In case you haven’t heard, the Northeast U.S. is currently being buried under a giant snowy blanket. The Weather Channel is calling it “Winter Storm Hercules,” because they are very effective at using scare tactics to draw in readers. Their competitors are annoyed.
I’m visiting Boston, snowed in with some of my best friends, who have been sent home early from work. My fingers are so cold it’s hard to type, and I’m wearing two sweaters.
But the snow doesn’t have to be all scary Weather Channel headlines and icicle fingers. Snow should be about snow days and no work and snowpeople and snowanimals and igloos. Before the temperature dropped to 9 degrees, I went out to collect snow for desserts.
There’s the classic way to make your own ice cream using the plastic bag in ice method, and you can substitute the ice that doesn’t get eaten with snow that doesn’t get eaten. That’s not what we’re about today. I always loved eating the snow as a kid, so today, we’re going to eat the snow, and I will provide some guidance for how to make it tasty.
Step 1: Collect your snow.
No matter where you’re collecting snow from, make sure you collect it from a clean patch of that has not yet been subject to snowplows or the feet of children, adults, dogs, cats, deer, squirrels, moose or other peeing and stomping creatures. I trekked out to the park down the street to collect this pot of snow then came back to the apartment and decided that, despite the pristine snowscape of the park, too many dogs poop there on the regular. I ditched that pot, and collected some off the porch. Less romantic, probably cleaner. If you have a quiet and uninterrupted location, you can leave a bowl outside to collect the snow, which might also be helpful in preventing contamination.
Are you a person who sees this and thinks, “Great but I really don’t want to eat snow because pollution!” or “Great but I don’t have any snow because geography!” You can make snow in a blender.
Store your snow outside or in the freezer and proceed to step two.
Step 2: Gather your snow accoutrements
These were mine:
But improvise! Try different kinds of milk, vegan or otherwise, and add different flavors. Coffee might be a good addition, and fruit syrups could contribute to a snow cone situation.
Step 3: Put it All Together
The internet has a lot of advice on this. I read a few things and then mostly made my own way.
Attempt 1: Snowcream
Mix snow, almond milk, vanilla, and maple syrup until it looks and tastes like ice cream.
Attempt 2: Maple Taffy
I had a Little House on the Prairie picture book about what they did at Christmastime in the little house in the Big Woods. They made maple candy on the snow. I set out to do that. I packed snow into a baking dish, stored it in the freezer, and then boiled maple syrup:
And then I drizzled it over the snow, to cool it quickly and have it solidify into the candies…
…and it just melted.
I’m not sure what exactly went wrong – either it wasn’t cold enough, or the snow was too fluffy. Now we have a pan of maple snow. Over at the Kitchn, Faith Durand made Little House in the Big Woods-inspired maple taffy successfully.
I mixed soy milk and vanilla into the failed maple taffy pan to make more snow cream. It worked out.
What kind of snow are you eating today?