Properly made chocolate egg custard is hard to find. The drink was invented by Louis Auster in the 1890s and remained popular throughout the early 20th century. Known for having no eggs or cream, the sugary treat was once poured freely from sodas in candy stores in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge and Manhattan’s Lower East Side in New York City. Recently, it has appeared on menus as a relic of the past or a novelty; but, if you order it, chances are you will be disappointed with the taste. Few people know how to do it well anymore – egg custards often come out too chocolatey, too liquid, too light.
So what’s the secret to mixing up an egg custard that rivals an old fashioned soda (because of course it has to be spelled with two p’s and an e at the end) without the use of a traveling machine in time ? Before we get to how to make egg custard at home, here is a brief overview of egg custards.
What is an egg custard?
If an egg custard is not made with eggs or heavy cream, what ingredients Is it contains ? When prepared correctly, chocolate egg custard is made with cold whole milk, chocolate syrup and seltzer water in just the right proportions. Ideally, one would use Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup, which is key to a New York-style egg custard. No eggs or cream. No chocolate milk or ice cream. Too much chocolate results in a sweet, cloying drink. Too much seltzer from the soda fountain, and the drink will taste watered down, a fizzy embodiment of disappointment. An egg cream is the perfect balance between sweetness, richness and effervescence. And one very well Egg custard is a frothy and refreshing treat. As to why it’s called “egg custard?” Auster’s grandson, Stanley Auster, has a theory: that the name had simply been mutilated over time. The drink was originally called “echt” (or “genuine, real” in Yiddish) cream, as in “good cream”, but somehow “egg” got stuck.
Anyway, the only way to have an echt cream today, which would make Auster proud, is to make one yourself. So let’s get started.
How to make egg custard
1. Choose the right glass.
Start by choosing the right glass. It should hold about 12 ounces of liquid, be large enough to show off the beautiful chocolate mousse you’re about to create, and wide enough for you to stir the drink well with a spoon. A tall highball glass will work well, as will an old-fashioned ice cream parfait glass (if you don’t have one, now’s a good time to invest).
2. Pour in the milk.
Once you have chosen your glass, add the milk. No matter how tall your glass is, you should fill it just under a quarter of the way with milk (so ideally about two to three ounces, or just over a quarter cup). Use whole milk for the creamiest and richest custard, but feel free to try it with almond milk or oat milk for a dairy-free custard that will be just as good. delicious.
3a. Add the chocolate syrup – as if you were serious.
Next, add about an inch of chocolate syrup to the bottom of the glass. If you’re making this drink with a friend or family member, add a little extra chocolate squirt to your drink, while giving them a hard look, so they know you’re serious (and your egg custard will be surely the best and the most chocolate).
3b. Upside down, upside down!
Quick note: It’s perfectly fine to add the chocolate to the glass first, then pour in the milk. Personally, I like to add the milk first. My dad, a born and raised Brooklynite, added the chocolate first. Anyway, that’s fine. Do not mix the milk and chocolate yet. It would be a mistake. Let them separate for now.
3c. You don’t have to use Fox’s U-bet Chocolate Syrup. Controversial, I know.
OK, here’s the most controversial thing I’ve ever written: you don’t have to use Fox’s U-bet Chocolate Syrup. I know, I know, Fox’s U-bet Chocolate Syrup was invented in Brooklyn in 1895 and it’s iconic. It’s definitely the chocolate syrup most associated with classic egg custard and it’s sacrilege for me to tell people not to use Fox’s U-bet. But Fox’s original U-bet was made with sugar, and the current version is made with corn syrup. So, if you really want an original-tasting egg custard, find chocolate syrup made with real sugar instead of corn syrup (which wasn’t invented until the late 1950s). Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup will do just fine, as will any other chocolate syrup that’s easy to find at the grocery store. Don’t tell my father that I gave you this permission.
4. Add seltzer water and stir very aggressively.
When you have your milk and chocolate syrup ready in the glass, select a long spoon for stirring and an unopened bottle or can of seltzer. It is of the utmost importance that the seltzer water is fresh and unopened. It needs to be as fiercely bubbly as possible to make great egg custard. In fact, when I make this drink, I open a new bottle of seltzer water, then immediately add seltzer water to my glass. It should have a million little bubbles, like a flute of champagne on New Years Eve.
Pour freshly opened seltzer aggressively: the seltzer should crash into the glass, a disruptive force similar to the jet from a soda fountain. Stop pouring the seltzer water when the liquid approaches the top of the glass. Foam may rise and spread over the top of the glass at this point, but that’s normal. In fact, it’s a good thing – it’s a sign that you’re having fun, and egg custards are supposed to be fun! Ignore the spill and start stirring the drink immediately. I move the spoon in a quick up and down motion, rather than a swirling, spinning motion. Chopping up and down with the spoon will help develop a nice thick foam on the drink, which is essential.
5. Check out this foam!
When the chocolate syrup is well mixed, take a look at your mousse. If it’s white, make it brown and chocolatey by scooping some liquid from the bottom of the custard glass and folding it over the top of the mousse. Do this until the mousse turns brown and is nice and chocolaty. This is called “turnover” and it is a vital step. If anyone ever tries to give you chocolate egg custard with a white mousse on top, you should send them back. The chocolate flavor will not be well incorporated and you will miss the drink’s characteristic sweetness. Enjoy your egg cream immediately after making it. Don’t let it sit too long or it will lose some of its foam, as well as some of its intangible vitality, power, and beauty.