Looking for a fun dessert that you can make in just a matter of minutes? These Sparkling Apple Cider Floats are just the thing! Cold, bubbly, tart-sweet apple cider, vanilla bean ice cream, drizzles of caramel sauce. Yeah, baby. It totally works.
An Apple Cider Float is an excellent treat to serve all year long, but is especially fun to Celebrate New Year’s Eve With Kids. You have your own bubbly, and they have theirs! I’ve also included some adult variations on this one, too.
There’s always room for dessert, am I right? Only sometimes, coming up with a creative dessert idea or drumming up the energy to bake said dessert can be a littler harder than one would think.
I mean, we are talking about dessert, right?
It pays to have a repertoire of quick desserts to draw from, desserts that can be made in a matter of minutes with regular kitchen staples.
No need to shop all over town for fancy ingredients. No need to time the baking and cooling and finishing of the dessert. Just mix and serve. An Apple Cider Float fills that need.
Why Make This
These Apple Cider Floats are a perfect easy dessert. Not only can you easily stash a carton of ice cream in the freezer and sparkling cider and caramel syrup in the pantry, but you can mix up a tray of these babies in minutes…. AND look like the hostess with the mostest!
They’re super affordable. At regular prices, you can expect to pay less than a dollar for each generous serving. Stock up at sales and an apple cider float will cost even less.
Here’s what you need to make Sparkling Apple Cider Floats:
Just three basic ingredients!
vanilla ice cream – You can buy it or make homemade vanilla ice cream, it’s up to you. While vanilla is a classic pairing, you may find other flavors that sound good to you such as cinnamon or caramel flavored ice creams or gelatos. Avoid any that have nuts, pretzels, or chunks of dough as those don’t really go well in apple cider floats.
sparkling apple cider – Choose your favorite brand sparkling apple cider. Pure apple is standard, but brands like Martinelli’s now make combinations of raspberry, peach, pomegranate and grape apple ciders. See the variations for a hot version of this apple cider float.
caramel sauce – Apples and caramel are a classic combo, so topping your apple cider float with a caramel drizzle is a pretty natural step. Use the leftover sauce to serve with Caramel Apple Slices. See the variations for more topping options.
For a hot drink, make a hot apple cider float, not sparkling. You can top it with ice cream as you would Salted Caramel Affogato or top it with whipped cream like a standard hot coffee drink.
For an alcoholic option, consider serving these with hard cider or adding a shot of whiskey or rum to the apple cider.
For alternative toppings, sprinkle the tops with raw sugar, cinnamon sugar, or finely ground cinnamon.
Sparkling Apple Cider Floats are so easy to make! Here’s what to do:
- Chill the glasses and the cider prior to serving. Bring the caramel syrup to a drizzle consistency by letting it sit at room temperature for awhile if it’s been refrigerated.
- In each chilled glass place two scoops of ice cream. Pour cider over the ice cream. Drizzle caramel sauce over the foam.
- Serve the apple cider floats immediately.
FAQs & Recipe Costs
An ice cream float and an ice cream soda are very closely related. A float is a soft drink (like root beer) with scoops of ice cream floating in it. An ice cream soda is a dessert of ice cream scoops topped with a flavored soft drink or soda water and flavored syrup.
While most people think of soft drinks as carbonated colas and the like, soft drink is merely a generic term for non-alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages are “hard”; other beverages are soft. So technically, sparkling apple cider falls under the soft drink category.
Regardless of what you call it — the difference between the two desserts is a question of added syrup — an ice cream float and an ice cream soda are made in similar ways. And they are best made with very cold liquid, very cold glasses, and of course cold ice cream.
Going along with the cold theme, it’s best to use room temperature syrup in order to get the right drizzle. Heating cold syrup will get you there, but then you’re warming up your ice cream soda.
Whenever possible, plan ahead and chill your glasses and beverage.
Apple cider is apple juice that hasn’t been filtered to remove sediment or bits of pulp. It has a more apple-y flavor, according to some. Commercial sparkling apple cider, such as Martinelli’s, is carbonated apple juice.
Knowing how much it costs you to prepare a recipe can help you decide if it’s the type of recipe to make regularly or one you might want to save for special occasions. Let’s crunch some numbers and see how this recipe pencils out.
- caramel syrup – $0.20
- vanilla ice cream – $0.88
- sparkling apple cider – $2.49
While your costs may vary depending on where and how you shop, you can expect to pay about $3.57 for a batch of Apple Cider Floats, about $0.90/serving.
To make this recipe more economical:
- Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. Ice cream tends to go on sale fairly often; same with ice cream toppings. Watch for sales and stock up. I usually buy several flavors at one time and stash them in the freezer. Near the holidays you’ll find sparkling cider at super cheap prices. It stays good for awhile, so don’t hesitate to buy a few extra bottles.
- Make your own ice cream. Depending on your sourcing options and how much time you have, it may be cheaper to make your own ice cream. Talk about taking this dessert over the top!
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Sparkling Apple Cider Floats
- 4 teaspoon caramel syrup at room temperature
- 8 scoops vanilla ice cream from a 1.5 quart container
- 1 25.4 oz bottle sparkling apple cider
- Chill the glasses and the cider prior to serving.
- Warm the caramel syrup to a drizzle consistency. It’s best to let it come to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, in each chilled glass place two scoops of ice cream. Pour cider over the ice cream. Drizzle caramel sauce over the foam.
- Serve immediately.
This post was originally published on October 26, 2011. It has been updated for content and clarity.