Snow in the American South is a rare occurrence. Or, at least what we in Minnesota consider a healthy snowfall. But that is perhaps what makes it so special for those living south of the Mason Dixon; even more magical to build snowmen and snow forts and sit in front of the crackling fires we take for granted here.
And, even more special to have the sweet delicacy known as snow cream.
Snow cream can be made anywhere it snows, which makes it even more curious that it never caught on in the North Star State. They do it further north in Canada, but no one loves it like the Southerners do. And, as the wonky weather has led to uncharacteristically high levels of snow in the South, it is gaining popularity once again.
What is it? Just what it sounds like: The original version called for fresh fallen snow in a pan or bowl to blend with three beaten eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Eggs aren’t used as much anymore in this the new era of snow cream, but its generally the same, simple, sweet treat that it ever was: Snow, milk (condensed milk is often more common, richer, given its the South), and vanilla.
It’s also common for parents to add a little food coloring to brighten things up for children, and add a little rum or bourbon for themselves. Mixing in honey and lemon, coconut, or cocoa is popular as well. The ingredients are folded into each other in a metal bowl that keeps the whole thing as cold as need be.
Minnesota also has the perfect snow (especially after the recent blizzard) for making snow cream: The powder should be light and fluffy; not too dense or packed together. The best recipes call for snow dug from deep below the surface which will be cleaner and fresher and untouched by the toes of rabbits or squirrels.
The most romantic way, if you know that it’s going to snow, is to put a bowl outside on the front porch or top step and simply catch the snow as it falls gently from the sky.
It is best, however, to wait until the snow has been falling for a time: Those first few snowflakes will have the most atmospheric pollutants. Though these levels remain low in general, and snow cream is completely safe to eat. Snow actually cleans the atmosphere, and the longer snow falls, the cleaner both it, and the air around you, will be.
(Which would explain why Minnesota streets look so picture perfect and beautiful the longer it snows (and before the dirt and dust and soot from cars covers it sad and brown.)
Snow cream does melt much more quickly than homemade or store-bought ice cream from a carton. But, if you do choose to make some, and make it with your kids, simply setting your bowl back outside for a moment or two on a chilly Minnesota night will turn it back into dessert right before your eyes.
Minnesota snow cream
-1/3c granulated sugar-
-1c condensed milk-
-1tsp vanilla (extract)-
-pinch of salt-
Mix your ingredients together in a large metal bowl until combined. Put the bowl in the freezer for a moment while you get your (fluffy) snow from outside.
-(approx) 8 cups of snow-
Stir the snow into the milk mixture as quickly as possible. Keep adding snow until it has an ice cream-like consistency: It can be scooped; not runny.
And there you have it. Eat right away, as it does, as mentioned before, melt quite quickly.
Note: This can also be made with shaved ice, if you’re worried about snow cleanliness. But where is the fun in that?