Olivia Dish

Variations on a Snow Cream

In Beverages, Homemade, Sweets on January 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm

A bowl of snowy goodness

I’ve never understood the attraction of snow cream. In my experience, it always turned out a watery, milky mess.  Once I tried pouring maple syrup over snow, the way they did in Little House on the Prairie (the book is one of my major culinary influences, by the way), hoping to get some kind of frozen candy effect. Nothing.

snowy backyard

A snowy day in the South is always a holiday.

Over Christmas, my mom was recalling the joys of snow cream in her youth. “We didn’t have ice cream all the time, so it was a real treat for us,” she said. Today, we have plenty of snow to burn, so I decided to set past disappointments aside and give it a go. I mixed sugar and a bit of vanilla bean into milk. I scooped up a big bowl of snow from my backyard. Then I combined to make a slushy. It was pretty decent, sort of a milky granita.

Which got me thinking about other possibilities.  How about espresso and snow?  Or bourbon and snow?  A day of experimenting lay ahead…

greek yogurt

Creamy Greek yogurt and honey make great snow cream.

Greek Yogurt and Honey Snow Cream
I mixed a dollop of yogurt with a swirl of honey, then added a large scoop of snow and blended. Really good!  Much creamier in texture, and I liked the tang, which was a bit like buttermilk ice cream. In fact, I liked it so much, I had a second bowl.

Espresso Snow Cream
I really like espresso granita, which I first started making back in 2001 while working on a Food Network show called Cooking Thin.  I love to create parfaits, layers of espresso granita and lightly sweetened whipped cream. The granita freezes the cream just a little. It’s tastier than a lot of ice creams.

So I had high hopes that I could make an instant granita by combining espresso, a little of my leftover vanilla-flavored milk, and a big scoop of snow. It didn’t quite work–even though the espresso was strong, the snow watered it down too much. It tasted like a sad, cold cup of fast-food coffee. Yuck.

bourbon and honey

Gold Rush goes great with snow.

Gold Rush Snow Cream
As the cocktail hour approached, I pondered using snow to make a variation on the Gold Rush, the drink that cured what ailed me. Should I just use bourbon, lemon and honey plus snow? Or did it need milk in order to be a snow cream? Only one way to find out.

By this time, a heavy crust of ice had formed on the snow in my backyard. I pulled on my boots, cracked through the ice with a metal spoon, and filled up a fresh bowl with the fluffy stuff beneath.

Using snow in place of ice in a Gold Rush turned out to be a great idea–a lovely drink for a snowy day, absolutely.  I wanted to invite friends over to share in the discovery.

glass of snow

Well, officer, it started with this innocent little glass of snow....

Adding milk, however, is a bad idea. The only way I know how to describe the taste is creepy. I actually poured it out; yes, bourbon (well, just a little), down the drain.

Limoncello Snow Crema
As I rinsed my glass, I remembered that I had just the tiniest amount of my limoncello crema left in the freezer. It seemed like the perfect thing to use to make an adult snow cream–and it was. A couple of teaspoons mixed with a scoop of ice was like a delicious, boozy dessert. If only I had more limoncello on hand–though maybe it’s a good thing I don’t.

PS: If you’re concerned about whether snow is safe to consume (pollutants, bacteria, etc.), here’s an article that takes a look at that.

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