Monday, February 23, 2015

March Is Right around the Corner, and I Can Taste It.

From mid-February to mid-March is a wonderfully magical time of year when McDonald's offers the ever-elusive Shamrock Shake in honor of Saint Patrick's Day. Because what better way to celebrate the death of a saint than with frothy green milkshakes? I came to the Shamrock Shake party later in life around the age of 22, after one night of Saint Patrick's Day shenanigans somehow ended me up at a McDonald's in the wee morning hours (funny how that happens). I decided to fully commit myself to the holiday because if I was going to ralph, dammit, it better come out green, too. I've never looked back since. In San Angelo and Detroit I had no trouble obtaining a Shamrock Shake, but things took a dastardly turn when we moved here. In what I find a very hard thing to admit, I am on the same page with the locals when it comes to their love of McDonald's limited-time green dessert. So much so that the first year we were here, all three McD's had sold out of the shake mix by March 1. I only got my grubby little leprechaun-ish fingers on one shake that year. Tragic. Over the course of the next three or four or seventeen Shamrock Shake seasons we've lived in Clovis (time passes much differently when you're living in Purgatory), I've been trying my damnedest to come up with a copycat recipe as delectable as the original. I just realized if I had been trying to perfect the Shamrock Shake recipe outside of just the post-Valentine's to St. Patrick's day range, I probably could've been enjoying really perfect, free shakes for the last 16 of the 17 Shamrock Shake seasons that have passed while living here in Purgatory Clovis. Oh hindsight, you sneaky little bastard.
Helllooooooo Miss March.

 There is not a drop of Irish blood in my veins, but my husband is Irish, and so is my stepdad. However, even before these two wonderful gents became a part of my life, March 17 has been a cause for celebration in my family as it is both my father's and aunt's birthday. As I grew up, I began to see St. Patty's day was about more than eating green food, and it was actually a bonafide drinking holiday. Top three favorite holidays? 
1. Halloween- you get to dress up in costume, eat spooky-shaped foods, and drink bewitching potions of the alcoholic variety.
2. New Year's Eve- you get to dress up super fancy, eat insanely rich foods, and drink expensive sparkling champagne.
3. Saint Patrick's Day- you get to dress up and pretend to be an entirely different nationality for one day, eat deliciously greasy foods (God Bless the potato), and drink lots of green beer.

I'll give you a moment to connect the dots. I preface this blog with my love of Saint Patrick's Day because it will be the first of many to come over the next few weeks featuring desserts that range in difficulty to make that you can bring to your very own debaucherous celebration, like green velvet cupcakes, Guinness chocolate cake with Bailey's Irish Cream icing, and mint chocolate frosted brownies. But let's start with the easiest recipe of them all: The Shamrock Shake, Kate Bakes Cakes style.
Just a few short steps from changing your entire life and pants size.
What you see here is a long and tested recipe that finalllllyyyy has equated to perfection. I mean, all versions of this shake that I concocted before were still milkshakes and therefore still very tasty, but in essence I wanted to take one sip and be transported to my McDonald's Drive Thru. I wanted my Shamrock Shake to be indecipherable from the original, like a really fancy knock-off purse that no one knows isn't the real thing (not anything your like your old high school friend's "Goochie" purse). 

Gather your blender or smoothie maker (halve the recipe if you use a single-serve smoothie maker) and the following ingredients:
  • 6-8 medium scoops of  Dreyer's Slow Churned Vanilla ice cream. My ice cream scoop is of a standard size, and I used 8 small to medium scoops to make two shakes total. If you're less impatient, let the ice cream sit out for 10 minutes to soften so you can get large scoops (like on a proper ice cream cone). If you go this route, you get about a cup of ice cream per scoop, so shoot for 4 large scoops. 
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream. If you want a thinner shake, use all milk. But the heavy cream gives the perfect consistency for this shake, so do yourself a favor and use it. I suppose you could try using all heavy cream if you want an extremely thick shake, but I went with half milk/half cream and it was perfect.
  • 3/4 cup of skim milk
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of pure mint extract depending on how minty you like things. This extract is super strong, so I used 1/4 teaspoon.
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons of sugar depending on your sweetness preference. I sincerely adore sugar and cannot live without its sweet caress on my taste buds, so I used 3 tablespoons.
  • 7-9 drops green food coloring.
  • Optional but really, really recommended: Reddiwip for topping
I know what you're saying if you live in Texas, "WHY would you not use Blue Bell ice cream for this?!?" I tried it once for my Shamrock Shake and it was good, but the richness of Blue Bell's homemade vanilla overpowered the extracts almost entirely. The Dreyer's vanilla almost has that soft-serve like flavor and consistency that mixes really well with the other ingredients so you can experience full Shamrocky goodness. So now what? Hold on to your hats people, things are about to get ridiculously hard...
When you piece apart ingredients to milkshakes, they look really questionable.
Here goes: Dump everything into your blender and mix until everything is combined. That's it. Done. Ready for eating. The hardest part about making these shakes is not eating all the ice cream beforehand. 
Do I have to share?

I like to class things up, so I poured our two shakes into milkshake glasses and topped with Reddiwip and green sprinkles. I also found lime green straws for this. I really need a more productive hobby. Help me. I'm drowning in my own Shamrock Shakes.
And upon first sip, the gods of indulgence parted the skies and angels sang.
At least I'm pretty sure that's what happened. Whether it really did or not is debatable, but the fact that these shakes taste exactly like McDonald's is not. After all sixteen four years of trying, I finally got the recipe DOWN. Small victories are a really big deal to me. Especially considering once again, after a really warm week and dreams of a thirst-quenching milkshake (the cupcakes fixed my margarita craving), we were hit with a terrible cold front for the second weekend in a row. But this did not stop me from making us Shamrock Shakes while it was snowing outside. I bumped up the heat a few degrees and pretended I lived somewhere where it was over 11 degrees with a McDonald's that never runs out of Shamrock Shake mix before Saint Patrick's Day. Perhaps it is my overactive imagination that has gotten me this far in life. I will be sure to put it to use again for the next installment of St. Patty's Day desserts here on the blog. For now, I'm off to wrap myself in five blankets and wonder whether people still die from pneumonia since my impervious-to-cold hairy Corgi mix always manages to goad me into dog walks when it's 20 degrees and snowing outside. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!

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