I grew up in Southern California. Better known as SoCal to us locals. Nothing was more iconic in my California life than the Date Shake. My summers were spent on the sun-soaked beaches between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. During the winter months, when the weather was too cold at the beach, we would hop out to the Palm Springs desert area in the Coachella Valley. Where date farms are king.
There are a few Date Shake stops that were always on a SoCal local’s list. Two were Shields or Hadley’s just outside of Palm Spring. And the other was the Date Shack on Highway 1 between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. We drunk gallons of this iconic SoCal shake. Fast forward and these iconic places still exist. Although the Date Shack is now, Crystal Cove Ruby’s Shake Shack.
For hundreds of years, dates mixed with sheep-milk has been known as an Arabic drink. So how did this similar drink become a drink of the Southern California natives? Legend has it the first date palms were planted by Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries around 1769 in San Diego, California. But due to the damp climate they died out. But in 1928, Russ Nichols brought date trees and the Date Shake to the SoCal desert valley Coachella. He opened a roadside shack that offered malts and milkshakes with these dates. And the Southern California date shake was born.
A classic Date Shake has a creamy caramel flavor. With a slightly lumpy texture. And generations have continued to consume this iconic drink.
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The California Date Shake
- ½ cup Medjool dates, pitted (approx. 4-5) (118 ml)
- Pinch of ground cinnamon or nutmeg
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 ¼ cup vanilla ice cream (French vanilla is the best) (295 ml)
- ¼ cold milk (59 ml)
- ½ cup hot water (118 ml)
- ¾ cup ice (177 ml), optional
- Pit and coarsely chop the dates. Note that Medjool are the best for these shakes. Others have thicker skins. It is pronounced Med-jewel.
- Heat water in the microwave. Do not use hot water from the tap. Hot tap water should never be used in cooking. It comes from the hot water heater. Which can be nasty. See my video on it.
- Place dates in a small bowl and add ½ cup hot water to cover. Soak dates for 10 minutes to soften.
- In a blender, blend dates, cinnamon or nutmeg, salt and milk until smooth and very frothy. It should look like a paste. Add more milk if you desire a thinner shake.
- Add ice cream and ice (if desired). Pulse a few times, until just blended.
- Makes 1 glass.
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Shalom Jacobovitz [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2010_mavericks_competition.jpg, Retrieved 22 April 2019.
ORGANIChouse [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%C5%9Awie%C5%BCy_daktyl_MEDJOOL.jpg, Retrieved 3 May 2019.
Date Palm Grove, Coachella Valley, Southern California, Boston Public Library, No known restrictions, https://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/7535831972, Retrieved 3 May 2019.
File:29 Palms Sign.jpg, Toglenn [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:29_Palms_Sign.jpg, Retrieved 3 May 2019.
The Date Palm, Pasadena, California, Public Domain, Retrieved 3 May 2019.
South front of Mission San Gabriel with palm trees, public domain, Retrieved 3 May 2019.
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