Wednesday, July 15, 2009
So, Old School Frozen Custard has opened in what is quickly becoming Seattle's Ice Cream District in Capitol Hill, what with the recent opening of several other arbiters of chilled treats including Molly Moon's Ice Cream and more recently Bluebird Ice Cream. However, you'd be a fool to mistake frozen custard for your everyday softserve. Why? Well, Old School's website does their best to educate, under the heading "What is Frozen Custard?". As they put it:
We know what you're thinking, but you're probably wrong. Frozen custard is not flan, crème brûlée, or something your grandma throws in a pie.
as the narrative goes on, the differences are mainly to be found in two places. First, ingredients: frozen custard not only contains a minimum of 10% butterfat (this is the delectable thing that makes premium ice creams coat your tongue with deliciousness), but it also has 1.4% egg yolk by weight. It's the yolk that separates frozen custard from regular ice cream by adding a "richer, fuller taste and an indescribably silky texture."
The second difference is preparation: "The volume of regular ice cream is almost doubled by the air whipped into it during production (called overrun)," --crystals formed during this time can lead to a coarse texture in softserve ice cream. With frozen custard, the mix is continuously fed into and frozen in a barrel, avoiding this extreme aeration and resulting in a denser, creamier finish with 70% less overrun than regular ice cream. It's also served slightly warmer than ice cream: "In contrast to regular ice cream which is served just above freezing, Old School's frozen custard is served 18-20 degrees warmer, which allows for maximum flavor and doesn't freeze your taste buds."
But enough science. As they say, proof is in the pudding, and the expert CakeSpy tasters (Allie, Jason and Danny) agreed: this stuff is good. Old School only offers three flavors daily (vanilla, chocolate and one daily special) but personalization can be attained with a large variety of mix-ins, from brownie bits to nuts, pretzels, caramel and more. The smooth, silky texture of the custard was delightful, and the addition of brownie and fudge was declared a delight; all agreed that the whipped cream, too, was exceptional.
Overall, the tasters seemed to agree that custard is not for the feint of heart: if you're expecting regular softserve ice cream, the creamy density of this rich treat might be overwhelming. Happily though, this also makes Old School a different enough experience from the other ice cream places that perhaps they can all exist in harmony, ready to cater to all sorts of different frozen-treat cravings. But if it's a seriously decadent dessert experience you're seeking, then maybe it's time to kick it...well, you know.
Old School Frozen Custard, 1316 E. Pike Street, Seattle; online at oldschoolfrozencustard.com.
For an interesting NPR story about frozen custard, click here.