You can spend four years in Houston and not see snow once. In the snowy Rust Belt they remain ignorant. But in between where the proper snow is a rare occurrence exists a magical treat known as snow cream. Snow cream is, simply put, an ice cream substitute made from fresh, powdery snow.
And I, a hillbilly transplanted to a Rust Belt ready with veritable feet of good snow, will teach you the trick to making perfect snow cream.
Snow cream was a rare treat growing up. You need freshly fallen snow. Enough to fill a bowl. And it needs to be powdery, not icy. Growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, that was something hard to come by. In a good year we might get to have snow cream a few times. We might also go a few years without having it at all. We went so long one time my dad forgot how to make it (pro tip: don’t forget the sugar).
I left for college and learned the benefits of adding liquor (and learned that a canoe makes a great sled). I left for the Rust Belt (twice) and learned that people up here don’t even know what snow cream is. That’s what you call snow privilege.
Snow (fresh, powdery)
The first trick is watching the forecast for a coming snow. Put a bowl out to collect your snow. (Do not use old snow.)
The snow will start melting as soon as you walk back inside, so be ready to move fast. Have your ingredients out and ready.
Whole milk works best. Half and half surprising does not work well. The consistency isn’t right. Sweetened condensed milk won’t work for the same reason.
As my dad and I learned, don’t skip the sugar. But a little goes a long way. One spoonful is plenty for a single bowl of snow cream.
A little vanilla goes a long way too. A few drops will do. (Booze adds additional flavor as well.)
In you want to make it a boozy snow cream, dark rum, coffee liqueur, and Irish cream all work well. Stick your booze in the fridge when you put out your bowl so it doesn’t melt the snow too fast. And keep in mind that you will need to use less milk to keep the consistency right.
The tricky part is that your snow will be continuously melting and that the volume will dramatically decrease once you introduce it to liquids. Remember: you can always add more milk; you can’t add more snow unless you set some aside when you start. Put the sugar in first while your spoon is still dry. Add the vanilla next so you don’t forget. The hard part is adding the milk (and booze, if you’re adding booze). Start small. A little will go a lot longer than you expect. Add some, stir vigorously, see where that gets you. Add some more. Stop before you strictly speaking think you need to. Again, the consistency is only going to get more liquidy. Eat immediately.
It’s a slushy concoction. I know it’s the era of triple-thick milkshakes, but, one, that’s just ice cream in a cup, and, two, adding milk to your bowl of ice cream is awesome. There, I just gave you a second free bit of delicious hillbilly learning. And like instant coffee on a cold morning camping in the back country, no small part of the joy of snow cream is the experience and its rarity.