For that, we turn to Spike Mendelsohn, veteran of season four of Bravo's "Top Chef" and creator of Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C., 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. It's inspired by s'mores, that classic campfire treat of toasted marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate.
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. Or, Mendelsohn says, use the highest butterfat ice cream you can find.
The right stuff. "What ruins a milkshake is the equipment," he says. 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. "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.
Garnish with panache. 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 says.
Spike Mendelsohn's s'mores milkshake
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.
Reserve 4 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 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Repeat with the remaining 4 marshmallows, but cook until just slightly golden, about 1 minute. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
In a blender, combine the milk, ice cream, sour cream and burnt marshmallows. Blend for 5 minutes.
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. Makes 4 servings.
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.
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