It’s been a while since I shared a gourmet smoothie recipe. In the spirit of the holidays, here is my gift to you. You might think it’s the smoothie, but it’s more than that. It’s the apple. The Black Arkansas apple is a special gift to all of us apple lovers. And it’s seasonal, so start hunting for it now.
It’s hard to tell from my picture, but this particular one is young. You can tell by the light color around the stem. Cellar the heirloom Black Arkansas for a month, and the whole skin will turn dark, dark red. The flesh looks snowy white against the dark skin. It’s tart, with warm spice notes, which made me immediately think of cinnamon and Black Walnut bitters.
The Black Arkansas is best eaten out of hand when it’s young, when it still has light color around the stem and the texture is crisp. Once it’s dark all over, it’s a better pie baking apple than an eating out of hand apple. The exact lineage isn’t known, but some believe it hails from the Winesap apple, and it was first cultivated sometime during the late 1800’s in Benton County, Arkansas.
I found Black Arkansas at Sprouts, but I’ve seen it at Whole Foods, too. I hope you can find some. Do your own experiment. Buy several pounds. Eat one now to understand the taste, and then make this smoothie with another one. Put a few pounds in your crisper drawer for a few weeks, and watch them turn a deep, ebony red. And then… bake a pie.
The recipe for the smoothie is below, but let me just say a couple of things first.
One, please, please don’t put ice in this (or any) smoothie. Ice waters down the flavor. I chill the apple in the refrigerator so that it is nice and cold. The yogurt is cold, too. That is plenty enough chill to enjoy the flavors this smoothie. It won’t be icy cold, but it will be cool. When drinks are ice cold, the flavor is muted. All you taste is… nothing, really, but you do get a cold sensation. In the case of, say, Bud Light, that’s a good thing. But it’s not a good thing for a carefully crafted gourmet smoothie. And besides, on a winter morning, who wants to drink an ice cold drink?
The other thing I want to mention is about toasting walnuts. They only need a light toasting. Over-toasted walnuts will taste bitter. So if you toast most nuts at 7 or 8 minutes, bump your walnut toasting time down to 4 or 5 minutes, just enough to bring the oils to the surface. You don’t want them to darken in color much.
If you don’t have Black Walnut bitters, don’t worry. You can substitute 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. But if you can find the bitters, I think you’ll love how it pumps up the walnut flavor. I also use the bitters in my oatmeal. And I’ve been known to put a dash or three in a glass of bourbon.
Happy Holidays from my kitchen, to yours.
- 1-1/4 cups plain yogurt
- 1 large Black Arkansas apple, cored and chopped
- ¼ cup lightly toasted walnuts
- 1 or 2 Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 – 4 dashes Black Walnut Bitters
- Place all ingredients, in the order listed, into a blender or Vitamix and blend until smooth. Pour into two short glasses and serve.