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:
- 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.
- 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.