Fresh Fruit Soda Floats
This time of year, I’m putting fresh fruit in everything: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and, of course, dessert. Between the heat and the abundance of gorgeous farmers market specimens, I crave their hydrating sweetness. So it’s no surprise I gravitated to these Fresh Fruit Ice Cream Sodas. Their beautiful hues and titillating fizz make for a provocative dessert, or, if you swap the ice cream for half-and-half, a nice afternoon pick-me-up.
Get the original recipe here.
I started by making three different fruit purees: grape (using small, sweet champagne grapes), sour cherry, and blueberry. I cut way back on the sugar, using only about a quarter to a half of the amount called for in the recipe. Let the fruit be your guide. Come summer, mine always asks, “Can I be the star?” The grapes and blueberries I used were quite sweet and only needed a little sugar to punch them up, while the sour cherries needed a little extra boost. A squeeze of lemon was welcome in all cases, as the acidity contrasts beautifully and differently with each fruit.
The fun thing about cooking is that no matter how comfortable or seasoned I become in the kitchen, I’m always learning new things. In this case, I was surprised to find the blueberry puree formed a sturdy gel during its sit in the fridge. Turns out, blueberries contain quite a bit of natural pectin, so combining them with sugar and an acid created the perfect environment to make what was essentially blueberry jelly. It was no longer a good fit for mixing with soda but was lovely with buttered toast the next morning.
The fresh fruit floats turned out just as I imagined—the ideal balance of cream, bubbles, and fresh fruit purees. These would be a fun and invigorating way to finish a summer dinner party or to make the last days before the school year resumes extra-special.
To morph these into an afternoon snack (although this could easily qualify as a dessert, too), I also made an Italian cream soda variation, replacing the ice cream with half-and-half. This cuts back on the sweetness but maintains the decadence.
Whether you’re using ice cream or half-and-half, there is a lot more room for experimentation here: change up the fruits, try lime instead of lemon juice, use honey or maple syrup rather than sugar, or scoop up a complementary flavor of ice cream. How amazing would it be to slurp up a combo if strawberry puree and chocolate ice cream?! Fortunately, I never tire of these trials.
Fresh Fruit Soda Floats
1 cup fresh fruit, such as raspberries; blackberries; blueberries; chopped strawberries; or peeled, chopped peaches, nectarines, mangoes, or apricots
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Vanilla ice cream (or half-and-half for Italian cream soda)
Soda water or seltzer water, chilled
- For syrup: In a blender or food processor, combine desired fruit, sugar and lemon juice. Blend or process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Chill syrup, covered, for 4 hours or up to 3 days.
- For each soda: Add 1/4 cup of the chilled fruit syrup and half a scoop of ice cream to a tall glass. Blend with spoon. Fill glass three-quarters full with soda or seltzer water. Add two scoops ice cream. Serve immediately.
For Italian cream soda variation: Add 1/4 cup of the chilled fruit syrup and 2 tablespoons half-and-half to a short glass. Blend with a spoon. Pour in 4-8 ounces soda or seltzer water. Serve immediately.