With all the flavors of fall, this Sweet Potato Shake is the best way I know to shake up the season. And it’s easy with just six simple ingredients.
My father George Graham, Sr. opened his restaurant the Acme Café in Bogalusa, Louisiana in 1946 and for all the 40-plus years he was in business, I recall seeing (and hearing) a Hamilton Beach milkshake mixer whirring away behind the counter. With its jadeite green porcelain-coated, cast-iron neck, long metal spindle, and gleaming stainless steel container, that old model 30 mixer was the most used item in his arsenal of soda fountain equipment. Malts and shakes (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry only) were in constant motion sliding down the Formica countertop to eagerly waiting customers.
At the time of his retirement, my father closed his restaurant and sold off his equipment. Not sure why (a sentimental reason, I guess), but he never sold that mixer. Instead, he retired it away in the back of the garage where it gathered dust for years. A decade or so later, I recall finding it hidden away among a few other restaurant memories, and I asked my father if I could bring it back into service. He smiled and nodded his approval, and to this day, that old machine has never failed to mix up a quality shake.
You don’t normally think of the fall as a time to bring out the milkshake mixer. But, it’s hard not to fall in love with the idea of a thick and creamy milkshake with all the flavors of the holidays all mixed up in an ice-cold glass. When I stumbled on the idea for my Sweet Potato Shake, I decided it was time to shake things up around the Graham house.
For most, milkshakes are associated with the heat of summer, but here in Acadiana, summer weather can last well into October, November, and even into December. But with this easy dessert drink, you don’t have to be swayed by the thermometer or the weather forecast to lug out the mixing machine. In my recipe playbook, combining fall flavors like sweet potato, cinnamon, and brown sugar with creamy vanilla ice cream is a combination that works anytime of the year.
I like how the two star ingredients in this shake whip up thick and frosty, but there is a trick to ensure results. It’s important to chill the sweet potato flesh before adding it to the mixing container, or you risk the warmth of the pulp melting the ice cream.
They say food memories are some of the strongest we have and I couldn’t agree more. Around the Graham house, you can still hear that old Hamilton Beach mixer whirring away, mixing up enough new memories to fill a tall glass or two. I love it so.
- 2 large baked sweet potatoes or 2 cups canned sweet potato puree
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus more for garnish
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar, plus more for garnish
- 1 large raw sweet potato
- 1 half-gallon carton vanilla ice cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- Slice open the baked sweet potatoes and scoop out the flesh, eliminating any stringy membrane. Add a teaspoon each of cinnamon and light brown sugar. With a wire whisk, beat the potato until completely smooth. Chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour or until time to serve.
- Cut 4 round slices of raw sweet potato and place in a microwaveable container with a few tablespoons of water. Cover the container and microwave on high until the potato rounds steam and become tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the potato rounds from the container and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides of the rounds with a sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar.
- For each shake, start by adding 2 generous scoops of ice cream to the metal mixing container of a milkshake machine or the container of a blender. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of sweet potato pulp and a splash of milk. On high speed, mix the ingredients, adding more ice cream or milk if needed to create a thick shake. Pour the mixture into a tall glass and dust the top of the creamy shake with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Garnish with a sweet potato round and serve with both a spoon and straw.
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