What is it about summer that makes us crave ice cream? And in Wisconsin, what is it that makes us crave not just ice cream, but Michael’s Frozen Custard ice cream?
Michael’s Frozen Custard, which now boasts 4 locations throughout the Madison/Verona area, has been around since 1986. Initially opened by Michael Dix and John Kuehl, Michael’s has seen many years of business and served even more tasty frozen custard treats. Michael’s even distributes pints of its frozen custard to over 80 markets around Wisconsin.
For those who may not know, frozen custard looks like ice cream but has several key differences. For starters, eggs, in addition to cream and sugar, are added to make frozen custard. This results in a product that has 1.4% egg yolk. Then, through a churning process called overrun, the custard is blended with air until its volume increases by about 20%. In comparison, ice cream could have an overrun of as much as 100% (meaning half the product is air).
Frozen custard is also frozen differently than ice cream. After being made, custard enters a refrigerated tube. Large blades in the tube will scrape the custard a few times, after which it is dispensed immediately into serving containers. Ice cream, on the other hand, is churned much longer, resulting in a colder product that has larger ice crystals.
Because frozen custard has more butterfat and egg yolk by volume, and because it has not been frozen for a longer time or at colder temperatures, it will have a thicker and creamier texture than ice cream, and also a softer consistency. Frozen custard is typically served at -8 degrees C (18 degrees F), versus -12 degrees C (10 degrees F) for ice cream.
What does this all mean? Because custard is more dense and served warmer, and because it has egg yolk, it has a creamier taste that typical ice cream. Frozen custard also seems to be the exclusive specialty of Wisconsin-based shops like Michael’s Frozen Custard.
Michael’s serves its frozen custard in the usual flavors of chocolate and vanilla, and it will also mix a “flavor of the day”. Flavors change on a monthly schedule, and will include such tastes as Cake Roll, Mint Oreo, Banana, Grasshopper Pie, Strawberries ‘n Cream, Butter Pecan, and one of my favorites, Espresso.
One can also buy sundaes that are made with frozen custard, such as the Death by Chocolate (made with chocolate custard, hot fudge, and Oreos), the Peanut Butter Cup (made with vanilla custard, peanut butter, and rich chocolate), and the Tropical Paradise (made with vanilla custard, pineapple, banana, and strawberry). There are frozen custard shakes, and frozen custard malts. If you are looking for something else besides frozen custard, never fear, Michael’s also offers burgers, salads, hot dogs, brats, and French fries. And you can even get your own root beer float, made with Sprecher root beer and topped with frozen custard.
As you can see from my photos, I showed up at the Michael’s Frozen Custard location in Verona, while the place was serving its flavor of the day, Espresso. I had never had this flavor before, so I ordered it. The frozen custard had a wonderful coffee flavor to it, and was of course rich and creamy as always (and about 500 calories!).
Here is some more information about Michael’s Frozen Custard:
In Madison: 2531 Monroe Street, (608) 231-3500; 5602 Schroeder Road, (608) 276-8100; 3826 Atwood Avenue, (608) 222-4110
In Verona: 407 West Verona Avenue, (608) 845-8887