Triple Blueberry Ice Cream Floats

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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).

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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.

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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!

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And this adorable, postcard-perfect view!

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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.

…with blueberries.

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 12 hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Yield: 6 Massive Floats

Ingredients:

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:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Fill a large bowl or your sink with ice water (lots of ice!!!). Set aside.
  3. In a 4 quart saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt, then bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

  1. In a tall glass, layer blueberry ice cream, then compote, then more ice cream, then more compote.
  2. Pour soda into the glasses. Be gentle – soda may foam up out of the glass.
  3. Garnish with plenty of whipped cream and uncooked blueberries.

Enjoy!!!!

Boozy Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Float

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I have an embarrassing confession to make.

I hate traveling.

Okay, so maybe not traveling so much as flying. Full disclosure: I find airplanes to be downright terrifying. Sure, long car trips can be tedious, and statistically, are much more dangerous than traveling by plane, but as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I’m not necessarily a reasonable person who is easily swayed by facts, math, or logic. Rather, I tend to follow much more reliable indicators, such as the feelings of sheer panic and general barfiness I experience each time I step onto a plane.

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The entire air travel experience makes me anxious, from the removal of my shoes and jacket (and consequently, my dignity) in the security line, to boarding the plane, to the actual flying, right up until that sweet sweet moment hours later when the plane touches the ground and slows to a gradual halt without incident.

But the absolute worst part? Taking off. Those few moments in which the plane first ascends into the air are the most complex and fear-ridden of my life.

In addition to a life-long struggle with motion sickness rearing its ugly head, I’m plagued with thoughts of dread and impending doom. So imagine nausea, coupled with anxiety, compounded by my fear of the plane crashing, then topping it all off with thoughts of “omg, I hope I don’t have to actually use this barf bag.” Welcome to my air travel experience.

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While other passengers busy themselves pretending to switch their small handheld devices into airplane mode, I listen to the safety information speech, intently, taking detailed mental notes of all exits and the individuals manning those areas. I look them up and down, thinking, “Does this person look responsible?” I assess their competence based upon appearance. Argyle sweater vest? Okay, that’s a good sign. Sweater vests are a sure sign of reliability and hidden heroism.

But Miss Yoga Pants, over there? Nope. No way. This broad’s about as reliable as a car with no brakes.

After the plane takes off and starts aggressively gaining altitude, I enter what I like to refer to as my Any Minute Now stage. As in, any minute now the engine is either going to fail or explode and my fear-stricken body will go crashing to the ground. Once the plane stabilizes I relax a little, moving from a state of sheer panic to a mode of General Suspicion (so still on guard and aware of my surroundings, but not plagued with heart-racing anxiety). I tend to stay in this state until final descent, at which point I’m so emotionally enhausted I just close my eyes and hope the landing gear (and the pilot) does what it’s supposed to do.

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The sad thing about all of this nonsense? I actually consider myself a well-traveled individual, at least domestically speaking. But no matter how many business trips, destination weddings, or vacations I take part in, I can’t shake those irrepressible feelings of panic and doom that I associate with air travel.

However, there is one thing that I love about traveling by plane: the airports themselves. I love how each airport, to a certain extent, represents the city in which it resides. I love the local art and murals, and the hustle and bustle of busy folks off to exotic places. I love the trinket shops full of mugs and pens and shot glasses, and those little souvenir collector spoons that look like they were made for itty bitty ice cream sundaes.

But above all, I love the standard, run-of-the-mill Hudson News-type shops filled wall-to-wall with books and magazines.

One of my very favorite things about traveling is spending copious amounts of money on said books and magazines, then pouring over the pages to help distract me from my unavoidable feelings of dread and gloom while on the plane.

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Despite the recent influx of technological devices that are designed to assist with the consumption of information, I still really love books and magazines in their natural states. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad, but there’s something about a good old fashioned piece of paper with words or pictures on it that I find extremely therapeutic.

(It’s especially comforting during those times when your fate rests in the hands of a yoga-pants-wearing twenty-something slurping on a venti Frapp).

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During our travel this past weekend, I took the opportunity to splurge on a few of my favorite foodie magazines, which were chock full of luscious summer desserts, particularly those of the strawberry persuasion. My favorite article though, was one about ice cream floats in Bon Appetit, featuring the fancy summer treat shot against bold and brightly colored backgrounds. I was instantly inspired, and found myself sufficiently distracted for the rest of the flight.

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I forgot about these themes of strawberries and floats until we returned from our trip late Sunday night, and I realized that Blog Post Day (typically Monday or Tuesday) was right around the corner but I had no energy or time to plan for ice cream. As I gazed at my glossy new magazines strewn across the floor, a lightbulb went off. I thought, hey, why not make a float?

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I’m actually surprised that this is the first time an ice cream float is making an appearance on the blog – I love floats, because they’re basically just sparkly milkshakes. I brainstormed some ideas, because I wanted to make a fancy float like the kind I saw in my magazine. But alas, I’m really not that fancy, so I decided to make something totally fun, old fashioned, and delicious: strawberry shortcake!

This ended up tasting exactly how I wanted it to: creamy, boozy, and full of sweet summery strawberries. The addition of Grand Marnier added a nice depth of flavor, and the cookies got all mushy and fabulous in the ice cream. I think this may be a new summer favorite!

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Making this float is easy as pie! (er, shortcake). Start with an empty glass:

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Add some strawberry compote and cookie crumbles, plus a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream:

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Then, add in your booze and soda:

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Add more ice cream, strawberries, and cookie crumbles:

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Top with delectable vanilla whipped cream and garnish with cookie crumbs, and voila!

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I think this recipe may have opened the float floodgates, because I can’t wait to make more! They’re super easy, customizable to whatever ingredients are in your kitchen, and require very little planning, which is awesome for a lazy summer day.

Side note: I’d like to point out that this is the second fruity dessert that I’ve posted in two weeks. AND it has alcohol. I think I’ve pretty much achieved grown up status.

What’s your favorite summer float combo?

Happy scooping 🙂

Boozy Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Float

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
 Yield: 2 floats

Ingredients:

1 pint vanilla ice cream

2 cups roughly chopped strawberries

1 tablespoon sugar

½ tsp cornstarch

Splash of Grand Marnier (or, to taste)

1 cup Blackberry Izze (or other berry sparkling soda/water)

1/2 cup pound cake or sugar cookie pieces, broken into bits (I prefer sugar cookies…they hold up better in the ice cream)

whipped cream (vanilla is awesome, if you have it)

Directions:

  1. Make the strawberry compote: Place the strawberries in a small saucepan over medium heat and sprinkle with sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently and mashing some of the larger fruit pieces against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the cornstarch, cook for another minute or two, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. In a tall glass or mason jar, layer a spoonful of the strawberry compote, then follow with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Top with a sprinkling of pound cake/cookie crumbles. Follow with another spoonful of strawberries, then ice cream, then cookies, and so on and so forth.
  3. Once your layers are complete, pour the Grand Marnier, followed by the blackberry soda, over top of the ice cream. Since the liquids can immediately start to melt the ice cream, I like to add an extra scoop of ice cream on top, followed by whipped cream and cookie crumbles to garnish.
  4. Stick in a straw and enjoy 🙂