The tricky but tasty task of making great shakes


High-quality ice cream, fresh whole milk needed

August 28, 2002|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Some taste pleasures of childhood lose their charm as the years go by. Bubble gum, Sugar Daddies, even Red Hots no longer tempt me.

Milkshakes are a different matter. I loved them then. I love them now. And I'm not alone.

When my parents piled my brothers and me into the car for road trips, we would wait for the magic words. "If anybody else wants a milkshake ... " my mother would say. She never had to finish the sentence.

After painstaking research, selflessly volunteering myself and pressing into service several willing adults and children as guinea pigs, I have concluded that the perfect milkshake exists but that it can differ for each person, even if only slightly. Our experiments centered on the venerable chocolate milkshake, which can be a bit trickier than a straightforward vanilla shake.

There is a basic rule to making a good milkshake of any flavor: The better the ingredients, the tastier the shake. With high-quality ice cream and fresh whole milk, it's hard to go wrong.

Some milkshake enthusiasts insist that a shake takes its flavor only from the ice cream. According to that theory, a chocolate shake consists of chocolate ice cream and milk, and one that uses vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup or powder is technically not a regular milkshake and deserves a different name.

We tried both kinds, and found that at least one of each qualified as "the perfect chocolate milkshake."

The best chocolate-ice-cream-and-milk combination was at Moxley's in Towson, which was thick enough to contain some enticing lumps of chocolate ice cream. Our volunteers were not able to sample shakes from every ice-cream stand in the area, but I suspect that almost every place that features top-quality ice cream can produce a memorable shake with chocolate ice cream and milk.

At home, however, even with a premium chocolate ice cream, that recipe just didn't carry the oomph of a shake made with premium vanilla ice cream, milk and a rich chocolate sauce. (We used Mrs. Richardson's Hot Fudge Topping.) That version was proclaimed the best by a trio of young researchers, ages 8 to 10. Another version, with Ovaltine Rich Chocolate powder, also got good reviews.

If you're in search of your own perfect chocolate milkshake, take heart. It's there, waiting for you to find it. It might take some "research," but what better end-of-summer project could there be?

My Perfect Chocolate Milkshake

Serves 1

2 generous scoops high-quality vanilla ice cream

1 cup milk

1 1/2 tablespoons rich chocolate sauce

Mix well in blender or milkshake machine.

Note: Adjust proportions to suit your own taste. For thicker shakes, use more ice cream or less milk. For more chocolate flavor, use more chocolate sauce. You can also substitute chocolate ice cream for vanilla, but our panel of researchers found that with both chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce, the shake was "too chocolaty."

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