Trio of milkshakes steal show at Allium at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

July 26, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Scott Gerken gets a lot of leeway as the pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel. Several of his creations show up on the menu at Allium, the restaurant tucked way back beyond the lobby on the 7th floor. This time of year, a trio of milkshakes are stealing the show.

"We try to look for unique combinations, things that people wouldn't necessarily see as items that would go together and then we play around with those items," said Gerken.

One result is a miso-butterscotch shake. He starts by whisking up brown sugar and melted butter; then adding heavy cream, some pure vanilla extract and a cup or so of blond miso paste, which adds a salty, well-rounded dose of umami to the shake. Once the mixture is heated and combined, it's added to a blender with a few scoops of Homer's vanilla ice cream and then quickly combined by the powerful blades; no extra milk necessary. It's topped off with some fresh whipped cream, adding a final note of richness. The combo of sweet and salty is akin to a salted caramel, only better.

"They're two opposite ingredients but they work really well with that dessert," Gerken said.

In his Bananas Foster shake, caramel sauce is blended up with a banana and more of that vanilla ice cream. Another half of banana is coated in sugar then caramelized with a torch, giving it a sweet crust. At the table, rum is set aflame, then poured over the top of the shake, until the alcohol burns off.

Gerken also makes a deep, dark shake from 99% chocolate, which results in a cocoa-heavy blend that hits every chocoholics' nerve center. If the shakes seem too rich, you could always opt for a refreshing blood orange sorbet, which is one of the best ways to end a meal, without the guilt.

"You're always looking for a balance with any dessert; you want the textures, you want the different combinations of flavor: salt, sour, sweet and I think they work well," he said.

Flavors may rotate on occasion, but you can be sure the miso-butterscotch and chocolate aren't going anywhere this summer.

The Four Seasons
120 E. Delaware Pl.

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