Growing up in Southern California, my frozen treat of choice was an airy, cylindrical shaped cone of mint chip ice cream from the Thrifty counter at every Rite Aid in the area—a phenomenon mysteriously absent at Pacific Northwestern Rite Aids.
I hadn't had frozen custard until I moved here and went to the late, great Old School Frozen Custard on Pike. I loved it, even though I never knew exactly what makes frozen custard different from its ice cream counterpart.
Snoqualmie Ice Cream is the local frozen custard standard bearer since Old School recently closed its Capitol Hill location. And it wasn't until talking to Snoqualmie's Samantha Hill that my confusion about custard went away.
The Snohomish-based operation has been making frozen custard for about 11 years and recently added six new flavors to its lineup. They're bolder than their predecessors: brown butter sugar cookie, blueberry cardamom crisp, red raspberry cake, spicy banana brownie, brown sugar cookie dough, and crispy marshmallow treat, the winner of a recent flavor contest.
Ice cream is essentially cream, milk, and sugar. Now add what Hill refers to as "literal buckets and buckets of eggs" and cut down on some of the cream, and you have frozen custard. The result is softer and creamier than ice cream, but richer than soft serve.
Even food industry professionals continually ask about the differences among custard, gelato, soft serve, and ice cream says Hill.
The Midwest is where frozen custard reigns supreme, but it's slower to catch on around here. This probably has something to do with the presence of eggs and the fact that the word custard conjures images of a gelatinous yellow substance, usually warm, that my mom used to try to get me to eat with pie.
Geography and memories aside, frozen custard is good stuff. And between this new flavor lineup and some healthy competition from Tillamook down in Oregon, you might start noticing more of it in local freezers. Pints of Snoqualmie Ice Cream's new custard flavors are on shelves at specialty stores and Safeways throughout the city and the full lineup will be available at QFC and Fred Meyer by the end of the month.