Warning: I'm about to go a little bit fangirl. I am a HUGE fan of America's Test Kitchen--the TV show, the books, the magazine, all of it. And of all the members on that team of recipe writers, equipment testers and tasters, Adam Ried is my favorite. If there were an Adam Reid jersey, I'd wear it. Adam Ried trading cards? Yup. Bobblehead? Absolutely.
Adam Ried is the equipment specialist of America's Test Kitchen, and gives reviews of various cooking gadgets--good and bad--in each show. He's confident and witty, and gives host Christopher Kimball a hard time whenever he can. He makes a very dry topic pretty entertaining. Ried contributes to the ATK magazine and cookbooks, in addition to the Boston Globe. And now he has a new cookbook, Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes.
I know what you're thinking. My admiration for Adam Ried is muddying the fact that you don't really need a cookbook for milkshakes. You know who you're dealing with, right? I'm the same person who liked the grilled cheese cookbook. From the right author, any dish can be improved upon. I'd even argue that with the most simple dishes--such as grilled cheese and milkshakes--we take for granted that we know how to make them, yet they can be vastly improved from the same old way we've made them all these years.
So lets talk about this cookbook. Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes includes 100 recipes for the thick and frosty treats. There are recipes for fresh fig shakes, mocha cardamom shakes, a chocolate Guinness shake, and more. The thing I love about this book though is how much information Ried manages to pack between the covers.
The introduction includes Ried's "building blocks" for making better milkshakes. He likes ingredients such as sorbets, for their concentrated flavor, cultured dairy products, nut and fruit butters, jams, juice concentrates, and spices and herbs. There is a brief history of the milkshake, and of course an extensive overview of the equipment you'll need for making milkshakes.
Throughout each chapter, Ried continues to provide information about various ice cream treats and milkshake ingredients, like Horlicks malted milk powder, concretes--a kind of Blizzard made from custard and various mix-ins--and egg creams. Recipe headnotes are longer and more informative than half the cookbooks on the market. They include information about cultural influences, recipe origins, or the methods Ried used to create and improve each recipe.
Most recipes in this book are obviously for milkshakes, but Ried has also includes a handful of other frozen drinks from around the world. There are chilados from Colombia--shaved ice topped with fruit syrup, fresh fruit and sweetened condensed milk; batidos from the Caribbean--fresh fruit smoothies blended with milk and ice; licuados--fruit slushies from Mexico; and yogurt drinks, or lassis, from India and the Middle East.
I'll admit that you do not need a milkshake cookbook. If you enjoy thin milkshakes with lackluster flavor and inconsistent texture, do not buy this cookbook. I'll be over here sipping on a thick and flavorful pineapple, ginger and lime milkshake. And watching America's Test Kitchen reruns.