Frappe drinks like the famous Starbucks Frappuccinos are delicious blended coffee and tea drinks that have become popular menu items at coffee shops, juice bars, and restaurants.
Their creamy, ice cream-like texture comes from using a special frappe base powder or syrup in the recipe.
What Makes Frappes Creamy?
The creamy, smooth texture of a frappe comes from adding an ingredient that emulsifies the drink. Emulsifiers are substances that help bind liquids that don’t normally mix well, like oil and water.
In a frappe, the emulsifier keeps the milk or cream blended with the water from the ice so you get a homogenous, creamy drink that doesn’t separate. Commercial frappe base powders typically contain xanthan gum or another emulsifying agent.
When choosing a substitute, look for ingredients that can act as emulsifiers. The most commonly used are:
- Xanthan gum - A popular food additive made from fermented sugars. Use 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per drink.
- Instant pudding - Contains modified food starch that emulsifies. Use about 2 to 4 Tbsp.
- Gelatin - Makes a good vegan emulsifier. Use 1 to 2 tsp per drink.
- Sweetened condensed milk - Emulsified already so works well in frappes.
- Soft serve ice cream powder - Contains emulsifiers and extra sweetness.
Key Takeaway: Frappe base contains emulsifiers that keep ingredients blended. Xanthan gum or instant pudding work well as substitutes.
Using a powdered milk product is one option for giving your frappe a creamy texture. Dry milk powders mix easily into drinks and naturally have a sweet, milky flavor.
Popular kinds to try are:
- Nonfat dry milk - Made from skim milk. Most widely available.
- Whole milk powder - Provides more fat for richness. Often sold as instant milk powder.
- Buttermilk powder - Tangy flavor works well in fruit frappes.
- Whey protein powder - Very smooth. Can be grainy if cheap quality.
The main downside to milk powders is they don’t contain any emulsifiers on their own. So you’ll need to add a pinch of xanthan gum, instant pudding, or other emulsifier to prevent separation.
Key Takeaway: Milk powders add creaminess but work best paired with an emulsifier.
Tip: For best results, add milk powders before blending and emulsifiers after blending. This prevents gum clumps.
You can replicate some of the texture and sweetness of commercial frappe base using sugary syrups. Two popular options are:
- Simple syrup - Equal parts sugar and water boiled until dissolved. Adds sweetness and slight thickness.
- Sweetened condensed milk - Milk syrup thickened with sugar. Very sweet with emulsion already formed.
Keep in mind both options will make your frappes much sweeter than using an unsweetened powder. If you want to moderate the sweetness, reduce other sugars in your recipe or dilute the syrups with water or plain milk.
And like plain milk powders, sugary syrups benefit from adding a pinch of emulsifier to prevent separation.
Key Takeaway: Simple syrup and sweetened condensed milk make frappes sweeter and thicker.
Soft Serve and Milkshake Mixes
Using a commercial soft serve ice cream or milkshake mix is an easy shortcut for making frappe base from scratch.
These ready-made powder products contain emulsifiers and flavors designed specifically for creating creamy blended frozen drinks. Many also include sweeteners, milk powders, and other stabilizers as well.
Brands like Stirling, Frozen Bean, and ZiegenBatz come in convenient canisters and only require mixing with cold milk or other liquids before freezing and blending. They whip up fast and give reliably thick, creamy frappes every time.
The main downside is you’re limited to certain flavors unless you want to buy multiple mixes. For the widest options, look for a neutral or vanilla flavored base. Then you can add in your own flavors.
Key Takeaway: Commercial soft serve and milkshake mixes work great as ready-made bases.
Commercial Frappe Powders
For coffee shops or frequent frappe drinkers, buying a commercial frappe powder is an easy choice. These powders are formulated specifically for blending creamy frappes and contain emulsifiers and flavors for consistency.
Brands like DaVinci Gourmet, Big Train, and Torani all offer a range of flavored frappe mixes. Look for varieties sold in bulk canisters or single-serve pouches. Just mix with milk and ice for an easy frappe anytime.
The convenience comes at a cost though. Commercial mixes can be pricier than homemade options. And you’re limited to the flavors offered unless you blend your own extra flavors.
Key Takeaway: Bulk or single-serve commercial powders make consistent bases.
How To Make Your Own Frappe Base Powder
Don't want to buy a commercial mix? Here's a simple recipe to make your own blendable frappe base at home:
- 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend until a fine powder.
- Store in an airtight container. Keeps several months at room temperature.
- To use: Mix 2-4 tbsp of base with 1 cup milk and 1 cup ice. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Add instant coffee or cocoa powder for flavored bases.
- Use less xanthan gum if you prefer a thinner texture.
- Substitute different extracts or flavorings to customize.
What can I use if I don't have xanthan gum?
Substitute 2 tbsp instant pudding mix or 1 tbsp softened gelatin per drink. Or try using an already emulsified liquid like sweetened condensed milk.
What's the best milk substitute for dairy-free frappes?
Unsweetened soy, almond, or oat milk all work well. Be sure to include an emulsifier to prevent separation.
Is it possible to make a keto frappe base?
Can I use protein powder as a frappe base?
You can, but the texture may be thinner than commercial bases. Try mixing with xanthan gum or pudding mix for thickness. Avoid gritty protein powders.
What liquids should I use with the base powder?
Most recipes call for mixing base powder with milk or milk alternatives. You can also substitute cream, half-and-half, sweetened condensed milk, or even fruit juice.
Recreating the perfect creamy frappe base used by coffee shops can be tricky. But with the right emulsifiers and thickeners, you can get pretty close at home.
Simple ingredients like xanthan gum, instant pudding, and milk powders make excellent substitutes when blended properly.