Egg creams are a classic soda fountain drink that dates back to the pharmacies/soda fountains of the late 19th century. The drink’s origins are actually unknown, but there are plenty of theories out there, including the idea that the name arose from the mispronunciation of the phrase “a cream.” Most of the mystery stems from the fact that egg creams, despite the name, actually include neither eggs nor cream. The drink is made with chocolate syrup, milk and soda water. It is a creamy, chocolatey drink that is more like chocolate milk than a milkshake, and it delivers a dose of nostalgia with every sip.
Egg creams are best enjoyed in soda fountains, but they can also be found in some NY-style delis that make them from scratch. If you don’t live near an old fashioned soda fountain, you can make this old fashioned treat easily at home – just like I do. My Homemade Chocolate Egg Cream starts with a homemade chocolate syrup, which is combined with milk and topped with soda water just before serving. The soda water gives the drink its signature foamy “head.” I’ll be the first one to admit that you get the best “head” when your soda comes from a soda gun at a soda fountain. Bottled soda water simply isn’t quite as fizzy. That said, it still brings the right amount of carbonation to the drink and a nice lightness.
The chocolate syrup is made with cocoa powder, sugar and water, with a touch of vanilla extract added, as well. It only takes a few minutes to make and one batch is enough for quite a few egg creams. My chocolate syrup has a slightly darker chocolate flavor than some store-bought syrups, but you can also buy bottled chocolate syrup to make your egg creams. U-Bet is a popular brand used in many soda fountains and makes a very classic egg cream. No matter which syrup you start with, this is a very retro treat that is well worth trying.
Homemade Chocolate Egg Cream
1 1/2 oz (3 tbsp) chocolate syrup
4 oz (1/2 cup) milk, whole or reduced fat
approx 2 oz soda water
In an 8- to 10-oz glass, combine chocolate syrup and milk. Whisk vigorously, until chocolate syrup is dissolved. Top with soda water and serve immediately.
Homemade Chocolate Syrup for Egg Creams
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, combine cocoa powder, sugar, water and salt. Whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Whisk in vanilla extract.
Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. Syrup can be used while it is still warm, but should be allowed to cool before being stored in the refrigerator. Syrup can be stored for at least 2 weeks.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.