Malted Big Wheels

Back in 1956, this recipe made it to the finals of the Pillsbury Bake-Off.  I guess back in the fifties oversize cookies were innovative, and the fact that this cookie had malted milk powder in the dough and frosting made it even more unique.  The cookie didn’t win a cash prize,  but it must be well-loved because Pillsbury included it in their ‘Best of the Bake-Off” collection.    As for texture and taste, the cookies are very tender, but sturdy and dense like a packaged cookies. The cookie’s flavor is a not too sweet brown sugar-vanilla and it makes a great base for the icing which tastes like brown sugar and malt.  For me, the icing is what made the cookie.

The recipe below is supposed to yield 18 cookies. I halved it and got 8 cookies.


Malted Big Wheels

4 cups all purpose unbleached flour (540 grams)
3/4 cup plain malted milk powder (Carnation)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz (230 grams) salted butter
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped almonds ( roasted) – recipe says peanuts are okay too

4 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup half & half
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup malt powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar (Can use up to 2 ½ cups), sifted

90 whole almonds for garnish (optional)
Chocolate chips for garnish (optional)

Stir the flour, malted milk powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla and stir in the sour cream. By hand or using lowest speed of mixer, stir in the flour mixture in 3 parts. Stir in the almonds. Chill dough for about 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out half of the dough and using about a 5 inch round (I used the top of an oatmeal canister but the original recipe suggests you use a coffee can), punch out big ¼ inch thick circles. Lift with a spatula and arrange, spacing 3 inches apart, on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-14 minutes. Mine took 14.

Cool cookies, then make icing. You’ll need to use the icing as soon as it’s made, so don’t make it ahead of time.

Cook and stir butter, half & half and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until brown sugar is melted. Remove from heat and stir in the malt powder, vanilla and powdered sugar. For the powdered sugar, stir it in ½ cup at a time. Spoon the frosting over the cooled cookies.

Decorate cookies by arranging 5 whole almonds in a spoke pattern and putting a chocolate chip in the center.

Makes about 18 cookies

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  1. says

    Your cookies are really pretty! My hubby and I love malt, so I think we’d like these. (Unfortunately, there are very few cookies we wouldn’t like.)

  2. Louise says

    Certain oversize cookies were common place in 1956. I clearly remember my dad buying me giant sugar cookies and elephant ears at a bakery. But it was probably ten years later when a boardwalk bakery had a thriving business just selling giant gingerbread men to the tourists (and the college girls waitressing there for the summer). And, it was much later than that, maybe the early 1980’s, when giant chocolate chip cookies became the norm.

  3. says

    Oh my GOODNESS! I’ve been searching for this recipe forever! I can’t believe you posted it today! Thank you so much Anna:)

  4. says

    That looks like it came straight out of the Betty Crocker Kid’s Cookbook (which I loved)–so wonderful and retro! I didn’t know malt was popular in the 50s, although come to think of it that was when sweethearts used to ‘share a malted.’

  5. C L says

    This sounds absolutely delightful, and malt is one of my very favorite flavors! Having recently purchased several jars of Horlicks malt powder, this recipe is quite timely. 🙂 Looks like the coworkers are getting Big Wheels for Monday treat next week…of course, I’ll have to make a “test” half batch for me, just to make sure they taste OK.LOL 🙂

  6. says

    Sue, these just might be the first ever cookie made with malt. Then again, I have no idea.

    Louise M., maybe the lady who invented these modeled her cookies after something she bought at a fair. I wish I knew the story.

    Louise, wow! I’m glad I posted something useful. I just thought the recipe sounded interesting, but now I’m happy to hear you actually needed it.

    M, malt was popular back then, but in ice cream….probably not in cookies.

    CL, Big Wheels are the perfect cookie for truckers.

  7. Jenine says

    Anna, these look delicious! I love malt! Can you tell me if the topping actually sets up or does it remain soft?

    I thought you had a section that had your suggested cookies that did well in shipping or traveling but I don’t see it. Can you direct me?



  8. says

    Hi Jenine,

    The topping sets. It’s kind of like a praline.

    As for shipping, I got rid of that section because I’ve had terrible luck shipping things lately.

  9. Jenine says

    Aww drat. I was hoping to get ideas as to what would ship well. I made a friend some rum balls, thinking they’d be safe. Nope. What he got in the mail was a rum LOAF!

    Any suggestions as to a few cookies that would hold together well just to send off with my husband for his work mates? Being that they don’t have to go through the mail and all. 🙂


  10. says

    Now that’s a different story! Just about all the cookies here are easy to pack and share, but keeping cookies fresh after a few days in the postal system is difficult.

    Shoot me an email if you want more recommendations. I can be more specific. For now, the best bet is to peruse the category at the top left called “All-Time Favorite Cookies”.

  11. says

    These cookies are gorgeous! I don’t know if I would be able to eat them! I mean, I would…. but it would be hard…. 🙂

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