Rhubarb Vanilla Floats with Lemon Ricotta Ice Cream

Rhubarb Vanilla Floats with Lemon Ricotta Ice Cream
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Sometimes failed desserts turn into something delicious. And when I say “sometimes” I really do mean it. Most of the time when a dessert fails you’re left with a cake that could double as a doorstop or nougat that could chip a tooth. But that’s not what happened this time. No, this time my failed cake turned into a round of these excellent Rhubarb Vanilla Floats. And if you’re confused as to how a cake turned into an ice cream float, I don’t blame you. It sounds nonsensical. 

Once upon a time, I was trying to make a semolina cake with poached rhubarb. The idea was to make the semolina cake and poach the rhubarb, then soak the cake in the syrup from the poached rhubarb. I whipped up a mascarpone frosting to crown the cake and topped it with the poached rhubarb. It looked beautiful, smelled delicious, and I was certain I’d hit a home run. But when I cut into the cake I was horrified to find the rhubarb syrup had turned the interior of the cake blue. So I tried it again with a different baking powder and the same thing happened. It looked truly awful. The cake itself tasted amazing but it looked like it hard turned. Not exactly the stuff of cake dreams.

So in the end I abandoned the cake and I’ve been slowly eating it out of the freezer ever since. But I didn’t abandon the rhubarb syrup. It was too beautiful and tasty to give up on. So the syrup from that failed cake experiment found its way into these Rhubarb Vanilla Floats. And that, my friends, is how a cake turns into an ice cream float. 

Rhubarb Vanilla Floats with Lemon Ricotta Ice Cream

Now, with their origin story out of the way, let’s talk about these floats. These floats feature scoops of Lemon Ricotta Ice Cream drowned in a Rhubarb Vanilla Soda. The soda itself is a combination of the syrup derived from poaching rhubarb in sugar water alongside a vanilla bean and a few pieces of fresh ginger, a splash of orange blossom water, and soda water. The soda is the most brilliant shade of pink and it tastes like a high-end cream soda.

The lemon ricotta ice cream tastes a little like cheesecake. It has a creaminess that gives body to the float as it melts into the soda. The result is a refreshing, summer-friendly sip that is relatively easy to put together. And there are plenty of opportunities to cut corners in this recipe, including cutting it in half. These Rhubarb Vanilla Floats will work equally as well with storebought ice cream. So if you’re short on time, grab your favorite pint of vanilla and call it a day.

So that’s everything you need to know about these Rhubarb Vanilla Floats. Peep the video below if you’d like to see the recipe in action. And if you like the video don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel, I post a new video every week.


Rhubarb Vanilla Floats with Lemon Ricotta Ice Cream

Rhubarb Vanilla Floats with Lemon Ricotta Ice Cream

These Rhubarb Vanilla Floats feature scoops of lemon ricotta ice cream drowned in Rhubarb Vanilla Soda topped with cherries, mint, and lemon.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Freezing/Chilling Time 8 hours
Course Dessert
Servings 4


  • Ice Cream Maker
  • Large skillet
  • Food Processor
  • small saucepan
  • Loaf pan


Rhubarb Vanilla Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 (1-inch) knob ginger cut into medallions
  • 1 vanilla bean splite lengthwise, caviar removed
  • 454g (1lb) fresh rhubarb cut into evenly sized batons
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water

Lemon Scented Ricotta Ice Cream

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ lemon zested
  • 5 large egg yolk lightly beaten
  • 475g (16oz) full-fat ricotta
  • ¼ cup honey

To Assemble

  • 4 cups Sparkling water
  • 1 cup Vanilla Rhubarb Syrup
  • 1 batch Lemon-Scented Ricotta Ice Cream
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint
  • 12 bourbon-soaked cherries**
  • 4 lemonn slices


For the Syrup

  • Pour the water and sugar into a large skillet. Add the ginger and vanilla bean caviar and pod  and bring it to a gentle simmer. Add the rhubarb and disperse it in an even layer across the surface of the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer 7-10 minutes, flipping the rhubarb every so often.
  • Once the rhubarb is soft enough to be easily pierced with a knife, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Add a teaspoon of orange blossom syrup and let cool on the counter before transferring to the fridge to chill completely. As far as the leftover rhubarb goes, you can save it from pies, tarts or muffins. Whatever you choose, be sure to remove and reserve the vanilla bean pod.

For the Ice Cream

  • Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add the sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Remember that vanilla pod we rescued? We’re going to add it to saucepan as well. Gently heat the mixture over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and steam begins to gather on the surface of the milk. Reduce the heat to low and ladle some of the milk mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly to temper the eggs
  • Once the eggs are tempered, pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan and continue to cook gently until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer and let cool on the counter before transferring to the fridge. Let chill for at least 1 hour.
  • While the custard is chilling, place the ricotta in a large food processor. Add a 1/4 cup of honey and blitz until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill until ready to use.
  • Once the custard has chilled, place the ricotta mixture into a large container with a spout. Add the custard and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn for 15 minutes or until the ice cream resembles soft serve. Transfer the ice cream to a chilled loaf pan and cover and freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight.

To Asseble

  • When you’re ready to make the float, load a pitcher up with ice and add the Rhubarb Vanilla Syrup and the chilled sparkling water and stir to combine
  • Place three scoops of the ricotta ice cream in 4 Collins glassed and top with the Rhubarb Vanilla Soda. Garnish with a lemon slice, fresh mint, and a skewer of bourbon soaked cherries. Serve immediately.


** you can substitute the bourbon-soaked cherries for Maraschino or Luxardo cherries.
Keyword float, ice cream, lemon, rhubarb, ricotta, vanilla

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