Today’s Black Forest Floats are not just a recipe, they are a part of a larger movement to make floats cool again. I used to love floats. They were my go-to at the restaurant my neighbors owned while I was growing up and my faithful order at the Dairy Bar on way home from the family cottage. I loved them, I drank them, I lived them. And then floats pretty much disappeared.
I get it! Floats are not good for you – they are sugar bombs. I think it’s great that we, as a society, have decided to pay more attention to what we eat. But on the other hand, why do I have to live in a world where Nacho Cheese flavored taco shells are a thing, but putting soda on ice cream is just too much? Well, the short answer is I don’t when I can make my own floats and sneer at evil taco shells.
These Black Forest Floats play on all the familiar flavors of the classic Black Forest cake. Yes, you heard me, cake in float form. I know, practically a health food, amirite? While it may not boost your fiber intake or serve as an excellent source of zinc, homemade brownie ice cream topped with Luxardo Chocolate syrup floating in black cherry soda is good for the soul, right? Right?
It seems to me that in the last few years floats have been making a small comeback. But it should be noted that I get most of my information from food blogs. And the food blog world is not always the best reflection of reality. So, you tell me. Are floats making a comeback? I do feel like I see them more often IRL. For instance, I visited this fantastic ice cream stand on my last trip to Aberfoyle (a giant antique market) and they had floats. Are floats contemporary again? Or were they playing on the old timey feel of an antique market? You just can’t be sure.
My meditations on the current relevancy of floats got me wondering where the hell they came from. This lead to a brief research session. And by “brief research session” I mean I pretty much just went to Wikipedia. Anyway, let me share what I learned. I, of course, understand if you don’t care and I’m not least bit offended if you choose to skip the following nerd fest. The recipe for these Black Forest Floats is located at the bottom of this page. For those of you who choose to stay, I’m very sorry to inform you that you are, in fact, a nerd. But don’t worry, you can still lead a rich, full life. Promise.
Before I get started, I have to ask Australia and New Zealand something. Guys, spiders? Really? I guess I can see the “web-like” reaction reference, but why do you have to make floats sound scary and gross? And the United States? Ice cream soda is not a name, it’s a list of ingredients. Way too on-the-nose. Okay, have I alienated everyone? Cool. Let’s press on.
Apparently, the float hails from Philadelphia, PA, circa 1874. A vendor by name of Robert McCay discovered, to what I assume was his horror, that he had run out of ice. This is pretty much a nightmare scenario if you’re serving flavored drinks. So, in a state of utter desperation, he turned to vanilla ice cream (as so many of us do) and the float was born.
But, before you too excited, this could all be bullsh*t. McCay’s story was recorded some 26 years later in Soda Fountain magazine (I know! What?) and there were at least 3 other people who claimed to have invented the float. I gave McCay the air time (blog time?) because he had the best story. George Guy just claimed he absent-mindedly mixed ice cream and soda together, like that’s something you could do without thinking about it. Whatever, Guy! Isn’t food history fun?
One last piece of trivia before I leave you to make your own batch of Black Forest Floats. Apparently, we have the float to thank for the sundae. Some parts of the world banned floats on holy days. Carbonated drinks were considered a controlled substance and, like alcohol, they couldn’t be served or purchased on Sundays. So, those who were looking for a treat after Sunday school were offered a soda-less ice cream dish called a sundae.
We have a lot to thank the float for. Sweet childhood memories, the fun of creating questionable flavor combinations, and the sundae! Celebrate the sadly disappearing treat by whipping up a couple of these Black Forest Floats over the Labor Day weekend. It would really help forward my pro-float movement.
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 batch Half Batch Fudgy Brownies, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 70 g (2.5 oz) semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 28 g (1oz) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 shot Luxardo
- 8 large scoops Brownie Bit Ice Cream
- 8 black cherries, pitted & halved
- 1/2 cup Luxardo Chocolate Syrup
- 1 bottle Black Cherry Soda
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Grease a loaf pan and create a sling using parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place chocolate, butter and cocoa in a medium-sized microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30 seconds bursts until the butter and chocolate is melted - about 1 minute. Whisk until smooth and silky. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt together. Add a small amount of the chocolate to the eggs and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining chocolate and, once again, whisk until smooth.
- Stir in the flour gradually until completely integrated.
- Transfer the brownie batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.
- Let the brownies cool completely before chopping into bite-sized pieces.
- Fill a large bowl with 1 1/2 cups of ice. Add 1 cup water and fit a smaller bowl inside. Set aside.
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar together until smooth and a pale shade of yellow.
- Pour milk and salt into a small saucepan.
- Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrap out the caviar with the back of a knife. Add the caviar and pod to the milk and heat over medium heat until on the verge of boiling. Remove from the heat.
- Pour a ladle full of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk immediately to temper the eggs.
- Add the egg mixture to the remaining milk and place over medium heat.
- Cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, then transfer to the bowl set inside the ice bath.
- Stir the mixture gently to cool it. It's ready when it's cool to the touch - about 10 -15 minutes.
- Stir in the heavy cream and transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker.
- Process the ice cream for 25 minutes or until it resembles soft serve ice cream.
- Add half of the brownie bits to the ice cream maker and process for an additional 5 minutes. You may have to add the brownie bits a handful at a time.
- Transfer the ice cream to a loaf pan and even out the surface using a rubber spatula.
- Press the remaining brownie bits into the surface of the ice cream.
- Make a seal for the ice cream using wax paper and freeze over night.
- Whisk the sugar, salt and cocoa together in a small sauce pan.
- Slowly whisk in the water and place the mixture over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the Luxardo.
- Transfer the syrup to a bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
- Chill 2 Collins glasses in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of the Chocolate syrup into each glass.
- Add 1 scoop of the brownie ice cream to each glass followed by two cherry halves. Drizzle with a little more chocolate syrup.
- Repeat until there are a total of 4 scoops of ice cream and 8 cherry halves in each glass.
- Pour black cherry soda over the ice cream and garnish with straws, additional cherries, and syrup. Serve immediately.