New Yorkers, and especially Brooklynites, do not take their egg creams lightly, nor for granted. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s when egg creams were made and served in a candy store or a shop with fountain service.
Legend has it, egg creams were invented by a Brooklyn candy store owner in the late 19th Century. Egg creams do not have eggs in them or cream. They consist of chocolate or vanilla syrup, whole milk and seltzer water…that’s it. And it has to be made to order. Some companies have tried to bottle it and sell it around the country. Absolutely the worst thing I ever tasted. No, egg creams have to be made at a soda fountain, or at home with the proper ingredients.
When I was in high school I worked at one of those candy stores in Brooklyn that had fountain service, BonBons on 77 Street and New Utrecht Avenue. I must have made a thousand egg creams, along with chocolate sodas, vanilla sodas, cherry cokes, ice cream sodas, ice cream sundaes, malts and shakes. So you are not getting this insight from some novice. I’m a professional. Some might call me a jerk… a soda jerk.
The technique of making egg creams was not written in some book. Or learned in a classroom. It was handed down from one soda jerk to the next. Eddie was my mentor. And he taught me everything I know about making fountain treats, and egg creams. I watched him do it a hundred times while I sat at his counter enjoying my own personal egg cream. I knew the formula by heart. Then one day, Eddie was called out of the store for a moment and the counter was unattended. A customer walked in. Just got off the B train coming from The City. It was a hot summer evening and the gentleman had his tie pulled down and his shirt collar unbuttoned at the neck. He had a Daily News under his arm and he looked like he needed a pick me up. Something refreshing. A treat and reward for his hour long commute from The City to Brooklyn. Some people crave a martini after a long day at work or before dinner. This gentleman wanted an egg cream…a chocolate egg cream.
I didn’t waste any time. I jumped behind the counter and whipped up the tallest, coolest egg cream I knew how to make. The man dropped his 15 cents on the counter top as I placed the egg cream in front of him. The white, foamy head cascaded over the top of the glass and formed a pool at the bottom. He picked up the egg cream, wiped off the bottom, and holding the potion with his pinky raised towards the ceiling gulped it down in one smooth move. His head tilted back to be sure he had the last drop from the glass. He put the glass down and smacked his lips and thanked me for a good one. When Eddie got back to the candy store he saw me behind the counter and greeted the satisfied customer that was walking out of the store.
I started working at BonBons the very next day. It was my first job after school. I was making $8 a week….off the books.
Not only are the proper ingredients necessary for a proper egg cream, but the order which they enter the glass is also very important. Am I making too much of this? I don’t think so. You asked for a good egg cream, now I’m going to show you how it’s done.
The Milk: You can only use whole milk. The non-fat or 1% or 2% will just not cut it. Save calories somewhere else. Not here. When egg creams were invented, milk was milk and no one was worried about how much milk fat was in the bottle. Whole milk helps make a proper head in the egg cream. You NEVER want an egg cream without the proper head.
The Flavoring: Chocolate or Vanilla. Syrup of choice: Fox’s u-bet 20-oz. Vanilla Syrup Chocolate 22-oz. A Brooklyn original. Now here is a little tid bit that not too many people know. The time of year when you buy this syrup makes a difference. All year long Fox’s u-bet syrup is swettened with corn syrup…except during Passover. That is when they use 100% real cane sugar to sweeten the syrup. And that makes all the difference in the world to the taste of your egg cream. Is this too extreme? Not for egg cream lovers. You can’t use Hersey syrup or Nestle powder or bosco. So when Passover comes around it’s time to stock up on your Fox’s u-bet Chocolate Flavor Syrup. And how would you know it’s the right time to buy and your not getting the other stuff? At the top of the bottle is a shrink wrap plastic safety quality seal. And printed on that wrapper is the Kosher for Passover seal. Don’t buy it with out it.
Fox’s u-bet also makes vanilla flavored syrup. Same deal. Buy it during Passover.
The Soda Water: You can only use seltzer. Not club soda or San Pellegrino or Perrier. Club soda has salt in it and would ruin the taste of your egg cream. The other stuff is not seltzer…two cent plain….carbonated water. Only a fresh, cold bottle of plain unflavored seltzer will do. There was a time that you could not find seltzer in the stores. You had to buy the siphon bottles of seltzer. But thank goodness the market opened up for bottled seltzer water. Now it’s available everywhere.
The Mixology: It’s always better to start with a chilled 15-24 ounce glass.(Libbey 15645, Duratuff Panel Tumbler Glass, 24 Ounce (15645LIB) Category: Iced Tea and Soda Glasses ) Pour about two fingers of whole milk in the glass. Simply curl your index and middle finger around the bottom of the glass and fill it with milk to the top of your index finger. Next, pour in the seltzer. A freshly opened bottle of ice cold seltzer. Fill the glass till the foam is about 1/2 inch from the top of the glass. Don’t worry if some runs over. Next, pour in about 2 fingers of your chocolate syrup. It will settle to the bottom of the glass and you can measure from there . Add a little more or less according to your taste, but for your first egg cream you can start with this amount. With a spoon, stir the egg cream with an up-down quick stirring motion till the syrup is distributed . Don’t stir too hard because you do not want to disturb the head that has formed at the top of the glass. The ingredients have to be placed in that order: milk, seltzer, and syrup. You now have the proper way to make a truly delicious New York Egg Cream. Enjoy! And stay thirsty my friend!