Even a poorly executed milkshake still is probably pretty good. But to elevate the classic cool treat to a higher level of indulgence, tips from a milkshake master can help.
For that, we turn to Spike Mendelsohn, veteran of season four of Bravo’s “Top Chef” and creator of Washington’s Good Stuff Eatery, as famous for its milkshakes — including a to-die-for toasted marshmallow variety — as for its burgers.
To help usher in summer, Mendelsohn created a shake especially for The Associated Press. Inspired by s’mores, that classic campfire treat of toasted marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate, Mendelsohn picked flavors he hoped would appeal to people all across the country.
“It’s a shake that everyone can relate to,” he said during a shake-making session at his new Good Stuff location in Crystal City, Va. “S’mores are something everyone had growing up. It’s the kind of shake that puts a smile on people’s faces.”
To capture the thick, creamy, malt-shop quality of a great shake no matter what the variety, Mendelsohn offered the following tips.
• Start with frozen custard. Super-thick and richer than ice cream with more butterfat, custard will give your shake a silky texture and stuck-in-the-straw consistency. “To me, it’s the ultimate ingredient,” Mendelsohn says. Frozen custard is available in many grocers, and can be shipped overnight from online creameries. If all else fails, Mendelsohn says, use the highest butterfat ice cream you can find.
• The right stuff. “What ruins a milkshake is the equipment,” he said. Blenders infuse too much heat and friction where the blade spins, and that will melt your custard, resulting in a watery consistency. Instead, invest in an old-fashioned shake mixer — the kind with the single prong and metal cup — available online for about $30. The metal cup is key, he says, because it keeps all the ingredients cold while they’re being churned.
• Use a plain vanilla base. “Like with art, you start with a blank, white canvas,” Mendelsohn said. “Use plain vanilla custard and you can add elements that pop.” Toasted marshmallows, malted milk balls, candy, cookies and fruit purees are a good start. The only exception is for chocolate shakes, he says, which should start with chocolate custard.
• Texture makes your mouth happy. For smooth shakes, such as banana or plain chocolate, you want a super smooth consistency. For cookie shakes, or something with elements like malt balls or coconut, give it a little crunch throughout. “People like chunks,” he said.
• Garnish with panache. The garnish is the shake’s come on, broadcasting what it’s about and what you can expect from it. For a shake flavored with toasted marshmallows, stick one on top. Strawberry shake? Put a gorgeous piece of fruit on the rim, and maybe drizzle the top with glistening coulis. And every shake needs homemade, hand-whipped, super-thick whipped cream. “Just put a big bazonker on top,” Mendelsohn said.
Besides the famous toasted marshmallow shake, diners at Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery can choose from an imaginative variety: Vietnamese coffee, Milky Way malt ball, salty caramel kiss, and of course, the AP s’mores shake. But the chef’s favorite?
“I still just like chocolate shakes actually,” he said.
Spike Mendelsohn’s S’MORES Milkshake
Start to finish: 30 minutes
16-ounce bag jumbo marshmallows
2 cups whole milk
2 cups chocolate ice cream (get the highest butterfat content possible)
1 tablespoon sour cream
3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
Heat the oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. Reserve four marshmallows for garnish. Spread the remaining marshmallows on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Place the sheet pan under the broiler and cook, stirring once or twice, until completely charred, about two to three minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
2. Repeat with the remaining four marshmallows, but cook until just slightly golden, about one minute. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
3. In a blender, combine the milk, ice cream, sour cream and burnt marshmallows. Blend for five minutes.
4. Pour the chocolate syrup into a shallow bowl. One at a time, overturn four 8-ounce glasses and dunk in the syrup to coat the rims. Pour the milkshake mixture into the glasses and garnish each with one of the reserved toasted marshmallows and the crumbled graham crackers.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 650 calories; 110 calories from fat (17 percent of total calories); 13 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 35 mg cholesterol; 130 g carbohydrate; 9 g protein; 1 g fiber; 230 mg sodium.