Diving headlong into the heat of summer and dreaming of a cold, not-too-sweet treat? That's where I was when I decided I had to make an herbal ice cream float with homemade chamomile soda. Wild chamomile grows rampantly in my weedy front yard. We're having the patchy grass removed, which led me to pick all of the chamomile before the landscaper's trucks came along. In the midst of that hot, sweaty chore, a vision of chamomile ice cream floats drifted into my head.
The yellowy-green buds of the wild chamomile are abundant right now, and their scent as I picked the plants inspired a chamomile simple syrup. From there, it was only a hop, skip, and a scoop to frothy herbal floats.
For the syrup: 1 cup water 1 cup sugar 1 cup chamomile buds
For the milkshakes: Vanilla ice cream 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) chilled sparkling soda
In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the chamomile buds and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Strain buds and let syrup cool.
Scoop vanilla ice cream into a chilled glass. Mix 2 tablespoons of syrup with the sparkling soda, and pour the soda mixture over the ice cream. If you like a slightly frozen foam on top of your float, try putting the whole thing back in the freezer before drinking.
If you don't happen to have chamomile growing like a weed outside your front door, you can steep a couple of chamomile tea bags in the hot sugar/water mixture for 15 minutes. Or try your local farmer's market for a possible source of fresh chamomile buds.
The extra chamomile simple syrup can be stored in a sealed container in a cool, dark cabinet. Use it for more floats or a less indulgent treat of simple chamomile soda.