Copycat Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
If you come to St. Louis and it’s not the dead of winter, chances are high that you will make a stop at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. It’s an iconic Route 66 institution known for its “concretes” – vanilla frozen custard blended with mix-ins, served so thick that you can turn your cup upside-down without the frozen custard falling out. Ted Drewes is one of those places that ex-St. Louisans miss the most and rush to visit as soon as they make it back to town.
I’m so excited to have created a copycat Ted Drewes Frozen Custard recipe that tastes crazy close to the original. This recipe can stave off frozen custard cravings and can give those who haven’t had the opportunity to visit St. Louis a refreshing taste of our hometown!
Ingredients and Equipment
I’ve been told over the years that Ted Drewes uses honey as a sweetener. My first attempt at a copycat version used 1/3 cup of honey and 2/3 cup of sugar. The result was delicious, but didn’t taste like Ted Drewes (I know because I sent Jonathan to pick some up for a side-by-side comparison). The honey flavor in my version was WAY too strong. My final version ended up with just 3 tablespoons of honey to about 3/4 cup of sugar. There’s definitely honey in the original, but not as much as some might think.
You will also need a candy thermometer because temperature is really important in this recipe.
This recipe does require an ice cream maker. I love this one with a built-in compressor. (If you don’t have one, now is a great time to start planning that Christmas list!)
For the true Ted Drewes experience, it’s important to blend mix-ins into your custard (think Dairy Queen Blizzards) and to serve the frozen custard at the correct temperature. I found that an immersion blender worked best to incorporate the mix-ins. But, if you don’t have one, you could use a regular counter-top blender.
How It’s Made
Plain Frozen Custard
To begin, whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the milk in a small bowl until the mixture is completely smooth.
In a saucepan, whisk the remaining milk, sugar, honey, and salt, and then add the cornstarch slurry you just made.
Heat on medium-high heat until the liquid begins to bubble, then remove it from the stove.
Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl, and then slowly add about 1/2 of the hot milk mixture in. Continue whisking the entire time.
Tip: Adding the hot milk slowly is important; if you add it too quickly, you will end up with a scrambled egg mixture and you’ll have to start over.
Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat until it reaches 170 F, about 5 minutes, stirring the entire time. It’s important to use a candy thermometer here; you do not want the liquid to boil!
Remove from the heat and mix in heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract.
Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (making sure to press the plastic wrap right against the surface of the custard), and refrigerate until cold – at least four hours.
Once completely cool, use your ice cream maker to churn the ice cream. If you’re not adding mix-ins, go ahead and serve it and skip the rest of these instructions.
If you’re planning to add Oreos, chocolate chips, cherries, or anything else, you’re going to want to put the plain custard into the freezer to harden.
When you’re almost ready to serve, incorporate the mix-ins by blending them with the frozen custard using an immersion blender or countertop blender. For the authentic experience, serve in a large paper cup (I got mine from Sucre Shop) and invert to show off its thickness to your guests!
Tip: If the frozen custard is too soft after adding mix-ins, return it to the freezer for five minutes just before serving.
Expert Tips and FAQs
Classic mix-ins are fruit, Oreos, chocolate chips, cookies, brownies, and nuts, and peanut butter cups. Seasonal favorite additions include apple pie and pumpkin pie. I enjoy the contrasting texture when you add something in that doesn’t blend smoothly.
Freezing it first should give you the perfect texture and temperature right after blending – soft but not soupy. If the custard gets too warm after blending, just pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes before serving.
Copycat Ted Drewes Frozen Custard Recipe
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 3/4 cups whole milk
- 13 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- pinch salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- mix-ins e.g. chocolate chips, caramel sauce, Oreo cookies, nuts, fruit, fudge, to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the milk until smooth.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together remaining 1 1/4 cups milk, sugar, honey, and salt.
- Whisk in the milk and cornstarch mixture.
- Heat on medium high heat until it begins to bubble but isn’t quite boiling.
- Whisk egg yolks in large bowl.
- Whisking rapidly and pouring very slowly, add about 1/2 of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks. If you add too much hot liquid at once to the egg yolks, you risk cooking them.
- Pour the egg yolks plus milk mixture back into the pot and place on medium heat until it reaches 170 F (this should take about 5 minutes), stirring the whole time. It is very important that the liquid not boil as that will cause it to curdle.
- Remove from heat, transfer into a bowl, and mix in heavy whipping cream and vanilla.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap right up against the custard, and refrigerate for at least four hours.
- Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If you don't plan to add any mix-ins, you can eat it right away. However, if you plan to turn it into a concrete (which you should definitely do), freeze the custard for a couple of hours to harden it. Blending in the mix-ins will make the frozen custard softer, so starting with a harder custard will get you to the right consistency in the end.
- Just before serving, use an immersion blender or counter-top blender to add your mix-ins.
- If it's a little too soft after blending, return to the freezer for just five minutes and then eat! If you want an authentic experience, make your friends and family stand in a long line before serving.
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