Choose Your Milk Wisely For A Frothy Egg Cream

If you don't know what an egg cream is or what it tastes like, we wouldn't blame you. It's not that easy to find outside of old-school delis and diners in New York City and is notoriously difficult to bottle, making it impossible to spread to the masses like other fountain drinks have been. Even though it's only made from chocolate syrup, seltzer water, and milk, the reason it can't be bottled lies entirely in how poorly these ingredients hold together. The delicious perfection of a fresh egg cream is fleeting, because if you don't drink it soon after it's made it loses its carbonation, the ingredients separate from one another, and the frothy head that sits on top fizzles out completely.

Few soda fountain drinking experiences are as satisfying as egg cream. Not only because of the flavors, but due to the texture from the bubbly foam that caps it. In order to achieve this texture when making an egg cream at home, you'll have to choose the right milk. Unfortunately for fans of 2% or skim milk, a frothy egg cream cannot be achieved with those due to their lack of fat. They'll still foam when mixed with the other ingredients, but the bubbles will be bigger and lack creamy texture. Whole milk contains the necessary fat and lactose needed to stabilize the foam when aerated enough to result in the thick, rich layer of froth essential for a signature egg cream.

How to make an egg cream vegan

Since it's been established already that egg creams contain neither eggs nor cream, it doesn't seem like it would be much of a stretch to turn this dairy drink vegan. Egg cream purists don't use any other chocolate syrup besides Fox's U-Bet (also originating in New York), but sadly it's not vegan-friendly. While there are plenty of vegan chocolate syrup substitutes out there, be sure to choose one that is not overly sweet and has a rich chocolate flavor similar to the classic U-Bet. Ambitious home cooks who'd like more control of what goes into their vegan chocolate syrup can also opt to make it from scratch. There are vegan chocolate brands you should and shouldn't buy, so be sure to choose wisely for the best-tasting syrup.

As for the milk, all of the usual players are fair game: almond, cashew, soy, etc. If you're just going for taste, you can select whichever non-dairy milk you like best. But if you're going for texture, you'll want to choose a vegan-friendly milk substitute that will yield a foamy head closest to the original — and for that, oat milk has no substitute. Oat milk typically contains seed and nut oils to prevent separation, giving it a higher fat and protein content than other plant-based milk. These lipids add additional structure to the frothy head of the vegan egg cream, giving drinkers a similar mouthfeel as the original.