Lots of companies make them now, but when I was growing up, I only remember one: Hershey's Whoppers Malted Milk Balls. But there are other "old fashioned' brands such as Maltesers. Maybe they weren't available at my candy store? Ghirardelli makes Milk Chocolate Malt Balls. (There's also a Kittymalt Hairball remedy that I have, but I won't go there).
Malt balls (interchangeable with malted balls but not moth balls!) are also available in a variety of flavors: There are pumpkin spice malted milk balls, dark chocolate milk balls, mint malted milk balls, cookies and cream malted milk balls, peanut butter malted milk balls and yogurt malted milk balls, and many other varieties.
Want to just have the Malt Ball center only? Nuts on Line sells them for $3.99 a pound. These malt ball center only candies can be enrobed in the very best chocolate. You can do it yourself in the same way you make chocolate covered nuts. Just melt some chocolate and dip. I use two forks to make it easy. Dry them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
But what is a malt ball? wiseGeek (clear answers for common questions) has the answer:
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 of malted milk balls 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.
Want a fabulous use for Malted Milk Balls? Well, besides eating them at the movies? Sunset Magazine had a great recipe a few years ago for Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream Pie. I definitely love using candy in pies and cakes. This ice cream pie has crunchy malted milk balls on the bottom, malt ice cream above it, and a layer of dark chocolate frosting. Add some whipped cream and sprinkle with chopped and whole malted milk balls when you serve, and you're good to go.
MALTED MILK BALL ICE CREAM PIE
3 1/2 cups malted milk balls, divided
Cookie Crust, using chocolate wafers and a 9-in. cheesecake pan with removable sides (I've posted this recipe before)
1 3/4 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened
3 Tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups malted milk powder (Malted milk powder is made from milk, barley malt, and wheat; don't confuse it with Ovaltine, which has other ingredients added. Find it next to the chocolate milk powder in well-stocked grocery stores)
1 cup whipping cream, divided
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
Arrange a tight layer of malted milk balls (3 cups) over crust. Stir ice cream with cocoa powder and malted milk powder until smooth. Spoon into crust, set on plate, and freeze 5 hours.
Heat 1/2 cup cream meanwhile until simmering. Put chocolate in small metal bowl, pour in cream, and let sit until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let cool completely.
Smooth chocolate ganache over top of pie and freeze until set, about 15 minutes.
Whip remaining 1/2 cup cream and swirl onto pie. Chop some malted milk balls and drop onto pie; add a few whole balls. Remove rim and serve immediately.
Let the pie soften for 5 minutes at room temp to make slicing easier.
If you're having trouble free-ing your pie from its pan, set it over bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes and then slide a thin knife between pan edge and crust. It should pop right out.
Make ahead: Once pie is fully frozen through step 3, it keeps for up to 4 days, double-wrapped in plastic wrap. Top it just before serving.
Photo: Malted Milk Ice Cream Pie: Yunhee Kim; Styling: Karen Shinto