California Date Shake Frozen Yogurt

California Date Shake Fro-Yo

Over the past week, Seattle has found itself in the middle of both a record-setting heat wave and a thick haze of smoke. Naturally, these conditions make me nostalgic for my days in southern California. (zing!)

In all seriousness though, I really have been doing some California Dreaming. With summertime in full swing, I’m craving sunshine and avocados, and generally feeling inspired by left coast vibes (the Cowabunga Lifestyle, you know?)

Given this set and setting, I got into the kitchen and combined two beloved regional socal desserts:

  1. Frozen Yogurt. LA gave us a new wave of extra-tart soft-serve, and became the epicenter for fro-yo’s post-millennial renaissance. After Californians got obsessed, the rest of the world did too.
  2. Date Shakes. Sold at roadside shops to desert travelers since the 1920’s, these have become an iconic indulgence of Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley… the ultimate desert dessert!

I ended up with a small-batch quickie recipe, built around a tub of my favorite grass-fed whole milk yogurt. Dates bring a complex, mineral-enhanced, caramel-like, sticky sweetness – enough to avoid the use of any added refined sugars. To keep these two key ingredients from freezing up into an icy block, I recruited another California orchard staple – walnuts! They are rich in fats that help disrupt the frozen matrix of ice crystals, and maintain a soft, scoopable consistency. The signature Date Shake flavor is dialed in with a generous dose of vanilla and just a hint of freshly grated nutmeg.

So, what do you get when you freeze up this exceptionally nutrient-dense, wholesome ingredient list? Something rich, tart, sweet, subtly spiced, and somehow mystically imbued with a sense of sun-drenched adventure – the perfect antidote for even the most hopeless cases of California Dreaming.

California Date Shake Fro-Yo

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California Date Shake Frozen Yogurt

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: ~3 cups

California Date Shake Frozen Yogurt

1/2 cup (50 grams) raw walnut pieces
9 medjool dates (about 120 grams), pitted and halved
1/2 cup milk or almond milk or another nut milk
2 cups whole milk yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small pinch freshly grated nutmeg (6-7 strokes on a microplane grater)

Add the walnuts to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until finely ground.

Heat the milk/nut-milk in a microwave or in a small saucepan until hot and steamy. Add the dates to the food processor with the walnuts and pour over the hot milk. Cover and allow the dates to soften for about 10 minutes.

After they soften, blend the dates and walnuts to a slightly chunky puree. Stir this mixture together with the yogurt, vanilla extract, and nutmeg.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker to freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. After the mixture has completed churning, it will be a soft-serve consistency. You can eat it this way, or transfer to the freezer to chill for a few hours longer until firm.

4 thoughts on “California Date Shake Frozen Yogurt”

  1. Hi Mary! This looks and sounds so yummy! I feel like having frozen yogurt right now!

    I — and everyone in San Diego — misses you!

    Take care.


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