Sunday, February 6, 2011

Root Beer Float & Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Most people know how to make a root beer float, but using homemade vanilla ice cream takes it to another level.  I made these decadent root beer floats (based on the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook recipe) last weekend in celebration of Kansas' 150th birthday.  I used David Lebovitz's Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from his book The Perfect Scoop.  Honestly, I never go crazy for vanilla, I am more of a chocolate girl, but this ice cream is to die for.  Using fresh vanilla bean creates a more rich, complex flavor compared to store-bought vanilla.  See below for the Clinton Street root beer float recipe as well as David Lebovitz's vanilla ice cream recipe.

Ingredients for a Root Beer Float from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, serves 1:

-3 generous scoops of vanilla ice cream (see recipe below)
-one 12-ounce bottle Ithaca Root Beer (I used Stewart's Root Beer)

*Note: Neil suggest the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory vanilla ice cream.  If you can get your hands on their ice cream - it really is the best in New York.  Neil also loves the Ithaca root beer because, "it is nutty and not too sweet, and best of all, it retains its carbonation."  

So the directions are simple - 2 scoops of ice cream in a tall glass.  pour in about 3 ounces root beer.  As the foam settles, pour in the remaining root beer.  Letting the root beer settle is an important step, because it allows for a large bubbly head that won't foam over, but just stays in place (think Marge Simpson's hair).  Garnish the float with the remaining scoop of ice cream on the side of the glass.  This is merely impossible, unless you have super hard ice cream.

Ingredients for Vanilla Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop, makes 1 quart:

-1 cup whole milk
-3/4 cup granulate sugar
-2 cups heavy cream
-Pinch of salt
-1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
-6 large egg yolks
-3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Begin by warming the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and the salt in a medium saucepan.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean as well.  Remove from heat and cover, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place the remaining cup of cream into a large bowl with a mesh strainer on top and set over an ice bath.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm vanilla mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.  Then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream.  Place the vanilla bean into the custard, add the vanilla extract, and stir until cool over the ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.  I let mine chill overnight so I could get a lot of vanilla bean flavor.  Remove vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving for another use.  I like to stick mine in a jar of sugar, to have vanilla sugar for my coffee :)  Freeze the mixture according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Click here to read about the rainbow cake I made with my dear San Fran friend for a Super Bowl/birhday party.  Oh and for a belated Chinese New Year recipe, try these Blood Orange Smilies.

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