A chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker shake

MICHELE KAYAL
The Associated Press
Modified: May 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm •  Published: May 15, 2012
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Even a poorly executed milkshake still is probably pretty good. But to elevate the classic cool treat to a higher level of indulgence, tips from a milkshake master can help.

For that, we turn to Spike Mendelsohn, veteran of season four of Bravo's "Top Chef" and creator of Washington's Good Stuff Eatery, as famous for its milkshakes — including a to-die-for toasted marshmallow variety — as for its burgers.

To help usher in summer, Mendelsohn created a shake especially for The Associated Press. Inspired by s'mores, that classic campfire treat of toasted marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate, Mendelsohn picked flavors he hoped would appeal to people all across the country.

"It's a shake that everyone can relate to," he said during a shake-making session at his new Good Stuff location in Crystal City, Va. "S'mores are something everyone had growing up. It's the kind of shake that puts a smile on people's faces."

To capture the thick, creamy, malt-shop quality of a great shake no matter what the variety, Mendelsohn offered the following tips.

— Start with frozen custard. Super-thick and richer than ice cream with more butterfat, custard will give your shake a silky texture and stuck-in-the-straw consistency. "To me, it's the ultimate ingredient," Mendelsohn says. Frozen custard is available in many grocers, and can be shipped overnight from online creameries. If all else fails, Mendelsohn says, use the highest butterfat ice cream you can find.

— The right stuff. "What ruins a milkshake is the equipment," he says. Blenders infuse too much heat and friction where the blade spins, and that will melt your custard, resulting in a watery consistency. Instead, invest in an old-fashioned shake mixer — the kind with the single prong and metal cup — available online for about $30. The metal cup is key, he says, because it keeps all the ingredients cold while they're being churned.

— Use a plain vanilla base. "Like with art, you start with a blank, white canvas," Mendelsohn says. "Use plain vanilla custard and you can add elements that pop." Toasted marshmallows, malted milk balls, candy, cookies and fruit purees are a good start. The only exception is for chocolate shakes, he says, which should start with chocolate custard.

— Texture makes your mouth happy. For smooth shakes, such as banana or plain chocolate, you want a super smooth consistency. For cookie shakes, or something with elements like malt balls or coconut, give it a little crunch throughout. "People like chunks," he says.