A Vacation in the Yucatan and an Ice Cream Float Recipe

November 19, 2020  |  By Peg Kern
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Enjoying the sunset during a beach vacation with The International Kitchen.The Yucatan… a land of sun, Mayan ruins, and a cuisine influenced both by Caribbean and European cultures. This beautiful locale is also a wonderful destination when planning a family-friendly culinary vacation getaway. Plus, Mexico makes a great escape during the cold-weather months with its tropical climate. (The temperatures reach at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit nearly all year round!)

Travel to Mexico with our Culinary Yucatan tour.

A view of the ruins in Mexico at UxmalWith its hot weather climate, the region also has some wonderful ways to cool off, and that’s not just referring to dipping your toes in the crystal clear waters. Ice creams are another delectable way to savor the flavors of the region, and one such recipe — fun to make with your kids — is the Mexican version of an ice cream float. Down in the Yucatan it goes by the name champola.

Discover all our cooking vacations in Mexico.

Originally made in the Caribbean, this dessert was more like a smoothie, made as it was with gaunábana (a tropical fruit), milk, and sugar. When it came to the Yucatan about six decades ago, the recipe was modified and further simplified as a glass of milk with a scoop of ice cream or sorbet, although it was still often made with gaunábana.

Today though don’t be surprised for the champola to be made with horchata, an almond milk, and as our partners in the Yucatan encourage: have fun with the flavors and mix up the kind the ice creams you mix with the horchata!

Try a recipe for caramel ice cream, or a recipe for Mexican chocolate ice cream.

Champola, or ice cream floatThis recipe is, naturally, super simple, and a great way to cool down after a day of fun in the sun with the kids.

Mexican Ice Cream Float

Serves 2
Prep time: 10 minutes (plus steeping time)
Cook time: 0 minutes
Cook method: Blend, Assemble


  • 1/2 cup long grain uncooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup blanched, peeled almonds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
  • 3 cups cold water (or 2 cups water, 1 cup whole milk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups ice cream of choice

Instructions:Drinking a frothy, cold horchata during a cooking vacation in Mexico.

1. First make the horchata. Blend the uncooked rice, almonds, and cinnamon stick in a blender or food processor until very fine. Add the sugar and 2 cups of the water, then blend or pulse again. Add the rest of the ingredients. (If you’d like a traditional Mexican horchata, use only water. But if you prefer the slightly creamier version you find in the U.S., feel free to use 1 cup whole milk.)

2. Chill for 8-10 hours. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and store in the refrigerator.

3. To make one float, pour eight ounces of horchata into a glass. Then add the ice cream right on top of the milk, and enjoy with a spoon and straw – it’s just that easy!

For more interesting food history, and to learn more about the cuisine of Mexico, travel with the International Kitchen on our Culinary Yucatan cooking vacation.

Traditional Mexican spices for a mole making cooking class in Mexico.Check our more Yucatecan recipes:

Try another great recipe featuring ice cream: Brownie Sundaes!

By Peg Kern

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