I used to be obsessed with root beer floats as a kid. We always seemed to have that shitty comes-in-a-giant-tub ice cream lying around (my mom wisely saved the Haagen-Dazs for herself), so I think it was my way of making it more edible. But then I went to college and starting buying my own Haagen-Dazs. And then I found places like Molly Moon’s and Salt & Straw. And THEN I discovered boozy milkshakes. Ohhhh lordy.
I might have entirely forgotten about floats in favor of these more recent delights, except that a wonderful friend made me one of these for my birthday. And I went CRAZY for it and made it over and over and adapted it to its current state of sheer perfection.
The ginger beer in this is so delish. I’d never seen a float made with anything other than root beer, or just beer. But now I want to try them with all kinds of sodas! Also the rhubarb vanilla jam is crazy versatile; it’s so good on scones and pancakes and who knows what else.
Rhubarb Ginger Beer Float
Adapted from Martha Stewart
2 pounds rhubarb,chopped (about 6 1/2 cups)
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice (or water)
2 vanilla beans (or a splash of vanilla extract)
High quality vanilla ice cream (no tubs!)
Add the rhubarb, sugar, and orange juice to a large saucepan. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the mixture. (Add the bean as well, if you like). Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until it’s fairly thick and it sticks to the back of your spoon. Ladle into hot sterile jars, and seal.
Once it’s cool, layer scoops of the jam with scoops of ice cream, then pour the ginger beer over the top. For maximum deliciousness, use way too much ice cream : )
P.S. While writing this, I did that thing where you start repeating the word over and over in your head until the spelling starts to freak you out. But “rhubarb” really is the weirdest word, right?