Since my weekend trip up to the Northeast has turned into a weeklong winter break due to a massive snowstorm, I figured I might as well take advantage of the situation and do something I hadn’t done in probably fifteen years—make a batch of snow cream.
I vividly remember one winter when I was still in elementary school that a blizzard hit my part of Tennessee and we were out of classes for over a week. I spent much of that vacation hanging out at my parents’ restaurant, entertaining myself as well as I could. Now, said restaurant was a fine-dining establishment that was only open for dinner, so during the day I had my run of the place as long as I stayed out from under the feet of the prep cooks. In addition to sledding down the hill out back on a giant baking sheet and reenacting epic battles between dinosaurs and My Little Ponies in the dining room, I made a lot of snow cream. Since I had a whole kitchen to work with, I experimented with ingredients from mint to orange juice who knows what, but the simplest recipe is ultimately the best as far as I’m concerned. The combination of snow, heavy cream or half and half, sugar, and vanilla yields a treat that will forever produce a sense memory for me of winters in Tennessee.
When I started writing this, it was with the mind of telling NOLA readers about something they don’t really have the opportunity to enjoy, being that the main ingredient is a bit difficult to procure, but I’m realizing that the closest thing I’ve ever had to snow cream that wasn’t made from actual snow from outside my door is the New Orleans sno-ball. The texture is very similar, with real snow cream being of an only slightly grainier consistency due to the inability for the sugar to dissolve completely in the cold mixture. That super-thinly shaved ice, though, is VERY close to real snow, and with some vanilla syrup and condensed milk you have a pretty darn close approximation of the real thing.
Granted, the experience of eating a dripping sno-ball in the middle of a sweltering summer afternoon is vastly different from the insanity of giving yourself brain freeze from a food when you could just as easily step outside the door and do the same thing. Sno-balls are for cooling off; snow cream is for eating while bundled up in a blanket standing over a heater, watching the sun glint off the icicles on the window frame.
Which, if you’ll excuse me, is exactly what I’m going to do right now.