Taiwanese Shaved Snow Ice, also known as snow cream, milk cream, snow fluff and shaved snow ice, has recently become a huge hit in Los Angeles with places like Blockheads, Class 302, and Kuma Snow. Before it became popular in Los Angeles it was popular in Hawai'i, but even before that, it originated sometime in the 1990s from a nightmarket stand in Taipei, Taiwan. Its original name in Chinese, xue hua bing, translates to "snowflake ice" due to its super fine crystal consistency. What makes snow ice so popular however, is its ability to balance the iciness with a creamy, almost gelato-like taste. The creator of Kuma Snow, Tira, said "it’s like eating snow and tasting ice cream".
Crushed Ice ≠ Snow Ice
Different than the well-known American snow cone of crushed ice with flavored syrup toppings, Shaved Snow Ice is produced from a large block of flavored ice that has been prepped hours beforehand. What makes it different than the snow cone is that the ice is not plain ice, it is mixed with milk, fruit and flavorings that when frozen, creates the flavor of the ice. It then goes through a series of processes such as flash freezing that contribute to its unique texture of freshly fallen snow. What makes it creamy is the milk content. Still, it is half the calories of Ice Cream (minus the toppings).
Now this popular dessert is making its way into the Bay Area with businesses like Ice Husky selling snow ice. With summer coming, it will be a highly sought after dessert for those seeking relief from the heat.
We decided to first start with some topping suggestions that made Snow Ice so popular in Taiwan. Many of the traditional toppings are also very health-conscious. If you are looking to watch out for your body but still enjoy a tasty treat, Shaved Snow Ice is definitely one way to go. Try any mix of these toppings for a traditional Taiwanese Snow Ice flavor.
Sweetened Red Azuki Beans
These red beans are sweet with a slightly nutty flavor, often cooked to softness but never mushy. On top of being delicious, they hold many of the healthy attributes that beans have, such as protein, fiber, and little fat.
Green Mung Bean
Green Mung Beans are on the smaller side, but don't let that fool you. These beans have a lot of Vitamin B, Vitamin C, protein and fiber, lending itself to its nickname golden bean. These beans are often not as sweet as the red azuki beans, making it a healthier option for those watching their weight or diabetes.
These peanuts are not the hard kind. In fact, they're quite soft as they've been cooked in sugar water to a creamy texture complimentary to snow ice. Its nutty flavors are subtle and the sweetness is on the lower side.
Slow Cooked Taro
Taro is a root fruit most commonly compared to potatoes and yams for its consistency. It has a unique purple color and is a very popular item. When cooked, the texture turns creamy and tastes a little bit nutty. If you haven't tried it, you have to give it a go! It's one of the most popular for a reason.
Grass Jelly is not actually made from grass. Rather, it's from the mint family from a plant called mesona chineensis. The taste is more herbal and floral than your regular lawn. It's beautiful dark colors and cooling taste work wonders to help you escape the heat. Grass Jelly can be served by itself or in beverages such as milk tea and vietnamese drink desserts.
Mochi is made from glutinous rice, ground and mixed with water to create a dough soft and delectable. Depending on how it's made, the consistency of the dough can range from being harder and more gummylike to a soft cloud that will melt in your mouth. This texture makes it popular for use in desserts, and is gaining popularity across the US. Very tasty!
Fresh fruit always works well with Snow Ice. A few popular suggestions are: strawberry, mango, kiwi, and bananas. For the daring: try jackfruit and avocado.
Condensed Milk is a popular topping because of syrupy consistency and ability to pair with virtually any other topping. It adds another layer of creaminess to the overall dessert, and is a special treat for those who like it extra sweet.