I moved away from my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, half my lifetime ago at 18. First it was to Sherman, Texas, where I went to college, and then straight to New York, where I’ve been for almost 14 years. The longest period of time I’ve spent “at home” in all those intervening years was three weeks between Christmas and a mid-January family wedding in 2017. While I will never (could never!) sever ties with the land of my birth, it’s always evident during my visits that it’s moved on just fine without me.
In a lot of ways, it’s great. I don’t see the day-to-day, but I always show up to some new something. There’s excellent vintage shopping now. Magnolia is hoppin’. Many of my very favorite people (and one perfect miniature schnauzer) are there and keep me apprised of everything important. But for all the new stuff happening, old things have to change.
Take the demise of my former favorite coffee shop, Four Star Coffee Bar, for instance. It was tucked into a strip mall on the west side until shortly after I moved to New York. I don’t remember exactly when it closed for good, but I do remember the last coffee I had there in August of 2007 and a whole lot of Saturday nights spent there with friends, listening to someone’s terrible ex-boyfriend play bad music and sipping espresso milkshakes. They were nothing more than shots of espresso and vanilla ice cream whirled together—basically smooth affogatos—but I think about them all the time. They’ve been on my to-make list for years! All it took was walking by the old storefront with my little sister a few weeks ago to finally get me to pull my blender off the shelf and get to it.
Now, I should say that this recipe isn’t a carbon copy of the original. For one thing, I don’t have an espresso machine, and for another, I’m basing this recipe entirely on a 14 year old memory. Still, the combination of dissolved instant espresso and vanilla ice cream is pretty dang good. These shakes are cold, smooth and creamy with plenty of espresso flavor, even if you use decaf.
I suppose you could class these up by buying/using an espresso machine to pull shots or alternatively, going to a coffee shop, getting espresso to-go, coming home, letting it cool and then blitzing it with ice cream…but that seems like a lot of work for something that can be made just as well with some stuff in a jar and warm tap water. Plus, if you make these the easy way at home, I can guarantee you won’t have to listen to anyone’s ex-boyfriend’s terrible band for even a second.
Sometimes change is a good thing.
makes 1 large or 2 small milkshakes
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules (decaf is fine)
1 tablespoon warm tap water
1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream
4 tablespoons milk of choice (I used whole)
whipped cream, for garnish (optional)
chocolate covered espresso beans, for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together espresso granules and water until granules are dissolved. Combine espresso mixture, ice cream and milk in a high-powered blender. Blitz until smooth. If needed, add more milk by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached. Pour into glasses and garnish with whipped cream and/or chocolate-covered espresso beans, if desired. Serve immediately.