There are other recipe-less creations -- granola, compote, galette -- that have definite screw-up potential, whether or not you're following a recipe. You could burn the granola, over-sweeten the compote, or break a tooth on a rock-hard galette crust. (The author has done all of the above.)
But a milkshake? A milkshake will prevail no matter what you do. If you mess up the ratio of milk to ice cream, just add more of either one until you have the right consistency. The worst thing that can happen is that you end up with a larger milkshake than you were expecting, and that's a pretty great "worst thing."
People forget about the possibility of making milkshakes, but in the late summer, when another scoop of ice cream can start to seem just a little, well, "vanilla," a milkshake can amp up the excitement. We transformed plain ice cream into a blueberry-graham shake, and we have many more ideas for helping you to turn that carton in your freezer into something spectacular and suited just to your tastes.
Here's how to do it:
1. Get out your blender, and ponder a deep question: Do you prefer icy shakes or silky shakes? If you prefer icier shakes, you'll want to crush a handful of ice cubes in the blender or by hand before you start. If you want a softer, smoother shake, let the ice cream sit out on the counter for a few minutes before blending it.
Then, plop in several scoops of ice cream (we recommend two per person). Choose any flavor you want, but make sure it's high-quality, as the ice cream will determine not only the flavor, but also the texture, of your shake. We used vanilla ice cream because it's an endlessly customizable base, but go with whatever flavor you like.
For our purposes, sorbet and frozen yogurt also fall under the broad umbrella of ice cream; use those for less traditional shakes.
2. Next comes the milk: You can use any kind that you have in the refrigerator, be it whole (which is what we used), skim, or even dairy-free. The richer the milk, the richer the shake.
Pour in a bit of milk, then blend and test the viscosity: If your shake is too thick, add more milk; if it's too thin, add more ice cream. Rocket science, this is not.
3. Finally, the add-ins: This is an opportunity to transform whatever flavor of ice cream you already have into something new and exciting (we used graham crackers and blueberries). Throw them in all at once, like we did, or go for more textural variety, and add the crunchy toppings when you're almost finished blending. Here's some creative fodder:
6. Sip through a large straw, or use a spoon to dig into a thicker shake.
What's your best milkshake creation? Tell us in the comments below!
Photo by James Ransom
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.