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FOOD FUN: Snow Ice

One of our favorite writers, bakers and photographers—that’s all one person, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog—is on sabbatical in Hawaii. The photos she’s been posting are such a treat.

One of her favorite discoveries is snow ice. “A distinct and entirely different dessert than shave ice,” she writes, “snow ice is also a sweet frozen snack, but made of paper-thin ribbons of ice flakes already infused with flavor. Thus, no syrup is required.” [There’s more about the differences below.]

“This creates a sensational, light texture that’s incredibly easy to eat, even after a big meal. The technique actually comes from Taiwan but has taken root in Hawaii, particularly in downtown Honolulu.”

Hannah has been hanging out at Frostcity, a small chain with lot of flavors. The base can be milk- or water-based.

There you’ll find an abundance of flavors, some milk-based and some water-based (vegan):

 

watermelon-snow-ice-hannahkaminsky-230

A mountain of snow ice. Photo © Hannah
Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

 

  • Classic flavors: almond, chocolate, coffee, cookies & cream, green tea & azuki, mint, nutella, peanut and vanilla
  • Conventional fruits: assorted Berry and melon flavors, banana, lemonade, limeade, mango, pineapple
  • Exotic flavors: avocado, black sesame, calamansi*, haupia†, purple sweet potato
  • Combinations: caramel apple, choco hazelberry (strawberry and Nutella), piña colada, strawberry cheesecake toffee-choco mac
  • Seasonal flavors: egg Nog, gingerbread, nectarine
  • Savory flavors: natto, pickle, sriracha, watercress
  •  
    Colorful garnishes include azuki beans, jellies, mochi balls, tapioca pearls and a sauce of sweetened condensed milk.

     

    blueberry-dramatic-frostcity-230

    Blueberry shaved ice, garnished with “the
    works.” Photo courtesy Frostcity | Honolulu.

     

    SNOW ICE & SHAVE ICE: THE DIFFERENCE

    While both are frozen treats, snow ice is an entirely different dessert than shave ice.

    Snow ice, made in a special machine, consists of paper-thin ribbons of ice flakes that are already infused with flavor. There’s no syrup—which is how shave ice gets its flavor.

    The machine creates a sensational, light texture that’s incredibly easy to eat. The technique actually comes from Taiwan but has taken root in Hawaii, particularly in downtown Honolulu.

    Shave ice or Hawaiian shave ice is made by shaving a block of ice. (That’s “shave ice,” not “shaved ice”—a fact more grammar-conscious people may stumble over. On the Big Island it is also referred to as “ice shave.”)

    Shaving produces a very fine, snow-like ice that easily absorbs the flavored syrup poured over it. Shave ice resembles a snow cone; but there’s a significant difference. Snow cones are made with crushed, rather than shaved, ice and have a rougher texture.

    Which would you prefer? You may have to buy a ticket to Honolulu to begin your voyage of discovery.

     

    *A rarity in the continental U.S. but common in Hawaii, calamondin (also called calamansi) is a Pacific Rim lime that looks like an orange. It was grown in Florida and California until the easier-to-cultivate Bearss/Persian/Tahitian lime became the standard supermarket lime. Some heirloom fruit can still be found in farmers markets. Learn more about the calamondin in our Lime Glossary.
     
    †Haupia is a traditional coconut milk-based Hawaiian dessert often found at luaus and other local gatherings. Made from coconut milk, heated with a thickening agent, it is also a popular topping for white cake, including wedding cake. Although technically a pudding, the consistency approximates a gelatin dessert and it is usually served in blocks like gelatin.

      





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