Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats

raspberries diced peaches

Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floatssummer fruit

diced peaches with sugar diced peaches with sugar

I’ve written a thousand words to explain why–aside from a holiday gift guide–I haven’t shown up here for a year. I try to describe what the past two years have been; I rearrange the words and delete them. I wanted to have clean answers for you. I wanted to write: this is what happened; this is how I resolved it, full stop. I can’t, though. I’m still in the trenches of it. I’ve only reached the point where I feel a tug to make things again. It’s thin.

I got sick. I got the kind of sick that’s nebulous. The kind where you say, “I’m sleeping twenty hours a day, and I’ve gained forty pounds in six months,” and the doctor sends you to a dietician. Twice. The kind where every test reveals more irregularities. Finally you are prescribed medication by an endocrinologist, and it makes a small dent. And so you dive deep into Eastern remedies, but they mostly don’t work either. You spend a mess of time and money and time and money throwing your hopes and tenacity into the next thing and the next thing. You keep trudging. People have opinions about how you are not trying correctly, and you want to throw something against a wall. You relinquish gluten and dairy and sugar and alcohol. Your elbows are less dry than before, but otherwise you lose not one ounce. It feels like a weight has taken residence on your chest. You think, “am I going crazy?” In the new year, you summon the energy to begin cardio dance classes taught by amazonian former rockettes. By accident, you realize that it’s possible to move the needle by degrees, but only if you relax. And so you practice not being the type A freak you are, even though every moment is very difficult. You keep practicing. Nothing is resolved how you’d like it to be and the days are long and the years are short.

It starts to feel better to create things again than the fear and exhaustion and disingenuousness that prevented you from doing so the year before. You are reminded by a friend that hiding from writing won’t make reality untrue. You remember Flannery O’Connor who said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” And Joan Didion who mirrored, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” Writing about this thing though feels insurmountable, and so you start small, in the second person, with a recipe containing essentially three ingredients.

Maybe you are not meant to mention such things on a food blog? I don’t know. I’ve never been a particularly successful food blogger. I don’t know who will read these words. I do know I’ve felt enormously alone these past two years. I know invisible things have wreaked havoc on my mind and body, and that my feelings surrounding that fact have gone largely unanswered.

In a post about frilly ice cream floats, I’m sharing a sliver of the story, a little for me, and a little for you; if you need it. I’m trying to figure my way out of the woods. If you are too: I believe you. You are not alone.

cherries with sugar gif

mashed raspberries with sugar mashed raspberries with sugar

Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats gif

Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats vanilla ice cream Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream FloatsSummer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats

Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats

Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats

There’s nothing complex or fussy about these floats. They’re quite endlessly adaptable: use whichever summer fruits you have about: strawberries, currents, blueberries, blackberries, nectarines. (Basically, anything juicy and bright.) These floats taste more fruit-forward than outright sweet, so make sure to use the best, ripest fruit you have on hand. You can use a sweeter soda if you want to, or add a splash of grenadine, fruit syrup, or crème de cassis.

Choose (good-quality) store-bought vanilla ice cream, or double down with a fruit-flavored ice cream. (Or chocolate fudge, or peanut butter ripple!) Below though, you’ll find a Philadelphia Vanilla recipe I wrote; it’s become my go-to for dinner parties, and is really easy to make.

I like these for summer because they’re just what I want: tart, creamy and luscious. They take advantage of what the season has to offer, and are dead easy to put together. You can make it for a crowd. If you want to up the ante, cook down the fruit with sugar and aromatics (fresh herbs, pink peppercorns, ginger), or just macerate for 30 minutes, while you eat dinner.

Makes 4 floats

  • ingredients: 
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup pitted cherries
  • 1 cup diced peaches
  • 1 cup black raspberries or blackberries
  • 4 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1 liter (4 heaping cups) seltzer

  • procedure:
  •      Pour each fruit into a separate small bowl; toss each with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Let the fruit sit for fifteen minutes, or up to 1 hour.
  •      Divide the fruit between four, 8-ounce glasses. You can make single flavor floats, or mix and match the fruit. (For the photos, I used two kinds of fruit per glass.) Divide the ice cream between the four glasses–2 smallish scoops, or 1/2 cup ice cream, per glass. Just before serving, fill the glasses with seltzer. Serve with spoons and straws.

Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats

Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream FloatsSummer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream FloatsSummer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats

Philadelphia-Style Super Vanilla

This ice cream–which doesn’t require messing about with eggs or a custard base–is light and dairy forward, so use the best you can source. It’s wonderful right out of the machine, and best within the first few days of making.

I wrote this recipe for Food52’s Ice Cream and Friends. (This Serious Eats article was very helpful in the making of this recipe.)

Makes 1 quart (950ml)

  • ingredients: 
  • 1 1/4 cup (300 ml/10 oz) whole milk
  • 1 3/4 cups (415 ml/14 oz) heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons (13 grams) skim milk powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (125 grams) sugar
  • 1 split, scraped vanilla bean (both seeds and pod)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum

  • procedure:
  •      In a medium-sized pot, whisk together the milk, cream, skim milk powder, sugar, vanilla bean, vanilla extract, and rum. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer; whisk to dissolve the sugar. Chill the base in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
  •      When the base is cold, pour it through a sieve; discard the vanilla bean. Pour the base into an ice cream maker. Let the machine run based on the manufacturer’s instructions, about 35 minutes. Eat straight from the machine, fresh and soft serve-like, or spoon into a container and freeze.

cherries and raspberries with sugar Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats

Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream FloatsSummer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats

Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats

Summer Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream Floats



  1. Tracey Park

    So happy you are back and I hope, through returning to writing, you will begin to feel like yourself again even if you don’t get all the answers. I am also struggling so if you hear some other footsteps as you look for the path out if the woods… it’s me.

  2. Kristen

    Cristina – SO happy you are back! Despite your absence, I never un-favorited your blog from my browser, hoping you would return some day and continuing to find inspiration in your older posts. I have been down that same path, and emerged after much pain, time, $$$$$$$$$$ out the other side. I often think about those years and it is remarkable how different my life is now. I hope you too find your way out, and while it often feels like you are spinning your wheels, it is so worth it to keep trying.

  3. Beth Dube

    Very very happy you are back, just do whatever you can, don’t worry about the rest, and best wishes heading your way!

  4. Peony

    What a beautiful post. I wish you the best.

  5. Abi

    So glad to hear your words and see your beautiful pictures! Thank you for coming back and for sharing-you’re loved and missed! Hoping for great news in the time to come about how you’re feeling. Xoxo

  6. Karen in NH

    Just found this site after googling “fruity simple syrups” or something like that. Started browsing the site and found this page. You write beautifully, and your recipes look wonderful (LOVE the photos on this page!). I hope things get better for you — I know how scary medical things can be when no one can figure out what’s going on. I will be back at this site regularly to check out more recipes. Thank you!

  7. Zsofia

    What a beautiful post. I have missed your writing and am full of admiration for how you put something so difficult into perfect words. I am wishing you lots of strength, and that you please keep writing.

  8. Robotance

    This is such a wonderful dessert. Your creativity with these ice cream floats is brilliant. The berries look amazing. I am looking forward to trying these in my kitchen. I believe my family will love this summer treat. Thank you for sharing. God bless.

  9. Maria A.

    Very touching! I wish the best for you and find your courage to write about your struggles in this format you chose to be humbling and healing. I enjoyed reading your post about these fabulous floats and I am inspired to make some for my family and friends.

  10. Michael Simmons

    Wow! Can’t wait to make this! Looks beautiful and sounds divine.
    Thank you for this wonderful recipe and Merry Christmas!

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