Introduction: Maple Pecan Snow Cream
This is a quick and delicious recipe for a "snow ice cream". What makes this recipe different from many other recipes out there is that it is made entirely from shelf-stable pantry items (save the snow) and does NOT require any cooking. That means you can keep the supplies on hand for that next unpredictable Snowpocalypse and not have to worry about them going bad, and you can have it in your mouth in under 5 minutes from the first moment you decide you want something sweet.
While I call it "snow cream" because it is cold and served in a similar manner to ice cream, please know that the texture is entirely different. I feel like it should have a better name that doesn't imply that it is just a knock off and inferior attempt at ice cream, as I think it stands on its own unique merits. Nothing melts on your tongue quite like the fine crystalline structure of snow.
Back Ground: Growing up in the rural Cascade Mountains of Washington State my family would often get snowed in for a few days, many times without electricity. During those times, my mom would raid the pantry and whip up something she called "Snowcream" to make the days a little more exciting and to ward off cabin fever. The 2 flavors she made most often were Maple Nut and Peppermint Candy, with Maple Nut being my favorite and having a flavor profile similar to Butter Pecan Ice Cream. Yummm!
Approximate* Recipe for Maple Pecan Snow Cream
- 8 Cups of Snow
- 1/2 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1/2 to 1 Cup Chopped Roasted Pecans (I recommend salted)
- 1 Tablespoon of Maple Syrup (I recommend darker)
- 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
* No need to be exact in these measurements. I suggest it as a starting point, but with snow being so variable, you may need/want to add more depending on the characteristics of your snow. For example, the snow I used was very dry and light. If you have a wetter and heavier snow, you may need more Sweetened Condensed Milk.
Step 1: Prepare Ingredients
1) Collect Snow The snow I used was very dry and powdery so I occasionally gave it a quick and gentle pat as I was collecting it to compress more into the bowl.
2) Chop Nuts I set aside a few whole pecans to be used later as a garnish and then chopped the rest of the nuts into smaller pieces
Thoughts on Safe Snow:
People have all kinds of options about what snow is safe to eat: "Don't eat the first snow of the season, because it is loaded with pollution." "Don't eat snow that falls within a city." "Only eat snow that directly falls into a collection bowl that you set out."
For me, I know air pollution often moves great distances from its source, so it is pretty darn difficult to assess the contamination history of any precipitation you encounter. I choose not to worry about it. I try to collect the recently fallen top layer of snow off elevated surfaces like my backyard picnic table, being careful not to collect the bottom. This in theory leaves a clean snow buffer between the snow I'm collecting and a potentially dirty surface.
Step 2: Preparing to Mix
Put Snow in a large mixing bowl and then drizzle the Sweetened Condensed Milk, Maple Syrup, and Vanilla Extract across the snow. In my first batch, I added the nuts during this step, but I then found that the lumpy nuts slightly impeded the mixing process. I recommend adding them after all the other ingredient are mixed well.
Step 3: Mixing
I like to use the back of my spoon to push down and sort of grind the snow and the other ingredient together in long smooth scraping motions, like how you might break up lumps in a batter against the edge of the mixing bowl or spread a paste. As you continue, the color becomes more uniform and the individual clumps start joining together to form larger clumps.
Step 4: Incorporate the Nuts
Once it is thoroughly mixed, add the nuts and mix to incorporate.
Step 5: Serve It
Once the nuts have been incorporated evenly, scoop into serving vessels, optionally garnishing with whole pecans, and serve.
Step 6: Bonus: Peppermint Candy Snow Cream
Approximate Recipe for Peppermint Candy Snow Cream
- 8 Cups of Snow
- 1/2 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1/2 Cup Crushed Peppermint Candies (Leftover candy canes work well)
In my test recipe (photo) I added vanilla and mint extracts, but it didn’t taste quite right. I called my mom and she said no peppermint extract, but maybe some vanilla. I suspect cocoa powder might work well with the peppermint for a yummy chocolate mint flavor.
Step 7: Mix
As in the Maple Pecan recipe, you might want to hold the peppermint candy for a second mixing, but if you choose to include it at the beginning, it will deliver a very nice pink color.
Step 8: Thanks for Reading
If you've never had the opportunity, I hope you get the chance to try "Snow Cream" someday. It has a very unique light and refreshing texture as it instantly melts on your tongue. Please fill free to ask questions or comment, and I'd love to know what flavor of "Snow Treats" you had growing up, or if you've got a better name for this dessert.
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