For those who are checking the calendar: No, it’s not April 1st, and yes, “snow cream” is really a thing!
Even if you don’t love the cold, there are ways to embrace winter–at any age! And if you truly embrace this season for the myriad of outdoor activities and true beauty that it affords, this fun treat is for you, too.
Like most kids, my older sister and I loved to eat freshly fallen snow when we were little. We’d pack it into paper cups and drizzle orange juice—or Kool-Aid if we were lucky enough to find a stash in the cupboard—overtop to create homemade snow cones. But we thought we were really special when we learned how to turn a big bowl of snow into our favorite frozen dessert.
When the first snow arrived this year, my sister-in-law mentioned how much my young nieces enjoy eating snow by the fluffy handful. This seemed like the perfect excuse to text her my “recipe” for snow cream. Embracing the snow day, she drove immediately to the store to get the one ingredient she was lacking and they got to work, texting photos that showed my nieces’ complete enjoyment of their new activity.
Because I knew I didn’t dream up snow cream (at least the version that actually tasted good!) on my own all those years ago, I Googled the origins of this snowstorm delight. Sure enough, it has its own Wikipedia page. As expected, the origins are hard to verify, but it clearly explains that by “adding a small amount of dairy-based liquid and a flavoring agent into clean snow, the snow melts and congeals into a simple ice cream substitute.”
As described on the Wikipedia page, many recipes call for milk and sugar, but I like to use sweetened condensed milk. It’s thicker, so the snow doesn’t melt as much when added. I think the flavor is better, too. For those who may have a milk allergy, I recently saw sweetened condensed milk made with coconut milk. I haven’t tried it but it might be a good option.
- Clean, fresh, white snow (about 12 cups)
- 1 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk (fat free works if you prefer it; you will likely use about half the can)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- Optional: sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc.
- Fill a large bowl with clean, fresh snow. I start with about 12 cups (scooping with my Pyrex quart measure and filling it to the very top twice), but sometimes go back for more if the snow is light and dry or I get a little heavy-handed with the condensed milk. Tip: leave the bowl outside for a few minutes before filling to help keep the snow frozen once you go inside.
- Drizzle in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. I start with about 1/3 to 1/2 of the can of sweetened condensed milk. (No need to measure; this is not an exact science.) Stir to incorporate; the snow will reduce by at least half. If the snow cream is too wet or too sweet, scoop some more snow and fold it into the mixture.
- When the mixture resembles ice cream and is scoop-able, serve with toppings of choice or plain and enjoy the winter day!
- Snow cream will freeze fairly hard when stored in the freezer, so it is best enjoyed immediately. (But transfer any leftovers to a freezer-safe container just in case. Many kids—and even adults—will still enjoy it!)
The mixture will look dry and crumbly at first, especially when using snow that’s very light and fluffy, but keep stirring.
There are no exact measurements. The precise amount of condensed milk will depend on the type of snow and personal preference. Once the snow can be packed into an ice cream scoop–or it simply tastes right to you–it’s ready. Sprinkles are fun, but completely optional.