Homemade Vanilla Bean Cream Soda

June 27, 2012

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I grew up drinking Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda. I loved it. I would go to Art’s Deli with my dad and nothing made me happier than a big bowl of matzo ball soup, a potato knish, and a bottle of cream soda. Oh, how wonderful it would be to be 14 again and eat all the carbs one desires. Sigh….

Just recently, my two older boys were dining with friends at our favorite, local deli; Factors, and it was here that they discovered Dr. Brown’s. A bit of nostalgia crept in along with a smile. Going to Art’s with my dad was always a treat, whether I got my “usual” or shared a corn beef sandwich with him, Dr. Brown’s always accompanied my meal. So, I find it only natural that my kids taste a bit of my childhood while they enjoy their favorite meal at our neighborhood deli.

One problem. We have a no soda rule in our house. They have become really respectful of the rule, however there are those times that they are with friends and the mom orders the drinks without hesitation. The open bottle of either black cherry or cream soda is too tempting. They are 11 and 14 after all, and I do let some things slide.

Instead of always saying no, whether in the super market or at a restaurant, I chose to try my hand at making one of their favorite at home. Granted, this is not going to become a household staple, but a rare treat always brings smiles to their faces and there is nothing wrong with seeing their eyes light up at that first sip or taste.

The first batch was made with a few fresh vanilla beans. Didn’t really taste like much. Then I remembered an almost full jar of vanilla bean paste in my baking pantry. Lately, I have been using it to make homemade chocolate syrup or cupcakes, but not enough to make a dent in the jar.

This ingredient was the ticket to a winning beverage. Coupled with pure, organic cane sugar, a very, very small pinch of Celtic sea salt (cuts down on the sweetness), the end result was better than the original.  After one glass, my kids begged for more. Keeping a small bottle of vanilla bean simple syrup in the fridge, along side a bottle of your favorite bubbly water, an afternoon sweet treat was born.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Cream Soda
yield: 2 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
2 cups water
a pinch of Celtic sea salt
4 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
1 vanilla bean pod, split down the middle, seeds removed(save the seeds for something wonderful)
bubbly water

• combine sugar, water, Celtic sea salt, and vanilla bean pod.
• over medium heat, bring to a simmer until sugar is dissolved. simmer for 5 minutes.
• whisk in vanilla bean paste. let steep and cool to room temperature.
• remove vanilla bean pod*.
• store in a glass jar in the fridge, indefinitely (if it lasts more than 2 days).
to assemble:
• place 1 – 2 tablespoons of vanilla bean syrup (depending on how sweet you like it) in a glass. add 12 ounces of bubbly water to the glass. stir. add ice. drink slowly; make it last!

* I keep a jar of vanilla sugar in my baking pantry. let vanilla bean pod dry out. once dry throw in your jar of vanilla sugar. I use pure, organic cane sugar and when I have left over pods, I toss them into the covered jar. Using vanilla sugar on top of crisps or sprinkled on pie crusts is a win win all the way around!

More Homemade Soda around the Web:
Homemade Orange Soda – Family Kitchen on Babble
Blood Orange Italian Soda – The Delicious Philosophy
Pink Dragon Fruit Soda – Kitchen Konfidence
Strawberry Limeade Soda – The Urban Baker
Homemade Creamy Limoncello – Dine and Dish

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristen June 28, 2012 at 4:31 am

Oh girl, this looks right up my alley… a definite childhood favorite!
I would have never thought to make my own. I’m impressed (and your pics are incredible!)


2 Susan June 28, 2012 at 6:18 am

It’s as easy as making a batch of simple syrup (which is a fridge staple)! You will love this!


3 Allison [Girl's Guide to Social Media] June 28, 2012 at 4:36 am

Amazing!! That first photo of the cream soda over ice is making my so thirsty right now.


4 Susan June 28, 2012 at 6:17 am

It’s so good that I am already thinking of the “boozy” component to this one!


5 Toni @ Boulder Locavore June 28, 2012 at 5:23 am

Love your approach on the soda and your recipe looks great, can’t wait to try it with my crew. We too are not soda drinkers as a norm however I think exposure is important. Without that kids cannot make good choices in the situations you describe. You’ve offered a perfect alternative at times soda drinking may be desired or needed out of no other options.


6 Susan June 28, 2012 at 6:19 am

It’s so hard to control everything, Toni. Sometimes you just have to let things go and know that your kids will make the right decisions when not around!


7 Lucy Lean June 28, 2012 at 6:44 am

Love this idea – would it work to add vanilla ice cream and make a float?


8 Susan June 28, 2012 at 6:46 am

You and I are on the same page, Lucy. Also thinking of the boozy component!


9 Amanda June 28, 2012 at 7:13 am

Genius! I would never have thought of using the paste… it looks simply amazing as well!!


10 HeatherChristo June 28, 2012 at 7:23 am

Susan these are really beautiful- what a great idea!


11 aida mollenkamp June 28, 2012 at 7:43 am

This is one of my favorite soda flavors yet I too think of soda as a treat. Thanks for this, Susan!


12 Just A Smidgen June 28, 2012 at 8:14 am

There’s nothing like food that can conjure up a memory so vividly. This looks like such a refreshing drink. We have W Sonoma here so I’ll be picking up some of that paste! xx Smidge


13 Susan June 29, 2012 at 7:31 am

I think you also may be able to get the paste on line via Amazon. Where ever you find it, it will become your most coveted pantry staple!


14 Nancy@acommunaltable June 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

Brilliant!!! I love cream soda and I can’t wait to try this – I also thought about making a float with it as well!!! Treats like this are great!!!


15 Susan June 29, 2012 at 7:32 am

Where have you been? It is so good to see your name in my inbox! We must find some time this summer to lunch and chat! xx


16 Nancy@acommunaltable June 29, 2012 at 9:51 am

Hi Susan!

It’s been crazy – we were in Europe for a couple of weeks and I got really, really sick when we got home! To top it off, I strained my back last week and so my computer time has been pretty limited. Evidently, the powers that be are telling me I shouldn’t have come home from Europe:-)!!
We DEFINITELY need to get together for lunch soon! I am hopefully taking my registration exam in the next two weeks and then my desk will be clear…. or as clear as it’s gonna get anyway!!


17 Susan July 3, 2012 at 8:08 pm

So sorry you got so sick, Nancy. I hope you are feeling better and getting back to your old self. Let’s try and carve out a little smidge of time to see one another! xxx


18 marla June 28, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Ha! I just commented on a post from March. Now I am on the right one….anyways this soda looks great Susan!


19 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen July 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Now that’s the way to enjoy soda, with real ingredients and none of that terrible HFCS.


20 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. July 4, 2012 at 7:03 am

oh wow! I missed this somehow! Very cool and great photo


21 Susan July 4, 2012 at 7:41 am

Thanks, Alison. It truly was a wonderful treat – one that I will certainly make again!


22 Cathy @ Noble Pig July 4, 2012 at 7:09 am

Love this…my kids would eat it up…WOW! Beautiful blog too…my first time here!


23 Susan July 4, 2012 at 7:40 am

Hi Cathy – welcome and yes, your kids would love this! The syrup disappeared with in days and they are begging for more. Thanks for coming by and have a safe and fun 4th!


24 Kristina Vanni July 4, 2012 at 11:05 am

I love this recipe – brings me back to childhood summers! Thanks for sharing!


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