Killing Me Softly with Soft Serve Ice Cream.


When I think of soft serve, immediately McDonald’s comes to mind. Chocolate and plain vanilla.

Were they the first to serve this?

There are many independent start-ups and hipster cafes these days selling soft serve ice cream and touting them to be the best. But these delectable dairy treats cost a limb (at least RM10.00 per cone or cup) if you paid for one there!

But McDonald’s? In Malaysia, it’s RM1.00 (USD $0.25, GBP £0.19 and AUD $0.33, according to the XE Currency Converter). They’re having a Ramadhan special now at RM2.00 for cendol-flavoured soft serve ice cream. You do the math.

My husband and I were in Port Dickson last week, and had McDonald’s for lunch. I had seen the Ramadhan special cendol-flavoured soft serve ice cream online earlier and I wanted to try it. It was twice the price of the original vanilla or chocolate at McDonald’s but it was still cheaper than a hipster cafe.

One lick of that and I was hooked. For good.

After our much-needed grocery shopping yesterday, we stopped at a shop in the Atria Shopping Mall opposite the information counter. The shop sold durian- and sour sop-filled cream puffs, and had durian soft serve ice cream on the menu. I had been craving for soft serve since returning from Port Dickson and now was my chance to satisfy that craving. And I did. It was the best dessert ever!

But here I am wondering, what’s all the hype surrounding soft serve anyway? When I was a teen, I’ve never heard of soft serve. To me, all ice cream came in the form of frozen dairy treats (lollies or popsicles) or made with milk and cream (with other additional ingredients for flavours). At one point, I even thought soft serve ice cream was frozen yogurt! Froyo or frogurt, as some like to call it.

What is soft serve ice cream?

According to Wikipedia:

Soft serve is a type of ice cream with a fluffy texture and is less dense than regular ice cream, as a result of air being introduced during the freezing process. Regular ice cream is frozen immediately to avoid crystallisation. With soft serve, this is accomplished by using a special machine that holds pre-mixed product at a very low but non-frozen temperature, usually at the point of sale. Soft serve ice cream is a common choice of dessert at fun fairs, carnivals, amusement parts, restaurants (especially fast food like McDonald’s and buffet), as well as specialty shops (or hipster cafes, as I like to call them).

Knowing this somehow makes soft serve feel kind of special, don’t you think? Like they are a unique type of ice cream and therefore, hold a higher regard than the regular ice cream. Or maybe it’s just my stomach doing the talking.

And then I thought, okay so there’s that. But what is the difference, then, between soft serve and regular ice cream?

Soft Serve Ice Cream vs. Regular Ice Cream

According to Alto-Hartley, there are three stages that differentiate the manufacturing of soft serve and regular ice creams. They go by ingredients, production and delivery. I’ll give you a breakdown of the ingredients and the rest can be found on their website:

Standard ingredients for regular ice cream include at least 10% milkfat and 20% cream. Corn syrup or or sugar, air and non-fat milk solids like proteins are also added into the mixture. Regular ice cream is more likely to contain other flavourings as well, such as pieces of chocolate, fruit, nuts, and other sweets.

Soft serve ice cream, on the other hand, has less milkfat, often between 3% and 6%. The amount of air included is what sets soft serve apart from their regular counterpart, as the higher air content is the key to having a lighter and fluffier texture. The ideal amount of air content is said to be between 33% and 45%.

So far, the cendol-flavoured soft serve ice cream from McDonald’s feels better than the durian-flavoured one at the Atria Shopping Mall. The former probably has more air content as it feels lighter and fluffier, compared to the latter which feels denser, heavier and seemed to weigh down in my hand as I gleefully devoured it today.

After this, I won’t blame you for wanting a soft serve. I’m writing this post now and I’ve already had my share today, but the power of suggestion is tangling with my conscience again. Suddenly, I feel like having the cendol cone from McDonald’s. Should I go out for one at 1:30am in the morning now?

If you want some, you can get your share at one of these places in Damansara Uptown:

Or Honey Creme Soft Serve in Desa Sri Hartamas.

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