As some folks get ready to head out to Burning Man next week, I thought I’d share a memory from a few years back. Bear with me — I promise it relates to dairy-free summer treats…
I went to my first Burning Man in 2005, thanks to my friend Jill who had an extra ticket and preyed upon my curiosity. We had an amazing time. At the end of the week, we attempted to exit the playa, an activity known as “exodus.” Sitting in our rented RV in the worst stand-still traffic I’d ever experienced, we made a list of stuff to bring to Burning Man the following year. The list consisted mostly of food items, such as “a shit-ton of Double Stuf Oreos.” (We finished off our one package on the first day.)
One of the things I wrote on the list was “root beer floats.” Why? Because there was nothing I wanted more at that moment than a root beer float. It wouldn’t have helped me get home any faster, but it would’ve made me a lot happier.
So the next year, during exodus, we whipped up some root beer floats in our RV kitchen, then ran around going up to people’s cars, giving them away. I’ll never forget the joy on people’s faces when they were gifted with this cold, sweet, homemade treat in the middle of a traffic jam in the desert.
In honor of this Burning Man memory, I made root beer floats — dairy-free versions. This was no easy task, as there aren’t many non-dairy ice creams that come in plain vanilla, and the ones I’ve tried aren’t quite right.
I tried Coconut Bliss Vanilla Island and New Barn Almond Creme in Organic Vanilla. The Coconut Bliss tasted too much like coconut, and the New Barn Almond Creme tasted too much like almonds. My theory is that because vanilla is such a mild flavor, it can’t mask the base. Of these two, the Coconut Bliss had a better texture; the New Barn was slightly chalky and had an odd aftertaste.
With the caveat that neither of these ice creams is great, I’m including my root beer float recipe below. Experiment with your own non-dairy ice creams and let me know if you can recommend a good dairy-free vanilla. Call me vanilla, but I’m one of those weird people who actually like vanilla.
And for those of you heading to the playa next week, have a great Burn!
Dairy-Free Root Beer Float Recipe
2 or 3 scoops of non-dairy vanilla ice cream
8 ounces cold root beer (I like the classic A&W)
Scoop ice cream into a chilled glass. Pour in root beer — do it slowly or it will overflow. Serve with a straw and a long spoon.