The malt powder goes into the dry ingredients, which is just flour, the malt powder, baking powder and salt - I usually have two kinds of malted-milk powder stocked in the pantry, both chocolate and plain, as they are wicked good as ice cream toppings (or of course, to make shakes!). These cookies use the plain though, allowing the malt flavor to take precedence.
While butter is used in the dough, to give the cookies a tender quality, a few ounces cream cheese is also thrown in mix. Flecking the batter with black dots, fragrant seeds scraped right from a plump vanilla bean were added with the sugar to be evenly distributed.
Don't throw away the almost empty pod though - stick it in a resealable container filled with granulated sugar and let the pod permeate through, making your own jar of delicate vanilla sugar! While the seeds are powerful on their own, since the malt is no slouch and packs a wallop, we backed up the vanilla with a half teaspoon worth of vanilla extract to be sure its flavor didn't become lost.
The dough is somewhat stiff and on the stickier side when fully combined - to bang the cookies out, the dough is scooped into a sturdy pipping bag and squeezed out using a large open star tip (I used an Ateco tip number #825).
They do spread slightly, but nothing too crazy, so the cookies don't have to be far apart - about 1" between the strips is good. When baking, you want the tops of the cookies to gain just a hint of color, while the edges around the bottoms should become golden brown. When cool, the cookies have a texture somewhat resembling shortbread - sturdy, a little crumbly when you bite into them, yet still tender enough that they melt in your mouth.
A bonus for these cookies is the fact they are not overly sweet - just enough sugar for structure and enhancement without becoming cloying. While I did talk about not using chocolate malted powder, if you can't find yourself satiated without a touch of chocolate, I could be swayed to dunking just a portion of the cookie in melted bittersweet chocolate to take these over the top (and gain a striking contrast to the blond? cookies!).
I know vanilla beans are expensive (just over $7 for three when we went to pick them up at our local Penzey's store), but I don't suggest leaving them out if you want the full experience. I think those intense seeds are needed to cut the pungency of the malt, but you could always try using a bit more extract if you'd rather not spend the extra money. Or, if you happen to be so lucky, instead of using the extract and bean, you could try using vanilla paste, which is a concentrated extract laced with vanilla seeds.
Since this recipe made plenty, Jeff was more than excited to find out he gets to keep a couple dozen for himself! I'm sure he is going to lay complete claim over them, so I'll be surprised if I get anymore, even though I made them! Hmph! (Or maybe this will be shame enough and he'll share? That's my plan... hee hee!)
Vanilla Malted Cookies