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News / Life / Food

Spring milkshakes don’t have to be green

By Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Published: March 15, 2023, 6:04am

Tall, tender stalks of asparagus bound with purple rubber bands. Nosegays of crunchy watercress. Salads made with fresh, peppery arugula and baby spinach instead of iceberg lettuce.

If it’s spring, it’s got to be green. How better to shake off the winter blues and look forward to the promise of warmer, sunny days?

That lean toward green extends to sweet treats. Every year about this time, and maybe even earlier for its most rabid fans, the countdown begins: When will McDonald’s trot out its cool and minty Shamrock Shake?

First introduced by the burger chain in 1970, the bright green drink — which originally was lemon-lime-flavored — enjoys what can only be described as cult status. It’s so popular with its fans that McDonald’s this year is introducing an official Shamrock Shake Finder app for smartphones so you never have to go without it. Until it disappears after St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, that is.

We say, the Shamrock Shake isn’t the only shake worth sinking a straw into in spring. There’s a rainbow of colors and flavors that speak to the season.

You don’t need a ton of ingredients to make a milkshake that delivers big on taste. When asked for a good spring milkshake recipe, Katie Heldstab of Leona’s Ice Cream suggested this quick and simple pairing: 8 ounces of Leona’s Lavender and Honeycomb ice cream blended with 2 ounces of milk. She also loves a shake made with Leona’s organic Toasted Coconut ice cream and cold coffee.

“I’m not sure how spring-like that is, but it’s so darn tasty,” she says.

But we’re looking for shakes that embody the pastel hues associated with Easter and soon-to-bloom spring flowers, and instead decided to mix up some colorful fruit-flavored shakes.

Citrus is still widely available through the end of March. Why not trade the (artificial) mint flavor of a Shamrock Shake for the sunny, bright taste of oranges? French vanilla ice cream blended with orange sherbet, fresh-squeezed orange juice and milk results in a shake that tastes exactly like Popsicle’s Creamsicle cream bars — smooth and creamy, with a delicate orange-meets-vanilla bean flavor.

California strawberries also are an easy market find this time of year and very often a sale item. True, they’re not near as sweet as a local fruit, but they’re a kid magnet, and the color can’t help but cheer you up when it’s dreary outside from all the spring rain. Blend equal parts strawberry ice cream and strawberry sorbet with milk, chopped berries and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and you’ll be instantly transported to your happy place.

And if you’re thirsting for a shake the color of sunshine? Reach for the humble banana. You no doubt always have a bunch sitting on your kitchen table. Blended with vanilla ice cream and a pinch of cinnamon sugar and a splash of vanilla, it’s the easiest shake ever and a terrific way to sneak some fiber and potassium into your diet.

Shake it up

Got your blender ready? Here are some tips on making the perfect shake:

  • Start with a chilled glass. It’ll keep your shake colder longer.
  • The ice cream should be soft but not so melty that you can’t distinguish it from the milk. Think soft-serve instead of hand-dipped.
  • Conversely, the ice cream shouldn’t be overly cold. That will make it hard, which means you’ll have to add more milk to thin it.
  • Process the ice cream/sherbet and flavors with the blender running on the lowest speed. Add the milk slowly — which will allow you to stop and check the thickness.
  • Save your ice cubes for making smoothies. They’ll dilute your milkshake and make it taste less creamy.
  • Taste before pouring into the glass to see if you need to adjust the flavoring. Do you really want your orange shake to taste like vanilla?
  • Don’t have milk or can’t tolerate it? Substitute soy, rice or almond milk or cooled chai latte (for a spicy taste).
  • Embrace a big finish. Pile on the whipped cream, garnish with fruit, reach for some sprinkles and don’t forget a pretty straw. You’re going to want to savor the drink by sipping it slowly. Save the big gulp for a soda at 7-Eleven.

Orange Creamsicle Milkshake

Makes 1 milkshake. Gretchen McKay

This tastes just like the frozen orange cream bars of your childhood. Sherbet makes it extra creamy. For a boozy version, add 2 ounces of vodka.

1 cup French vanilla ice cream, softened

1 cup orange sherbet, softened

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 orange slices and fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Add all ingredients to blender and mix on low until thoroughly combined. Pour into serving glass and garnish with orange slices.

Stupendous Strawberry Shake

Serves 1 to 2. Adapted from “Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes” by Adam Ried

Strawberry jam and fresh, chopped fruit give this shake an extra jolt of strawberry flavor.

1/2 cup cold whole or low-fat milk

2 tablespoons strawberry jam or preserves

1/4 cup diced fresh strawberries

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 medium scoops strawberry ice cream (about 1 pint), softened until just melty at the edges

4 medium scoops strawberry sorbet (about 1 pint), softened until just melty at the edges

Place milk, jam, strawberry and lemon juice in a blender and blend to mix thoroughly, about 15 seconds. Add ice cream and sorbet; pulse a few times to begin breaking them up. Mash the mixture down (with motor off) with a spatula. Continue pulsing, stopping and mashing until the mixture is well-blended, thick and moves easily in the blender jar, roughly 30 to 60 seconds. Pour into a chilled glasses, and serve at once.

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Yellow Banana Blast Milkshake

Serves 1. Oster.com

Bananas are always in season, and a great way to add fiber to your diet.

1 cup vanilla ice cream

11/2 bananas, fresh or frozen

1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

11/2 cups whole milk

3 drops yellow food coloring (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in your blender jar and blend for about 30 seconds on high. Serve your yellow banana milkshake with a banana garnish poking out of the top.