The Unicorn Frappuccino. Business analysts call the drink's creation "stunt marketing" but Starbucks calls it "flavor-changing, color-changing, totally not made-up" and describes the flavor as "magical" starting off "sweet and fruity transforming to pleasantly sour." Meanwhile, lovable culinary snark Anthony Bourdain called it the "perfect nexus of awfulness" but unless you've been under a rock the past month, you've seen or heard about it. Perhaps you even tried one, like I did with a mico-sample at my local
crack dealer's Starbucks:
Sample Size. A good place to stop.
And what does it taste like? SUGAR. Sugar-flavored sugar that tastes vaguely of mango, in fun colors that was available for a short time only, is 100% Instagram-worthy, and will give you street cred with middle schoolers. So, basically, a win for Starbucks and "diabetes in a cup" according to health experts, parents and sane people everywhere. Clearly I lost my sanity when I tried it: they say that the taste of sugar induces our brains to seek more sugar, so I decided to make my own at home. Yeah... because if I made it, it would somehow not be a bucket of cold iced shiny sugar mess? Well, not if I made it exclusively with ingredients available at my favorite health food store, San Francisco's venerable Rainbow Grocery!
Yes, I took my tween daughter to get one and Instagrammed it, what.
Semi-healthy ingredients mostly from the health food store. I should point out that my cost was significantly higher than the cost of the actual drinks, though due to their scarcity, it was my only option as the drinks were discontinued the day before. According to my calculations, two drinks made at home cost approximately $38, while the drink retailed for just under $5. Hmmmm...
For the "Frappuccino" I blended frozen mango, Greek yogurt, a bit of vanilla ice cream, and coconut water. I tried using grenadine to color it pink, but that had seemingly no effect, so I resorted to red (natural! No red #5 thankyouverymuch) food color, and had to use the whole package ($2) to get even a slight pink. BUT IT WAS PINK! I skipped the cranberries, worrying about texture, and let the yogurt provide the slight tartness we tasted in the original. I added agave syrup to sweeten it, but I am sure mine was nowhere NEAR as sweet as the original (59 g of sugar).
The procedure was rather messy, and required numerous elements of my "Ninja Mega Kitchen System" (OK I just like to say that aloud in my best NASCAR voice! Don't you do that too?) and I pulled several things out of the fridge that were not planned. This was truly an experiment, not a tested recipe. So, I might need to do it again...
You'll note in the original, there is a blue drizzle around the inside of the cup... I tried to recreate this with blended blueberries. They didn't get blue enough or thick enough, so I added a bit of vanilla ice cream, as well as blue food coloring.
AND OMG here it is! In fact the most disappointing element was the Soy Whip, which did not set up the way conventional whipped-cream-in-a-can does, so the top of the cup is sadly empty, but we did sprinkle it with blue sugar crystals in an effort to recreate the neon blue "fairy powder" of the original.... After laughing for about 5 minutes straight, and referring to the hilarious Instagram account @pinterest_fails we tried it, and you know what? It was GOOD!
OK maybe not quite as good, colorful or thick as the original...
But I did it!