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Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard & Treatery Adds a Touch of Sweetness

By S. Mathur

In 2014, Ken Baker and his family decided that New Mexico needed to have frozen custard as well as frozen yogurt and other types of ice cream. Owner Ken Baker says that coming to New Mexico from Missouri, they missed the treats they had "regularly enjoyed at frozen custard businesses such as Ted Drewes of St. Louis and Andy's Frozen Custard with locations around the Lake of the Ozarks."

Frozen custard is not really a custard but a kind of ice cream that's made fresh every day. A frozen custard store operates a little differently, says Baker, "Frozen custard is a dessert that's made fresh daily. Typically a frozen custard store will serve vanilla and chocolate. The Vanilla Bean makes a daily selection of vanilla, chocolate, a flavor of the day, and an Italian Ice flavor for those who might not be able to enjoy dairy."

The "treatery" offers customers their own homemade fudge, homemade gourmet popcorn, and a wide variety of espresso drinks, truffles, chocolates and retro candies. The frozen custard menu has a variety of specialty desserts such as the banana split, Belgian Waffle Sundae and the Affogato, which, explains Baker, "is a shot of espresso served over custard and garnished with a cookie and chocolate flake." There's even a kids portion called the Lil' Beanie. The frozen custard features in concretes, floats and malts as well.

Urban legend has it that frozen custard was first invented in Coney Island by an ice cream seller who added eggs to keep the ice cream from melting too quickly. Whatever the truth of that story, frozen custard quickly became a popular favorite along the east coast and then across the Midwest. It differs from ice cream in being a very dense dessert. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifies that frozen custard must have at least 10% butterfat and 1.4% egg yolk.

"The high percentage of butterfat and egg yolk gives frozen custard a thick, creamy texture and a smoother consistency than ice cream," says Baker. Also, "The amount of air, also known as overrun, truly separates frozen custard from traditional ice cream. Traditional ice cream has as much as 100% overrun, which causes ice crystals to form. Frozen custard has 20% overrun or less." Reducing the air gives frozen custard its silky smooth texture.

Like most frozen custard shops, Vanilla Bean makes just three flavors each day: vanilla, chocolate and the flavor of the day, which varies widely and can include pistachio, banana cream pie, lemon meringue, S'mores and others. The flavor of the day is posted on the Facebook page every day.

The store also collaborates on fundraising ideas and techniques utilizing gift cards, fudge or popcorn. For more info feel free to check out their site at www.vanillabeanfrozencustard.com.

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