We've noticed a few things while out in the field doing copious amounts of confectionery research (strictly for the people) this summer. We've been getting serious Eighties Ovaltine flashbacks because dessert vixens are using malt a lot right now. A few of these fine specimens that we're going to recommend to you will disappear before Labor Day, so we suggest you start planning a malt mission immediately.
But what is malt, anyway?
It's sort of confusing because "malt" is somewhat of a catch-all term that refers to both grains and malted milk powders (of which malted barley, wheat flour, and whole milk are often components). The malting process begins by germinating cereal grains such as barley, halting it before completion by introducing high temperatures. The chemistry results in that distinctive flavor at the bottom of your milkshake, a sort of toasty, caramel quality.
Michael Recchiuti is making a malted milk chocolate sauce for the month of August that's available in his retail stores and at his cafe Chocolate Lab. It might not hurt to pick one up and hope against hope that he's just testing out the market and it could be back on a permanent basis. God, we hope so; the jar they sent us to sample was eaten swiftly with a spoon (cold and warmed) before we even had a chance to actually use it on something.
Smitten Ice Cream in Hayes Valley (and soon in Rockridge) is rocking a malted caramel sauce as one of the current topping options. We tried it with honey nectarine ice cream, a super limited summer flavor. Dude, do this immediately, even if it's crappy outside. You'll feel like you are having a summer.
There are also malt options in the rotating lineup at Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream. They despise the concept of vanilla enough there to spell it out with symbols, expletive style, but the Malted V*nill@ actually has a lot of depth of flavor. There's also a Malted Dulce de Leche, which is never a bad word.