Date shakes are good. I mean, seriously good. A week ago, Bob and I slipped out of town to Palm Springs to meet some friends. It had been more than 20 years since I was last there. Memories of road trips to Palm Springs were on my mind, taken with my friend Rebecca during our years of living together in Los Angeles. The two of us would bop into town, shop for howling coyote- and cactus-themed tchotchkes for our apartment, spend the afternoons by the pool with frosty cocktails, and then gobble Mexican food at our favorite little hole-in-the-wall spot.
A trip to Palm Springs was never complete, though, without a stop along the way for date shakes at Hadley Fruit Orchards. Date shakes are synonymous with Palm Springs, given all the date palms that grow in the surrounding Coachella Valley. According to California legend, the date shake was invented in the 1930s by a local date farmer. I hadn’t thought of date shakes in many years, and during our whirlwind visit I developed an intense craving.
There are many varieties of dates and Hadley’s uses deglet noor. These also happen to be my favorite dates, with their irresistible soft, sticky, caramel sweetness. Vanilla ice cream, milk and dates are the classic date shake ingredients. Lately, though, we’ve been devouring pints of coconut milk ice cream, so I decided to use a vanilla flavored one along with coconut milk for my date shake. After chopping the dates, I blended them with coconut milk until they were almost smooth and then added the coconut ice cream.
Oh my. Luscious, rich, creamy and filled with sweet dates, this shake is heavenly and truly a blast of nostalgic taste for me. Today, there was an afternoon break in our April showers, so after whirling one up I was able to steal outside and sip my shake in the sun. Granted, this wasn’t the hot sunshine of Palm Springs (last week was 90 degrees!), but I popped in a festive little umbrella and pretended I was sitting under a palm tree in the desert. Life is good.
Coconut Date Shake
Serves 2-3 (it's rich!)
1 1/2 cups deglet noor dates, pitted and roughly chopped (medjool dates can be substituted)
1 cup whole coconut milk
1 cup vanilla coconut milk ice cream (we’re quite fond of Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss)
In a blender, whirl the dates and coconut milk together until fairly smooth. Add the ice cream and blend until creamy. Pour into glasses and serve. The shake is thick, so a spoon may be needed, as well.