Erie residents love frozen desserts, especially during the hot summer months. Ice cream is definitely a favorite and there are plenty of stands in the area to satisfy that craving, but mixed in with those are a few who sell a much richer, decadent treat; frozen custard. The difference between ice cream and custard may seem like just a few ingredients, but, in reality, they are very different. Custard gets its rich and creamy texture from a higher amount of milk fat as well as the addition of more egg yolks. Most custard is thick in comparison to ice cream and is wonderfully smooth. Also, the temperature and speed at which the custard is produced minimizes the amount of air in the mixture as well as the amount of ice crystals that form. The poll this week ended up being so close that I decided to try all three locations.
The first stop was Hank’s Frozen Custard in Conneaut Lake. Located at 13940 Conneaut Lake Rd, Hank’s has been open since June of 1952 and it still uses the original custard machines today. Every day, they offer chocolate and vanilla custard as well as a daily flavor. Monday is Butterscotch, Tuesday the shop is closed, Wednesday is Peanut Butter, Thursday is Black Raspberry, Friday is a mystery flavor that changes every week, Saturday is Banana, and Sunday is Strawberry. They also have a list of sherbet flavors that run at random. From cups to cones and shakes to sundaes, there are plenty of options to choose from. As you order and wait for your dessert, you can watch the fresh custard come out of the machines into the chilled tanks below them. Amanda ordered the Caramel Apple Pie Sundae and I ordered the Dusty Road Sundae. The Caramel Apple Pie Sundae started with a layer of spiced apple pie filling that was then topped with a large scoop of vanilla custard. It was finished off with warm, extra-gooey caramel sauce and tons of crumbled graham crackers. My Dusty Road Sundae was made with the same vanilla custard topped with hot fudge (you have the option of that or chocolate sauce) and a thick layer of malted milk powder.
Our second stop was Castle Custard at 7354 West Lake Road in Fairview. The custard served here is also homemade and is every bit as rich, creamy, and silky smooth, but it is a lot more dense; I would guess that comes from it being packed into containers before it’s served instead of being served right out of the machines. Castle Custard doesn’t have a set daily flavor schedule, but they do have the standard chocolate and vanilla as well as whatever other daily flavors they feel like serving. The two ladies working at the counter informed me of how delicious and popular their butter pecan custard is, so that was my obvious choice. Amanda chose a more traditional route and got a scoop of vanilla custard topped with hot fudge. The vanilla custard by itself is absolutely incredible; its flavor is really delicious. And when it was combined with hot fudge, like on Amanda’s sundae, it was a match made in heaven. Every bite of my butter pecan was filled with the fresh chopped nuts and the custard was rich and even more buttery than the vanilla. If you’re not sure how to judge good custard, you can tell from its taste and texture; it should be very dense, rich, and silky smooth. The custard we had at Castle Custard really fit the bill.
Finally, we tried Mr. Shiver’s Custard Treats at 11213 Trask Rd in Waterford. This small shop also sells Smith’s hot dogs, burgers, and a few other food items in addition to their frozen desserts. If you’ve never heard of Mr. Shivers, that could be because until recently, it operated under a different name, Tee-Jay’s. Because I chose sundaes at both of the other places, I decided to try their “Dirt” sundae and Amanda ordered a vanilla cone with rainbow jimmies. My sundae started with vanilla custard and was then topped with crushed Oreos and a few gummi worms. Although the desserts were good, I found out that it isn’t real custard, but soft serve ice cream from Perry’s Ice Cream. I don’t want to take anything away from Perry’s or Mr. Shivers, because both treats were still very delicious, but if it’s custard you’re looking for, this might not satisfy your craving.
That’s a wrap for my second tour of summer foods, so make sure to send me your recommendations on what my next food type should be to email@example.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook. Remember to come back and vote as well.Until next time,
Andrew — Beard vs. Food