Hey, baby. Fancy a date shake?
No, it’s not the newest dance craze, and it’s not something you do when you’re frustrated with your boyfriend. Date shakes, or date milkshakes, for the very particular, are a specialty of the Palm Springs area in southern California, where many of the state’s dates are grown.
They sound a little strange, but they’re actually fabulous. Dates are blended with ice cream to produce a rich, creamy milkshake with a deep vanilla-honey taste. If you can imagine a milkshake version of caramel sauce, the taste is pretty similar. Have I got your packing your bags for a Palm Springs roadtrip yet?
Not so fast! Thanks to the magic of the internet, you don’t have to drive to Palm Springs this summer to enjoy a thick, rich date shake. Just pick up a pound or two of Medjool dates, get your favorite ice cream, and start your blender revving…it’s date shake time.
yield: 2 large or 4 small date shakes
- 1 generous cup Medjool dates
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups quality ice cream, vanilla or similar mild flavor
- A blender
Before we get to the (ridiculously easy) recipe let me take a moment and rhapsodize about these Medjool dates. My mom used to use the phrase “nature’s candy” to describe fresh or dried fruit, in a futile attempt to get me to think that eating fruit was as exciting as eating other sweets. Well, it took me a few decades, but I’ve finally come to agree with her. These dates are just as sweet, just as chewy, and even more delicious than many other candies. Plus, they’re not full of white sugar or corn syrup! They’re an excellent pre-workout snack and a wonderful addition to muffins, quick breads…and milkshakes.
Rhapsody over. Let’s get to milkshaking.
Much like a box of cereal, dates have a surprise inside! But unlike the prize in a cereal box, you don’t particularly want to stumble on these prizes unaware. Each date has a hard pit in the center that will need to be removed before we can blend them. So cut each date in half, and pull out the pits and discard them.
After the pits are removed, coarsely chop the date halves. The blender will be doing most of the work, but you want to chop them a bit so that they blend faster and more evenly.
Speaking of blenders, the time has come to get yours out! Add your dates to the blender along with the milk and the vanilla extract.
Blend the dates and milk together on high speed for about a minute, scraping down the sides and the blades as necessary to help everything come together. If it really seems too thick you can add a little more milk, a tablespoon at a time, but try to avoid making it too thin, since you’ll want a thick base to make a thick milkshake.
When your date-milk mixture is well-blended, it should look something like this: the dates have liquefied, and there are no large chunks of skin visible anywhere. It should be an almost-smooth paste.
Now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for: adding the ice cream! I recommend you either use vanilla, or something that’s fairly mild and won’t overwhelm the date flavor. I decided to go with a vanilla ice cream with a caramel swirl, since the dates have a honeyed-caramel taste of their own and I thought they would pair nicely. So add your scoops of cold ice cream, and blend until it’s completely incorporated and you have a thick shake.
Give it a taste (or two!) to check the texture, then blend in additional milk or ice cream until the texture is perfectly suited to your taste.
Pour the milkshakes into two large glasses or four small ones…
…and top with a generous dollop of whipped cream. These date shakes are so rich, and so refreshing, you’ll be making them all summer long…no roadtrip required.
All text and images (c) Elizabeth LaBau