Listening to a radio conversation about milkshakes the other morning turned my mind to thoughts of milk and how much it has changed – particularly in the last couple of decades. When I was a kid there was really only one kind of milk and it was quietly delivered in the wee small hours by a dedicated few. Last thing at night a couple of clean milk bottles and some coins were left out by the front door and the next morning my siblings and I would squabble over who was to get the cream from the top of the bottle to put on their cornflakes! A trip to the shop to buy milk was a simple errand and did not leave one baffled and paralysed with indecision trying to make the right choice out of an overabundance of products. If we wanted flavoured milk we would add ice cream topping or Milo (but only as a special treat) and no-one had ever heard of lactose free milk or “smart” milk.
Modern marketers of milk like to promote their product as pure and natural, with some companies incorporating the word “pure” into their brand name, but this has not always been the case. In England in the 18th and 19th centuries milk was a far from wholesome product. Avaricious traders often heavily diluted it with water, then added things like chalk to whiten it up again. Hygiene standards were non-existent so that milk was frequently contaminated by dirt and manure. Milk from cows infected with Bovine Tuberculosis acted as a medium of transmission of the disease to humans and, according to one source, about one third of samples of milk tested in London, in or about 1900, contained bacteria from diseased udders! Further,because of the high levels of nutrients in milk, any pathogens had an ideal breeding ground. Thus, the drinking of milk was a very risky business indeed until pasteurisation was gradually introduced in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Today, to some extent, we have moved towards the other end of the spectrum where milk is rigidly pasteurised and homogenised so that there is now no cream on the top to fight over. There is also no discernible difference in milk quality and taste over the changing of the seasons, as there used to be depending upon the changing quality of feed for the cows. Raw milk is virtually impossible to get as we are told that, despite modern high standards of hygiene, it may cause health problems.
While modern milk processors use plenty of additives, they are intended to promote health in the consumers, not kill them. And herein lies the dilemma. When faced with such a broad choice of product it can become very confusing and increasingly difficult to work out which is the best product to buy. I Googled just one well-known brand and discovered that they market eight different kinds of milk! They have specific products for bone health, heart health, children’s brain development – some with a dizzying array of add on extras – and several varieties of reduced fat milks. It is hardly any wonder I’m bewildered.
Talk of milkshakes also got me thinking about flavour preferences. The Husband is very partial to a lime milkshake, but I find that unnatural, lurid green colour a little scary – my inclination is, of course, chocolate, but with the addition of malt. It is also nice to have a little something to nibble on and I find that the flavours of chocolate and malt go together just as nicely in a cookie. You could use ordinary chocolate chips in these, but I chopped up some 56% Callebaut. You could also ice these with an icing made with the malted milk powder – or would that be gilding the lily?
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup malted milk powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 1 good pinch of salt
- 2 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 150 gm chopped chocolate
- Preheat oven to 150C and prepare cookie trays with baking paper.
- Cream butter and the sugars well with electric beaters – the mixture should go fairly pale.
- Add the malt, eggs and vanilla paste and mix well.
- Gradually add the salt, flour, baking soda and chocolate until well blended.
- Drop by the teaspoonful onto trays and bake for approx 20 minutes.
- Leave on trays for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on wire racks.