As someone with a mild to moderate yet completely unreasonable and sometimes overwhelming case of anxiety, the act of taking a vacation is often more of a challenge for me than an opportunity.
And no, I don’t mean that in the sense that I just love working so much and have such blinding ambition and tireless drive that the mere thought of taking a break is simply unbearable (I’m not that much of sociopath, you guys).
I dread vacations because I have a deep-seeded uneasiness about basic adult pursuits and am generally afraid of everything, especially being away from home. I view traveling mostly as a series of obstacles designed to either make me vomit, make me cry, give me a migraine, or some delightful combination of the three. Couple this with a heightened awareness of germs and bedbugs, sprinkle in some severe motion sickness, and boom – I’m basically the most perfect travel companion you could ever imagine (and just think, all of this goes down before the vacation even starts!).
So, yeah. I don’t really like vacations.
Until, that is, we had the vacation to top all vacations.
No, it wasn’t Paris, it wasn’t Rome…it was (drumroll please)…Bar Harbor, Maine!
Maine ended up being the perfect vacation for us because we could do the things we typically do at home (eat, sleep, go to the park, eat some more), but in one of the most beautiful, genuine, relaxed places we’d ever experienced. And just look at this landscape!
And this adorable, postcard-perfect view!
My husband and I loved Maine so much that any anxiety I felt about traveling, blood-sucking parasites, and being away from home just melted away. We even started fantasizing about what it would be like to live there. We examined local real estate, googled deals on used Subarus, and perused the open positions at L.L. Bean (because YOU GUYS who wouldn’t want to work for LL Bean?! Three words: Wicked. Good. Slippers).
We did everything we could think of that was stereotypically Maine: ate lobster on the beach, hit the trails at Acadia National Park, took selfies at all the major landmark lighthouses, and drove the coast at sunset. We spent some time in Portland noshing on poutine and potato donuts, and looked for shells and sea glass in the beaches of South Portland (or as the locals call it, SoPo. Hipster alert!).
But of all we did (and we did a lot!), perhaps our greatest accomplishment is that we fell in love.
Much like vacations, blueberries are another thing in my life that have always given me apprehension. If a fruit could embody a lifetime of anxiety and insecurities, for me that fruit would be the blueberry. Truthfully, I’ve never found them all that interesting, but felt like I should like them because society (aka bloggers on Instagram) told me I should. I’d swear them off for periods of time, but would eventually succumb to the peer pressure and think, “C’mon, clearly everyone loves blueberries! What’s wrong with you?! Give em another try!” So I’d fall for it, just to be bitterly disappointed when the vibrant blue berries just didn’t live up to the hype. Blueberries just don’t taste that good, I’d say to myself. They just don’t taste like anything, quite frankly.
Until I tried Maine wild blueberries. And then I realized, blueberries taste like something…a very, very good something.
We had blueberry everything – blueberry pancakes, blueberry beer, blueberry ice cream, and my favorite of all, blueberry soda. We loved it so much that as soon as we got back to Ohio, we ordered a case so that we could enjoy a little piece of Maine at home.
Now, don’t worry – you don’t have to have blueberry soda to make this float. It would taste great with any berry-based soda (a blackberry Izze would work great). However, keep in mind that this is a triple blueberry float. If you sub out one of the blueberry components for a lesser fruit, then it becomes a…double berry float. Definitely less impressive if you ask me 🙂
This float is triple blueberry perfection. Tart blueberry ice cream, drowning in sweet blueberry soda, and topped with fragrant, roasted blueberries. It’s the perfect treat on a hot summer day!
You don’t have to make the blueberry ice cream (you could always use vanilla or raspberry in a pinch), but you guys. This blueberry ice cream is good. Like, so good. Like, “omg, is this really fruit ice cream?” good. Granted, it’s probably not as good as it could be, because I used Ohio blueberries and not Maine wild blueberries, but it’s nothing a little heavy cream and sugar can’t remedy.
I added in a bit of fresh lemon juice and cream cheese to give it an almost cheesecake-like intensity. My favorite part about this ice cream? The texture – it’s chunky and jam-packed with blueberries!
Rather than completely pureeing the flesh of the berries, I pulsed them in my Vitamix just once – enough to break them up a bit, but not enough to completely liquefy the berry.
Don’t like chunks of fruit in your ice cream? No worries – there’s no rules with these floats! (Except the messier, the better, obviously).
Add a splash of bourbon if you like, and pile tons of whipped cream on top. Garnish with blueberries, and voila! Triple Blueberry goodness.
Dear Maine, I love you. Thanks for showing me how fun (and delicious) vacations can be.
Oh and blueberries, you ain’t so bad yourself. You’re actually pretty awesome after all.
Happy scooping 🙂
Triple Blueberry Ice Cream Floats
Yield: 6 Massive Floats
For the Roasted Blueberry Compote:
3 heaping cups blueberries, divided
¼ cup sugar
For the Ice Cream Base
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whole milk, plus 2 tablespoons
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Pinch of kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups of the Roasted Blueberry Compote
For the Float:
2 bottles of chilled blueberry soda; if not available, any berry flavor will do
Plenty of Whipped Cream
Handful of uncooked blueberries, to garnish
Make the Roasted Blueberry Compote:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place berries in a baking dish or pan and sprinkle with sugar. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until berries are juicy and bursting. Allow to cool for a few minutes; until cool enough to handle.
- Place berries in the container of your blender and pulse once or twice for a chunky texture, or puree completely if you prefer a smoother ice cream (but remember, you’ll also use these berries as a layering component in your finished float; even if you prefer smooth ice cream, you may want to leave a cup of the berries chunky and puree the rest). Set aside two cups of the berries for your ice cream base and place the rest in the fridge until it’s time to build the floats.
Make the Blueberry Ice Cream:
- In a medium bowl, mix two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
- Fill a large bowl or your sink with ice water (lots of ice!!!). Set aside.
- In a 4 quart saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt, then bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes.
- After 4 minutes, remove the milk mixture from heat and gradually mix into your cornstarch and milk mixture that you made in Step 1. Add combined mixture back to the saucepan, and cook over medium high heat for about 1 minute, or until thickened and the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and cream cheese. Once cream cheese is completely incorporated, mix in the fresh lemon and 2 cups of the roasted blueberry compote.
- Place mixture in a gallon sized Ziploc bag (not the press n’ seal kind; make sure you get the fancy kind that locks). Submerge in ice bath for half an hour until cold, or, skip the ice bath altogether and place bag in the fridge overnight.
- Once the ice cream base is chilled, churn in your ice cream maker. Freeze finished ice cream in the freezer for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
Assemble the Floats:
- In a tall glass, layer blueberry ice cream, then compote, then more ice cream, then more compote.
- Pour soda into the glasses. Be gentle – soda may foam up out of the glass.
- Garnish with plenty of whipped cream and uncooked blueberries.