There are always pros and cons to a snow day. Bundling up in layers to go outside and shovel snow isn't anyone's idea of a great time, but on the upside, a fresh snowfall means you can indulge in snowy sweet treats that aren't an option in May or August. You already know the most important rule for eating or drinking things made with fresh snow: Avoid yellow snow or any patch of disturbed snow when you head outdoors for collection. Gently scoop clean snow into a mixing bowl using a clean cup and taking care to leave the snow as fluffy as possible instead of packing it into the bowl. You can always come back for more – until the next heat wave.
1. Classic Snow Cream
Snow cream is a snow day favorite among kids (and adults) because it's basically vanilla ice cream, and how often do any of us dig into vanilla ice cream on a typical afternoon? The basic snow ice cream recipe calls for 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 cup of confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a large bowl of fresh snow. Aim for about 8 cups of snow, which should produce four to eight servings of snow cream.
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This recipe is so simple (and no heat is required) that even young kids can make snow cream with minimal adult help. The most important part is to be careful about how you add the sweet cream mixture to the snow. Stirring too vigorously will cause your snow cream to become more of a cream soup. Top snow cream with sprinkles, nuts or any other toppings you would use on ice cream.
2. Condensed or Evaporated Milk Snow Cream
Combining three ingredients to mix with snow is pretty simple, but there's actually an even easier snow cream recipe. Simply drizzle sweetened condensed milk and a little vanilla over fresh snow and stir. The condensed milk works as a substitute for both the cream and sugar. If all you have on hand is evaporated milk, that will work too, but because evaporated milk is unsweetened, you'll have to add sugar to taste before mixing the milk with snow.
3. Dairy-Free Snow Cream
Everyone should get to enjoy snow cream after a fresh snowfall, including people who don't eat dairy. Using coconut milk makes a vegan version of snow cream. Opt for full-fat coconut milk to mimic the taste and texture of ice cream. Shake the can thoroughly before opening it and then combine coconut milk with a splash of vanilla and a drizzle of maple syrup until the coconut milk reaches your desired level of sweetness. Top the finished snow cream with toasted coconut flakes to add crunch and accentuate the flavor of the coconut milk.
4. Chocolate Snow Cream
Are you more of a chocolate ice cream person than vanilla? Modify the classic snow cream recipe by adding 1/8 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder for every 1 cup of cream mixture, condensed milk or coconut milk you use. Cocoa powder tends to clump, which means you might bite into little balls of bitter chocolate in your snow cream unless you sift the powder first and whisk the mixture completely before mixing it with fresh snow. Alternatively, mix a few packets of hot cocoa mix into the cream but pull back on the sugar since cocoa mix is already sweetened. Add mini chocolate chips and a drizzle of chocolate syrup to each bowl.
5. Peppermint Snow Cream
Icy peppermint flavor is a good match for a bracing winter day. Incorporate mint into your snow cream by adding a tiny amount of peppermint extract into your cream or milk mixture. Start with just 1/8 teaspoon and add more to taste. Use peppermint extract in either vanilla or chocolate snow cream. Add mini chocolate chips and a dusting of crushed peppermint candy to make mint chocolate snow cream with a little bit of crunch.
6. Pudding Snow Cream
A creamier version of snow cream uses instant pudding mix in addition to milk or cream, expanding your flavor options so you can make snow cream that tastes like pistachio, butterscotch, lemon or even banana. Follow package directions to mix the pudding powder with milk. Mix it with fresh snow right away or refrigerate the pudding until it's chilled and then mix it with snow.
7. Maple Snow Candy
You might not have much in common with early American pioneers, but you might feel like one when you're making simple maple candy in a snowbank. This classic sweet treat is made by heating maple syrup in a saucepan until it's boiling and then pouring the hot syrup directly onto fresh snow to harden it into a taffylike texture. Pour the syrup in straight lines and roll a popsicle stick along each line to create maple pops or simply pour it into little blobs or curlicues to eat with your fingers. Make snow candy outdoors or bring a baking dish filled with snow indoors.
8. Snow Cones
While snow cones are traditionally made with shaved ice in hot weather, there's no reason you can't make them with fresh snow in the height of winter. Mix your own DIY snow cone flavoring by dissolving 1 cup of sugar and a packet of drink mix (like Kool-Aid) in 1 cup of water. Pack snow into a cup and spoon the liquid over it or squirt it onto the snow using a plastic squeeze bottle.
9. Hot Chocolate Slushies
A frozen hot chocolate slushy is like a mix between hot cocoa and a milkshake. You can make your own pot of thick, decadent hot chocolate using melted chocolate, sugar and milk, or you can use hot chocolate mix to prepare a pot of extra-rich cocoa. Let it cool to room temperature and stir in enough fresh snow to create a slushy, milkshakelike texture. Top it with whipped cream and sprinkles.
10. Fresh Snow Cocktail
Toast the end of a long, snowy day with a cocktail made from the stuff. Use fresh snow in place of crushed ice in your favorite margarita or frozen daiquiri recipe. You can also tightly pack snowballs the size of golf balls to use as ice cubes in a glass of bourbon or whiskey. It won't necessarily improve the taste of your drink, but adding snow might make cocktail hour a little more fun at the very least.