I’ve written before about my tendency to fall in love with a particular dish from a particular restaurant and then dream of it constantly until I can have it again. If only I didn’t have such expensive taste, though… the obsession I developed with Cafe Gratitude’s $9 (formerly $12!) raw mint milkshakes (the “I Am Cool” – everything there is named with an affirmation) meant I had to make a choice between satisfying my gluttony or avoiding bankruptcy. (I chose avoiding bankruptcy – I’m headed there well enough on my own right now, thank you very much, without any ten-dollar milkshakes helping me a long.) But these milkshakes are really, really good; I hadn’t had one in a many months but I fantasized about them still.
So when my sainted mother gave me the Best Present Ever, aka my Vitamix blender, I knew I had to take my shot at recreating this particular fantasy food. All the vegans have been abuzz over Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss “ice cream,” so I decided to try using that as my base. Cafe Gratitude uses their house-made nut-based ice cream, and they’ve just come out with a retail version made from nuts and coconut milk, so hopefully I’ll be able to try that soon as well. I got a huge bunch of mint from the farmer’s market and I started experimenting. This was a good experiment. I was very happy to contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge in the arena of mint chocolate milkshakes.
Some recipes (including CG’s) add a handful of spinach or some spirulina to give the milkshakes that classic green tint. I don’t really care what color my shake is, though, and it’s another ingredient to have to buy. The idea here was to see if I could create a high-quality, low-cost milkshake; I think the shake is visually appealing on its own. A lovely pale green, flecked with the brown speckles that announce, “Chocolate inside.”
A short sidebar before I give you my entirely bootlegged recipe for this mint milkshake: I give Cafe Gratitude a hard time for being so darn expensive. And also for seeming like a crazy cult where to order food you have to say things like, “I’d like an I Am Alert with a side of I Am Accepting” and where everyone does Landmark Forums and there are superhippydreamy paintings on the walls. But they’re actually pretty awesome. They have some cool behind-the-scenes business practices that aren’t obvious from just going there as a customer. They offer the Grateful Bowl, a delicious raw kale and grain bowl whose cost is “pay what you can,” and they serve 37,000 of them a year. They’re entirely vegan, which is a huge contribution to the wellbeing of the world as far as I’m concerned. They work hard to source food locally, and even have their own farm where a lot of the CG produce is grown.
What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think the milkshakes are $9 because CG are elitist, bourgeois jerks. I think that’s probably a price that reflects the cost of having good business practices, buying local food, making your own raw vegan ice cream from nuts, and subsidizing projects like the Grateful Bowl. And right now what I’m grateful for is the inspiration, because for $9 I can make eight milkshakes at home (or four, rather, because I tend to guzzle the whole 16 oz. on my own…), and nothing inspires gratitude in me like being able to indulge my longing for a super refreshing vegan mint chocolate milkshake without breaking the bank.
1/2 cup vanilla high-quality vegan ice cream (I like Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss)
3/4 cup “milk” (I use almond, CG uses hazelnut)
24 mint leaves
2 pitted dates
1/2 – 3/4 cup ice cubes
1 T. cocoa nibs
Stick two glasses in the freezer to chill. Place all ingredients except cocoa nibs into the Vitamix container in the order listed. (If you don’t have a Vitamix you need to have a blender that can really handle ice in order for this recipe to work.)
If your Vitamix has a Frozen Desserts setting, just set it and let it run. Be sure to use the tamper throughout the cycle to keep incorporating the ingredients, or you’ll end up with little bits of date and mint leaf. If you don’t have the FD setting, use the variable speed and turn it quickly to high, using the tamper to incorporate, until four soft mounds form in the container. Check the consistency at this point. If it is too thin, add more ice and process again at high speed. (You can also add more ice cream, of course, but that’s not the most budget-conscious way to thicken the milkshake, and adding ice really does do the trick.) If it’s too thick, I’d just scoop it out and eat it with a spoon, but you can thin it out with a little more milk if you prefer.
Add cocoa nibs and process on high for a few seconds. Pour into chilled glasses and serve!
Makes 2 8-oz. servings.