

      That’s a great idea, Sarah!

  4. May 2, 2013
    7:19 am

    These look so good! I’m with you on the simplicity of the 50s – how is there no time machine yet??

    • Maryanne replied...

      Thanks, Hannah! I have no idea?! Let’s make one!

  5. May 2, 2013
    7:35 am

    These cookies are absolutely beautiful! You have great piping skills – I can’t pipe to save my life. :)

    • Maryanne replied...

      Thank you so much, Patricia! Piping just comes with a lot of practice :)

  6. May 2, 2013
    7:56 am
    Annie says...

    They look beautiful! If only I weren’t in the middle of my finals I would make them right now!

    • Maryanne replied...

      Thanks, Annie! Good luck with finals!

  7. May 2, 2013
    9:56 am
    Anjo Angela Lim says...

    Your recipe is perfect. I always scan the recipes that interest me and find ways to modify them for the better but…no. Yours truly hits it home. The only thing I would do, more an addition than a modification, is fill two cookies with whipped dark chocolate ganache. Ohhh yeah. Bookmarked! <3

    • Maryanne replied...

      Thanks, Anjo! I think adding the chocolate would make these cookies heavenly.

  8. May 2, 2013
    10:22 am
    Rben says...

    Love the cookies, but as a historian, I must point out that the 1950’s idyllic lifestyle was existent for a minute portion of the population. The rest were too busy fighting for their lives in Korea, fighting for their homes and rights in the United States, hiding from abusive spouses and gender opression and building bomb shelters and practising bomb drills in case of nuclear war.

    The cookies are grand. The 1950’s was not.

    • Maryanne replied...

      I agree. Every moment in history has its good and bad.

  9. May 2, 2013
    11:37 am
    Donna says...

    Where I live, two local dairies make home deliveries. In glass bottles.

    Oh, and I love the swirl on the cookies!

    • Maryanne replied...

      That is so awesome! I may have to move there one day.

  10. May 2, 2013
    12:46 pm

    Wonderful looking cookies: so airy and light! Love the swirls. Pinned!

  11. May 2, 2013
    1:03 pm
    Karen says...

    I was born in 1960 here in Canada, and I’m sure that for my mom the 50’s were the best time in her life. I know she was so happy from the photos I have of her, she had everything going for her and she looked so happy. I love the music of that time, and imagine her listening to that same music in her kitchen when she baked as I do now sometimes. I can’t wait to make these cookies, but I’ve tried piping shortbread before and it was incredibly hard to squeeze dough through the large star tip. Doe the butter and cream cheese have to be really softened (almost liquid), or do you add a little liquid if it’s too hard? Thanks for these, and the memories.

    • Maryanne replied...

      My dad also grew up in the 50s and he remembers that time fondly. I LOVE the music and dance/sing along while I’m baking.

      I left the butter and cream cheese out at room temperature for a couple of hours before mixing. The butter doesn’t need to be melted or liquid, just as long as it is soft to the touch. The dough wasn’t very hard, it was more like a firm buttercream. Squeezing the pastry bag can strain your hand and wrists. I suggest making the pastry bag work for you. Tie a rubber band around the end of the filled pastry bag. Instead of squeeze the bag with your hands, twist the bag until there is enough pressure for the dough to come out on its own. If the dough is still too tough or hard to pipe, try warming by placing the palms of your hands on both sides of the bag and letting your body heat soften the dough. I haven’t tried with this recipe, but a cookie press might also work.

  12. May 2, 2013
    1:52 pm

    I am with you on the time machine to the 50s! I have always loved the fashion of the 50s along with other aspects. These cookies look amazing, and I love your pictures! The milk jar is adorable.

    • Maryanne replied...

      Thanks, Jenn! I love the cakes on your blog!

  13. May 4, 2013
    7:06 am
    Shelly says...

    I just made these, I did not get to eat a single cookie. I made the mistake of going out to talk to a neighbor and left them unattended in the kitchen. The sleepover crowd declared them AWESOME! I have to say thank you for this recipe, I was staring down a large jar of malted milk powder, not wanting to throw it away and not wanting to ship it back to the states when we move in a few weeks. If I make a few more batches the jar will be used up and I might even get to taste one.

    • Maryanne replied...

      That is wonderful to hear! I’m so glad everyone enjoyed them!

  14. June 16, 2013
    6:38 pm
    Julia says...

    I just made these tonight and they are incredible. I am obsessed wtih the flavor of malt but all baked goods I’ve made with it have never had a detectable malt flavor, until these! I worked from my Martha Stewart Cookies book but used your adaptations and I’m so glad I did!

    • Maryanne replied...

      Malt is delicious! So happy to hear you liked the cookies :)

  15. June 22, 2014
    4:58 pm
    jillian says...

    I will be making malt flavoring. I remember the 50’s with fondness..i was a child in those years. We lived a nice life…and sugar was not bad for you then! ha ha ha…wondering where to find these cute little milk bottles..everyday after recess we had milk in similar bottles housed in aluminum milk crates.

    • Maryanne Cabrera replied...

      Hi Jullian! I’d love to live in a time when sugar was not bad for you! I actually found these milk bottles at a local craft store. I think Anthropologie sells a similar one online.

  16. September 9, 2014
    12:01 pm
    Sara says...

    How big should you pipe out these cookies?

    • Maryanne Cabrera replied...

      Pipe the cookies about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. They will spread a little bit in the oven.

  17. October 5, 2014
    12:43 am
    Sara says...

    Love the cookies! And your comments. Although I love the simple lifestyle of the past, I appreciate that I was born in the 80’s. I feel like we are the last generation to have had anything close to a simple upbringing.

    Def need to try these cookies!

  18. July 7, 2016
    10:46 am
    Jane says...

    I love the way these cookies look, and I didn’t have trouble with the pipping, even though it was the first time I tried. However, my cookies didn’t hold their shape as well as the ones you pictured. The ridges and valleys from the piping blurred together more than yours did. I sifted the flour before measuring it (old 1950s baking habit), so possibly that contributed to this problem by slightly reducing the amount of flour. What do you think? Did anyone else have this problem?

    • Maryanne Cabrera replied...

      Hi Jane. Yes, sifting the flour does change the texture of the finished product. You’ll end up with a different amount if you sift the flour before measuring.

  19. December 1, 2016
    4:44 pm
    Eileen O'Leary says...

    These cookies look great! However, I have a few questions, if I may ask. Does most grocery stores carry malted milk powder and vanilla bean paste? Or do you have to buy them at a gourmet shop, or something? Also, I don’t have a piping bag, so I was wondering if they would work in a cookie press? I just bought one, again., with all the stainless steel shapes to go with it Cookie baking season is upon us, so I hope to see a reply soon. Thanks a bunch!!!

    • Maryanne Cabrera replied...

      Hi! Yes, grocery stores should carry malted milk. It’s in the same aisle instant hot chocolate powder. Look for Nestle Carnation Malted Milk. Vanilla bean paste may be a little more difficult to find at your regular grocery store. It’s available at speciality stores like Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods. It’s also widely available on and I haven’t tested this recipe in a cookie press, but it should work. Hope that helps. Happy baking!

  20. December 14, 2016
    4:47 pm
    Jessica M. says...

    I don’t have any malted milk powder, but I do have malt syrup and malt extract powder- can either of these be used as a substitute?

    • Maryanne Cabrera replied...

      Hi Jessica, no those cannot be used as substitute. Malted milk powder is made from malted barley and evaporated milk. You can easily find it online and in many supermarkets.


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