The One Ingredient That Makes Brownies 100x Better (Whether Boxed or Homemade)

published Feb 1, 2024
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coffee brownies on table stacked
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

One of my favorite discoveries from my life as a professional baker is malted milk powder. It’s an unassuming ingredient that pretty much hangs out in plain sight in the baking aisle of any grocery store. Made from a simple combination of malted barley, wheat flour, and dried milk, it makes any dessert taste infinitely better.

Nowadays, I always level up a batch of brownies, whether they’re chewy homemade or from a box (like our pecan pie brownies), by adding malted milk powder directly to the batter. A few tablespoonfuls is all you need to take your brownies from good to great. 

Whether you’re new to this hack or need a reminder about the greatness of malted milk powder, here’s how to add this game-changing ingredient to your baking routine. 

Why Malted Milk Powder Makes Brownies Even Better

In the baking world, malted milk powder is known as the “umami bomb of desserts,” on par with soy sauce and miso on the savory side of things. This unique blend of ingredients — malted barley, wheat flour, and dried milk — adds a deep, rich, toasty, and caramelized flavor to brownies (and really any baked good). You’ll also notice a roasted and slightly earthy flavor in your final brownies, which helps to temper their sweetness. 

How to Use Malted Milk Powder

When preparing your batter (or cookie dough), simply add a tablespoon or two to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine — it couldn’t get any easier! I like two tablespoons in my brownie batter, but if you’re new to this ingredient, start with one tablespoon. Taste and see how you like it. If it’s spot-on for you, stick with that amount, but if you’re curious, go for a full two tablespoons. 

Other Ways to Use Malted Milk Powder

When you’re ready to venture beyond brownies, here’s a roundup of other sweets you should be adding malted milk powder to.