Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Gourmet Coke Floats with Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Salty Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Gourmet Coke Floats with Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Salty Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Coke floats are a beloved childhood memory. I enjoyed them whenever we went to Johnny Rockets, The Varsity, or at home on a hot summer day. I can't honestly think of a combination that a kid could adore more... fizzy soda and creamy ice cream, sometimes topped with some whipped cream + a cherry. It's what dreams are made of. I had been dying to put my own twist on this diner classic, and I knew it had to start with my absolute favorite homemade vanilla bean ice cream. I swear by it. I have to triple the recipe when friends are coming over. I could probably open an ice cream parlor with this as my signature flavor. I don't know why... maybe because it's unbelievably creamy and has the strongest vanilla bean essence you can imagine. Just take my word for it, people. It's a luscious, frozen custard of glory. On top of the homemade ice cream element, I was kinda feeling the idea of incorporating a caramel sauce drizzled inside the cup. Isn't that what we love most about Coca Cola, that dreamy caramel flavor with that extra fizzy element? So, why not add even more to the float? We'd be crazy not to, girl. In an attempt to make it grown up a smidge, I whipped up my go-to caramel sauce that is spiked with bourbon and generously salted with fleur de sel. Next, all you'z got to do is assemble it! We got an extra tall glass (but a mason jar works great too) and drizzled the inside of it with some of the Salty Bourbon Caramel Sauce. Then, you gotta plop about 2-3 big scoops of the Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream to fill up the cup. Finally, pour a cold can or bottle of Classic Coca Cola over the ice cream. Do this very, very slowly because if you don't, it's gonna bubble up like a volcano eruption and go every where. This is not good... and not proper etiquette when it comes to float making. As you pour the Coke, this fluffy foam rises to the top, and eventually the foam puffs up above the rim to form this sugary, caramel cloud. And because I'm a little naughty, and I like things sweet + savory, I like to garnish the top with just a pinch more of fleur de sel. But it's up to you whether or not you come to the dark side with me. Oh, and to be extra naughty, you can be like us and spike it with some vodka or bourbon, but hey, no peer pressure or anything. Also, for all you non-Coke lovers, Root Beer would be an easy substitution as well!! Enjoy :)
Salty Bourbon Caramel Sauce Drizzle 
Sugary, Caramel Soda Foam Cloud 
You see those vanilla beans... don't you??
Here's me + my girl enjoyin' Gourmet Coke Floats in mason jars in our garden
You gotta take a big gulp!
For the Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream:
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, Melted & Cooled Slightly
2 ½C Heavy Cream
½C Whole Milk
6 Egg Yolks
1C Sugar
½t Salt
1t Vanilla
2T Vanilla Bean Infused Rum (or any kind of infused booze that is clear)
2 Whole Vanilla Beans, Split & Scraped for Seeds 

For the Salty Bourbon Caramel Sauce:
1C Sugar
3T Bourbon, Divided
1t Corn Syrup
½C Heavy Cream
6T Unsalted Butter, Cut into ½inch Cubes
½t Sea Salt
1 ½t Vanilla

For the Coke Floats:
Prepared Salty Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Frozen Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Fleur de Sel, For Sprinkling (optional)
Coca Cola or Root Beer Soda
Whipped Cream, For Topping
Maraschino Cherries, For Garnishing

1. For the Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: In a saucepan, bring the cream, milk, vanilla bean pods, and vanilla bean seeds to a simmer. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until fluffy. Slowly whisk in the melted butter. Once combined, gradually and slowly into the simmering milk. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, until thickened (it should coat the back of a spoon). Strain the custard into a bowl that is placed into an ice bath. Stir in the vanilla bean infused rum and vanilla. Cool the custard base until completely chilled. Once the mixture is chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As soon as the mixture is done churning, transfer to a bowl or airtight container. Store in the freezer until firm.
2. For the Salty Bourbon Caramel Sauce: Stir together the sugar, 2T of bourbon, corn syrup, and 1T water in a deep saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat, bring to a boil without stirring, and cook, occasionally swirling the pan and brushing down the sides with a wet pastry brush, until sugar is a deep amber color, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and whisk in the heavy cream, butter, and sea salt (the mixture will bubble vigorously). Let it cool for 5 minutes, and then whisk in the remaining 1T of bourbon and vanilla. Let the bourbon caramel cool slightly on your kitchen counter. The caramel can be made 2 hours ahead of time, but continue to let the caramel stand at room temperature until you are ready to use it. Pour the caramel into a squeeze bottle and keep at room temperature, so that the caramel will be easier to drizzle inside the glass.
3. Making the Coke Floats: In a tall glass, drizzle the salty bourbon caramel sauce all over the inside of the serving glass, making sure to let the drizzle drip down the sides, and then drop about 2-3 scoops of the ice cream into the bottom of the caramel drizzled glass. Pour some Coca Cola or Root Beer over the top of the glass very slowly because the mixture will begin to bubble and can expand over the rim of the glass. Garnish the top of the drink with some whipped cream, another drizzle of the caramel sauce, and a maraschino cherry. Enjoy before the ice cream begins to melt too much!

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