When backyard gardens are dormant for the winter, your yard may hold the promise of one tasty treat, depending on where you live. Snow cream, which is made of fresh snow and has the same satisfying creamy sweetness of ice cream, is simple enough to make that kids can do it. Use kitchen staples like milk and sugar to make basic snow cream, then tailor your batch to taste like your favorite ice cream flavor.
Snow cream is a treat to be enjoyed on a snow day, not a few days after a flurry. Using clean, fresh snow is crucial for sanitary and peace-of-mind reasons; you won't enjoy snacking on something to which neighborhood dogs have had access. Light, powdery snow is better for this use than packed, clumpy snow.
Ideally, set a large plastic bowl outdoors before the snow starts falling. If you're using snow from the ground, choose it from an area that's completely untouched by tracks or urine, and skim off just the top of the drifts. Sift through snow with a spoon to be sure it's free of sticks, rocks and other debris.
The Base Liquid
Snow cream requires both fat and sugar. Use any kind of milk, including coconut or almond milk, or opt for heavy cream to best approximate the rich flavor of real ice cream. You can also use a combination of the two. White or brown sugar, honey or maple syrup provides the necessary sweetness. Some snow cream devotees make things even simpler by using sweetened condensed milk.
To make snow cream that tastes like your favorite store-bought treat, add a splash of vanilla and chocolate or strawberry syrup into your base liquid. You can also experiment with flavor combinations. For instance, make peppermint mocha snow cream by mixing peppermint extract, cooled espresso and cocoa powder to the milk or cream. If you're serving young children, add food coloring to a batch of vanilla liquid.
After you've made the snow cream, you can also stir in chocolate chips, toasted coconut flakes, fresh berries, sprinkles, nuts, or broken chunks of ice cream cones.
You can easily adjust the amount of snow cream you make based on how much snow you have, how dense the snow is and how many you're feeding. For one large bowl holding about 8 or 10 cups of snow, you'll need about two cups of base liquid, either sweetened condensed milk or a combination of about 1 1/2 cups of milk or cream and 1/2 cup sweetener. You may want less sweetener if you're using honey or maple syrup and more if you're using sugar and you have a serious sweet tooth.
Pour the liquid over the snow and gently mix them together with a wooden spoon. Snow cream should be fluffy and thick enough to hold its shape. Stir in more snow if it's runny or tastes too sweet and more liquid if it's thick or tastes bland.