An editor’s guide to ‘snow cream’
As snow hits, our editor shares a favorite nostalgia-laced recipe.
January 12, 2018
Begin scene: Me, at the age of six. The pants I’m wearing are so puffy that I waddle. My mother made me wear them, despite my protests that I could stay warm in a pair of jeans. I open the door of my suburban home (memories of the place are now awash in nostalgic, smudged tones) to a blinding landscape: snow.
It’s the reason I don’t have to get up and climb on the bus or spend my day at a desk.
Mom reaches outside the threshold of our front door and hands me a tupperware.
“Grab the snow with this. Don’t scoop up dirt or anything that looks stained.”
She quickly retreats back inside, my face already red from the wind (despite the efforts of my outfit). I plow through and find a patch. Inside, I pour condensed milk and sprinkle sugar over my collection: Snow cream. I dot it in blue and green food coloring, the snow already melting as I take off my gear.
My sister asks for the other half, I oblige.
Snow Cream is, as its name suggests, defined as a snow-based dessert that uses actual precipitation as its main ingredient, acting as a sub for ice cream. Its ingredients are simple:
- one gallon of snow
- one cup of sugar
- one tablespoon vanilla (to taste, or not at all. Cocoa powder, cinnamon or fruit are also popular add-ins).
- pinch of salt
- two cups of milk (dairy or alternative)
- a few drops of food coloring (bonus: use yellow to prank your siblings like I did as a wild kid).
And, well, you mix it together, put it in a bowl, put the rest in a freezer and eat it. Nature’s dessert. Voila.
To be fair, my family never really measured it out. The essence of the dessert is in its spontaneity and reckless abandon of the rules. Grabbing stuff on the ground and eating it? Snow cream was the only time my parents justified such acts. In the world of sweets, it’s chaotic neutral. And honestly, eating the stuff was my favorite part of snow days.
Though the exact origins are unknown, it’s safe to infer that snow cream rose to its platform probably because a villager fell face-first, ate some of it and decided, “Hey, this isn’t so bad.”
Though, I should say, take precaution of where you scoop the good stuff.
The ground can be dirty, after all. Steer clear of grey sludge (ingredients unclear).