Friday, July 27, 2012

Double Root Beer Floats

When you're a little kid, you don't think much about how your experiences will influence the rest of your life.  OK, most kids don't think about that sort of thing at all.  Why would they?  Children live for the moment, the "here and now".  As adults, we tend to forget about the present and spend much of our time planning for our futures or reminiscing about our pasts.  I wonder when that switch occurs?  Sometime in the transition between the teenage brain and the adult brain, I'd guess.  But I'd be hard-pressed to come up with the memory that was the first to register with me as something that would stick with me forever.  And yet, I know they exist.

I think it must be because the things that really make you who you are are more often the little things and not the huge, life-altering events.  The little family traditions, the special treats, or the things that are said to you day in and day out that influence the adult person you will become. 

Many of my influences came from my mother and her family, mostly because we were closer to her side of the family.  My father sort of gets pushed aside by my Mom's loud, rambunctious Italian family- and I don't mean that in a bad way.  But he's a quiet, unassuming kind of guy and I guess he doesn't mind most of the time.  Nevertheless, there are a few loves in my life that are a direct result of my Dad's influence.
When you grow up as an all-American boy in the 60s, there are a few things that you can count on being a part of your life.  Baseball (go Phillies!), drive-ins, and cool cars.  My dad can tell you all about any car ever made, but especially about the muscle cars of the late 60s and early 70s.  I love that when you ask a question about one, he'll rattle off a ton of information about it even when all you wanted to know was when it was made.  I'm not a gearhead by any stretch of the imagination, but I still find myself watching car auctions and restoration shows on TV and thinking of my dad.

My dad and I would listen to baseball on the radio while working out in the yard, or to the old radio shows from the 1940s (like George Burns and the original Green Hornet) on the way to gymnastics practice.  That was our quality time.  Neither of us are big talkers, so we would just sit together and listen.  And when he wanted to do something really special, back when you could still find them, he'd seek out a drive-in burger joint and order us up a root beer float.  To this day, I still consider them the ultimate treat.  My mom wanted a chocolate ice cream soda, but my dad and I would always go for the root beer.  It was even better if the root beer came straight from the tap or at least a glass bottle.

I don't drink much soda these days, but on the rare occasion that I do, you can bet it will be a root beer.  Thanks Dad!
Double Root Beer Floats (with Root Beer Ice Cream)
Makes about 1 quart of ice cream and enough root beer floats for a bunch of hungry kids.  Adapted (just barely) from Amanda's Cookin'.
For a printable recipe, click here.

I'm going to confess, I didn't think this ice cream was going to turn out right.  The ingredients seemed too simple and try as I may, I just couldn't get it to freeze in my ice cream maker.  As a last resort, I just poured the really cold ice cream base into a freezer safe container and stuck it in the freezer overnight.  Lo and behold, the next day I actually had scoopable ice cream.  So there's hope even for you folks without an ice cream maker.  All you have to do is seek out root beer extract (which, oddly enough, I found at Walmart and not some fancy cooking store).  Get yourself some really good root beer, in a bottle of course, and you're set!

14 oz container of sweetened condensed milk (all I had was the non-fat version and it worked just fine)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup of milk (anything but non-fat will work here)
4-5 tsp root beer extract (they vary widely by brand, so taste your ice cream base before adding more)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Chill until very cold (at least two hours).  Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.  If you can't get yours to freeze- like I couldn't- don't fear.  Continue on with the recipe anyway. 

Place the ice cream in a freezer safe container and freeze until solid, preferably at least 4 hours or overnight.

To make the floats, pour root beer into a frosty glass to about 3/4 full.  Add a big scoop of the root beer ice cream on top.  Serve with a straw and a spoon.


  1. Replies
    1. Quite good Lisa. I'm itching to try the ice cream with cream soda for an "inside out" float too! Thanks for keeping up with me!