Here's a funny thing about an egg cream: It contains neither eggs nor cream. What it does offer is a sweet yet light way to end a meal. And, if you're so inclined (I am) you can slip your booze in at the same time. Bonus!
The egg cream is a soda shop classic. In the old days of drugstore soda fountains, kids and teenagers would belly up to the bar for a rich glass of milk, fizzed up with soda, and sweetened with a thick stir of chocolate syrup. Chocolate egg creams were especially associated with Brooklyn; you often see them referred to as the "Brooklyn egg cream."
I don't know how "egg" and "cream" became associated with this drink, since it has neither, but it is indeed both creamy and refreshing at the same time. It's sort of like an ice cream float, without the full-on scoop of ice cream. I prefer to get my calories from food, not drinks (cocktails excepted), so the only time I have a sweet, rich drink is at the end of a meal. I find that a milkshake or a sweet smoothie is a great way to end a meal — especially in warmer weather.
This egg cream is another good example of a way to end a meal with a kick of something sweet that's sipped from a straw. But it's not made from ice cream or frozen yogurt; the richest thing in it is milk. So while it's sweet, it's also lighter.
It's also just about the easiest dessert imaginable. Bring a set of glasses to the table with straws and iced tea spoons, and the chocolate milk in a little pitcher. Pour and let everyone stir their own drink. Simple, and a lot of fun.
And if you, like me, enjoy the taste of bourbon with your chocolate, then whisk a little in with the milk, and sip away in the springtime sunshine!
A few more notes on my process below:
• A traditional egg cream calls for plain milk mixed with chocolate syrup (Fox's U-bet, to be really precise). I have access though to really incredible chocolate milk, so that's what I used here, upping the chocolate quotient considerably. If you want a more traditional egg cream experience, use plain whole milk.
• It's best to put the milk in the freezer for about 15 to 30 minutes before pouring it. You want it super cold.
• And finally, it's hard to get a proper head on an egg cream using just bottled seltzer. It won't foam up quite like the fountain-mixed drinks of yore. Use a small whisk to help the drink foam as the seltzer is poured into the milk.
3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1/2 cup chocolate milk, extremely well-chilled
1/2 ounce (about 1 tablespoon) bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup seltzer water, well-chilled
Pour the chocolate syrup into a tall glass. Mix in the chocolate milk, bourbon, and vanilla extract. Slowly pour in the seltzer water, using one hand to pour and the other hand to mix the seltzer and milk with a small whisk. Whisk the top of the drink vigorously for a few moments; you should end up with a foamy top layer, and a thicker chocolate milk layer below. Drink immediately!
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(Images: Faith Durand)