5 Ingredients or Fewer

How Now Brown Cow?

May 30, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

When we were kids, there was the occasional trip downtown to the soda fountain at the Wasson's Department Store. But for a kid growing up in the suburbs, the real summer treats were the trips to the root beer stands.

Everyone had their favorite--the original A & W, the Mug & Bun, and there was Dog and Suds. The root beer floats (brown cows) were so much better than the black cows (cola floats) but the allure of the soda fountain was all of the extras...whipped cream, jimmies (the chocolate sprinkles) and syrups.

So I've tried to combine the joys of those 2 experiences into one nostalgic treat. If you have the time to make your own ice cream, please do so. Preferably on the patio while playing horseshoes or badmitton. —lorigoldsby

What You'll Need
  • 1.5 quarts vanilla ice cream
  • 3 pints root beer
  • 1 cup Pappy's Saffafras tea concentrate, divided
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • real whipped cream
  • chocolate jimmies
  1. To make root beer syrup: Melt1/4 c. brown sugar and 1/4 c. of sassafras tea concentrate over medium high heat. Boil until liquid is reduced by half. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.
  2. Rinse soda glasses or mugs and place in freezer to frost.
  3. Mix 2 scoops of softened vanilla ice cream with 2 T. of sassafras tea concentrate, form an ice cream ball that is no bigger than the circumference of your glass. Place 2 balls into a ziploc bag, return to freezer. Repeat so that you have 2 balls for each person.
  4. When ready to serve, remove mugs and ice cream from freezer, pour root beer over ice cream (allow a lot of room for foam). Top with whipped cream, drizzle with root beer syrup and sprinkle on some chocolate jimmies.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Panfusine
  • EmilyC
  • wssmom
  • Lizthechef
  • lorigoldsby

Recipe by: lorigoldsby

I learned to cook with my Gran. I can still see her reading a recipe and figuring out how she would make it better. She was fearless about substituting ingredients--but also knowledgeable. She approached food in the same way she built her antique business--appreciate quality ingredients and workmanship, but don't be a snob. I think I carry those same beliefs in my approach to cooking. I love family style dinners, I love a fancy ladies' luncheon with my wedding china, or a backyard seafood boil to celebrate my husband's birthday...I love to share food with others.

13 Reviews

Panfusine June 2, 2011
this title reminds me of that kids cartoon show Martha speaks!! delightful!... Lorigoldsby.. could you please enlighten me on Sassafras?
lorigoldsby June 2, 2011
Sassafras is a type of tree which is native to North America, especially in the Hoosier National Forest. The root and bark is boiled to make a tea or syrup and the leaves are used by some to make a file powder for gumbos. It was used as one of the original sodas--sasparilla and sassafrass combined make the old fashioned rootbeer.

there is a variety that is found in Eastern Asia--not sure if it would have a different name? and the Sassparilla can be found in the SE Pacific...similar flavors but sassafrass has a "bite".

Alas, my kiddie tv show days are long gone...but I used that saying when I taught elementary school to illustrate the vowel dipthong. Maybe you can enjoy a root beer float (or one of Bite This's root beer popsicles) while watching the next episode....whatever you do, enjoy those little ones!
EmilyC May 31, 2011
Sounds good! Love the regional names for ice cream floats.
lorigoldsby June 1, 2011
I'm working on a "concrete" ala Ted Drewes from my childhood in St. Louis.
EmilyC June 1, 2011
I went to college in St. Louis and LOVE Ted Drewes, so I can't wait for your recipe!
lorigoldsby June 2, 2011
I just posted the concrete recipe!
wssmom May 31, 2011
LOL this brings back so many memories!!!
lorigoldsby June 1, 2011
Did you ride there in the back of a truck like we did? Best seat in the house...LOL
Lizthechef May 30, 2011
Yes, the root beer float I remember from childhood...
lorigoldsby June 1, 2011
Those memories are so sweet, aren't they?
KarenOCook May 30, 2011
Yummm. I tried this old fashioned treat and it brought back the childhood memories all right. The custom-flavored ice cream adds to the "root beery-ness" of the Brown Cow and the chocolate jimmies give it the pizzazz to make it special. My favorite part is eating the crystallized part of the ice cream as it melts from the root beer. Moo! Moo!
lorigoldsby May 30, 2011
this is the one time crystals in the ice cream is a good thing!
lorigoldsby May 30, 2011
Pappy's sassafrass is available in most groceries (in the tea aisle). It is safrole free (a carcinogen they found in the sassafrass root, which caused it to be off the market for most of the 90's). I really like mixing the concentrate into the ice cream because it gives it the "bite" that I remember.