Choco-Nana Shakes

Growing up, my parents had a terrible blender from the 1970s that was olive green and had buttons specific to whatever you wanted to blend. Labels like 'drinks,' or 'soup' or whatever, but the speeds never seemed to vary and I never understood what you were meant to do if the thing you wanted to blend (an iphone, maybe?) wasn't on the list. Nevertheless, we wore that thing out making virgin pina coladas in the summer (still my favourite family recipe) and banana milks in the winter.

What's a banana milk, you ask? Well, I'll do my best to describe it to you, but I'll have to warn you that the inventor passed away years ago and never wrote down the recipe, so it's a bit of trial and error. A banana milk is basically very cold milk, a couple of speckly bananas (preferably frozen), a wee sprinkle of sugar, a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg, and... maybe nothing else? It's sort of like a smoothie crossed with a milkshake, but without any ice cream and, I'm pretty sure, without any ice. You can't dress up a banana milk, because it's the absolute epitome of perfection as it is. Banana milks are the single thing that converted me to (tentatively) liking bananas when I was very young. I used to beg my parents to make me a banana milk-- we even had glasses (horrible, ridged olive green things) that were especially perfect for drinking them, in the same way that flutes are perfect for champagne and old-fashioned glasses best for old-fashioneds.

Despite my partiality to banana milks, I've never been able to stomach the idea of banana shakes from a restaurant-- I always figure they'll arrive at the table dyed an unnatural yellow, flavoured unnaturally with candy-like sticky goo, and not nearly as good as the creamy simplicity of a banana milk.* But when I found this recipe in the box, on a Quik ad no less, I got excited. It might not be as authentic of a Hurm snack as a banana milk, but there's not a lot in the world that I wouldn't try with the addition of chocolate, and the banana shake I'm about to share with you is definitely a win.

I can imagine Eleanor saving this ad from the newspaper to make these shakes for her grandchildren-- me or my older cousins-- all of us beneficiaries of her enormous sweet tooth and willingness to share. I, especially, was extremely sensitive to ads with talking cartoon characters as a child and adored the Quik ads with that dumb brown bunny, so I know I would have loved these as a kid. However, you need not be a child to make this for yourself tonight. Indeed, you might even enjoy it more as an adult, because now it's legal for you to stir a wee shot of Bailey's into your shake and that is pretty much the only thing that I can think of that would make this entire thing better.

These shakes are simple and easy-- the perfect summer dessert on a hot night. The combo of banana and chocolate is the perfect summer pairing that will make you feel like you're on a tropical island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Make them and sit on your porch to sip them while you watch a thunderstorm roll in, and know that I'm jealous from way over here in Scotland, where thunder is a once-a-year occurrence at best.

*Incidentally, this relates directly to the best travel tip I have ever received, and I will share that with you now: if you're ever travelling in Italy and trying to determine at a glance whether a gelato shop is worth it's salt or not, check the banana gelato. If it's creamy and yellow, you know they dye their gelato and probably don't make it on-site. If it's grey and grainy looking, they likely make it on-site with fresh bananas, and their gelato is much better for it.

The verdict:

3 spoons out of five as the recipe was written, but with the changes I note below, this is easily a 4-spoon recipe... especially if you have fancy straws to sip this out of.

The recipe:

Banana Chocolate Milkshake

the directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender (or food processor, if you're like us) and puree until smooth.
Serve in a frozen glass with a twirly straw for extra enjoyment.

Yields 2 good-size shakes

the ingredients:

2 c milk (you'll like the taste better if you use something above skim, but I did skim and they were still delicious)
2 medium bananas, frozen
4 tbsp chocolate syrup (if you also have to use 'dessert syrup' like me, you might want to add another spoonful)