Chocolate Soda

Remember last week when I made chocolate banana milkshakes and tried to claim that Eleanor must have saved the recipe (which was included in a Quik advert) so that she could make the shakes with her grandchildren? Yeah, I was wrong.

Upon further inspection, I realised that the second recipe included in the pamphlet is, in fact, basically an egg cream.* ('Ah, an egg cream!' says everyone over the age of 50. 'what the hell is an egg cream?' says everyone else).

An egg cream, as I learned the only time I ever visited Queens, is a drink containing neither eggs nor cream and sold mainly at soda fountains, mainly in Brooklyn, mainly in the mid-twentieth century. When I was in New York a few years ago, I met up with a friend in Queens and he took me to an adorable coffee-shop-cum-soda-fountain, and I knew I had to get an egg cream because it was the only drink on the menu I hadn't heard of. Honestly, it was a little disappointing. Kind of water-y and strange (because you never expect milk to be fizzy), and somehow not super flavourful. I didn't blame the restaurant: I just figured egg creams weren't for me.

But then I remembered that they involved milk and soda water, and I thought I'd better look them up again before I made any big-time declarations about how Quik had invented this weird drink. Sure enough, this recipe is just an egg cream with a scoop of ice cream, and now I'm pretty sure Eleanor actually saved that silly Quik advert so she could make herself an egg cream anytime she wanted it (she was, after all, a Brooklyn native who lived there throughout the heyday of the egg cream in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s).

Now, before you're turned off because the phrase 'egg cream' sounds like a thick, custardy drink, know this: the great thing about egg creams is that they're really light-- perfect for summer. I daresay you could even drink one of these on the beach without worrying about going into an ice cream coma.

As for the recipe: If you happen to be the one person in one thousand who owns a set of parfait glasses, now is definitely the time to use them. Pop one of those suckers in the freezer, find yourself a pretty straw, and go to town. Allegedly, when egg creams were invented, you could get a chocolate or a vanilla one-- but I have no idea what the vanilla one had in it to make it vanilla. Just the ice cream, maybe? Or some kind of vanilla syrup reduction (yes, please!), but either way I think this is a question that demands more research... if only I could find a bottle of Quik.

*Here's a fun egg cream fact: when I looked them up to find out the recipe, I learned that no one actually knows why they are called egg creams (seeing as how they contain neither of those ingredients). Explanations vary from 'maybe they used to be made with all those ingredients?' to 'maybe they were (inexplicably) named in French as chocolat et crème, and Americans misheard it?' I'm unsatisfied by both of those explanations, but I do like the idea that even back in the 1800s, naming something in French immediately made it more desirable.

The verdict:

4 spoons out of five. This is a surprisingly refreshing take on the milkshake-- one that doesn't require me to get out my food processor, UK power converter, and all the accoutrements that go along with it. Plus, it's less filling and won't leave you feeling like a beached whale after you drink one. Make one tonight and then phone up your favourite honey for a date to the sock hop-- you're practically re-inventing the 1950s after all.

The recipe:

Chocolate Soda

the directions:

In tall glass, combine milk and chocolate syrup, stirring briskly until blended.
Add club soda, pouring gently.
Top with a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!

Yields 1 generous soda.

The ingredients:

¾ c milk (I recommend semi-skimmed/2%)
3 tbsp chocolate syrup or more to taste
½ c club soda
1 scoop ice cream