I received an email from my friends Erik and Amber (happy almost-wedding-day, you two!) asking me the following:
I am thinking that "someone" needs to publish a recipe for the Heart Attack Grill Milkshakes that you can make at home with easily purchased items... Are you that "someone"?
Well, yes and no. You see, the problem with trying to make HAG style ice cream (because let's face it, their 'shakes' are really just huge cups of soft serve) is nailing the butterfat content, which is nearly impossible to do in the average kitchen.
HAG hired a food science company to develop a proprietary ice cream base that approaches the butter-making threshold. What I mean by that is this - at 31% butterfat, that base will churn - inside the ice cream maker - into butter (a nasty, grossly sweet butter) and buttermilk (true buttermilk, not the cultured stuff you buy in the store). HAG's base is specially made for them at 30.5% butterfat.
Now, I know you are thinking, "Well, can't we just mix some combination of milk and heavy whipping cream to make our own 30.5% butterfat base?" Yes, yes we could - if we know PRECISELY how much butterfat was in each of our chosen dairy products. Unfortunately, of the dairy products commonly available, our only choices are half-n-half , whipping cream, and heavy whipping cream. Yes, all these dairy products have federally mandated butterfat content requirements, but they are ranges, not hard and fast percentages. Half-n-half has 10-18%, whipping cream has 30-42%, and heavy whipping cream has 43-54%. You can see, given these ranges, how easy it can be to accidentally go over the crucial 31% threshold.
All that being said, there are two major things that can work in our (the home cook's) favor in making a rich HAG-LIKE ice cream; the first is that home ice cream makers are good at making low-overrun products (less-than-usual amounts of air whipped into the ice cream) and the fact that store-bought ultra premium ice creams usually max out in the 15-18% butterfat range.
With that in mind, the HAG-style substitution is relatively easy - using your favorite ice cream recipe, in place of the dairy called for use half half-n-half and half regular (NOT heavy) whipping cream. This will result in an ice cream base of AT LEAST 20% but NO MORE than 30%. The resulting home-made ice cream will be noticeably more buttery than mass-produced premium ice creams, and may approach an HAG level of buttery goodness.
Erik and Amber replied with their favorite ice cream recipes, which are pretty darn close to the ‘perfect’ formula.
A&E Chocolate Ice Cream
2 quarts half and half
2 cans Hershey's chocolate syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
Amber's Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (that she created yesterday, btw)
4 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cup half and half
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of vanilla
mint to taste
Add chocolate chips after ice cream is frozen while transferring to storage container.
In case you need more directions, stir or blend all your ingredients together (except for mix-ins, like chocolate chips) until smooth, then chill the mix a few hours or overnight until it’s as cold as your fridge can get it. Now all that's left is to pour it into your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions, and churn until you’ve got soft-serve ice cream. If you stop the churning as soon as soft-serve is reached, you’ll have the creamiest, butteriest ice cream – if you let it keep churning, all you’re doing is whipping in more air, so stay close and keep an eye on it.