Refreshing, ice-cold and perfectly sweet, this drink is actually more like a shake than a smoothie. Made with nut milk and coconut ice cream, it has all of the components of a classic shake but without the dairy — although the coconut ice cream is so rich and creamy, you would never know.
The thinner texture and thirst-quenching qualities of shakes are ideal in hotter months, and the flavor of fresh mint and a little caffeine boost from the cocoa can also help one stay alert on sleepy summer afternoons.
Chocolate Shake with Coconut and Mint
Here I opt to use raw cacao powder in place of cocoa powder. Milled at low temperatures and not highly processed, raw cacao is a good source of antioxidants, iron and magnesium. Cacao nibs (used as a garnish) are made by crushing the whole cacao bean. They add a deep chocolate flavor and a great crunchy texture.
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
¾ cup dairy-free coconut ice cream, plus more to serve (I like Coconut Bliss, sold at Whole Foods and similar markets)
1 frozen banana, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup ice cubes
6 mint leaves, plus more to garnish
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cacao nibs to garnish, optional
Add all ingredients (except cacao nibs) to an upright blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses, top with a spoon of ice cream, a sprig of mint and a sprinkle of cacao nibs. Serve immediately.
Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.