It's not a snowcone. It's not Italian ice. The Baltimore snowball comes in flavors like egg custard and 'Skylite', and it's usually topped with marshmallow cream. We dig deeper into the snowball's history and share the best places to give this summer essential a try.
'shave ice' on Serious Eats
Yup, it's hot this week. Defcon 1 hot. Hairdryer blowing in your face all day hot. To find an antidote to heat like this, I turned to a food city that's no stranger to super-hot, humid weather—New Orleans.
As with dumplings or meat-on-a-stick, every culinary tradition seems to have its own version of a slushy, ice-based sweet treat, from the audacious, over-the-top Korean patbingsu to the comparatively austere Italian ice. Though the interpretations of these shivery, sugary confections show amazing range, at their core, they share an ability to elevate simple frozen water into refreshing, flavorful summer treasures. Thanks to its tremendous diversity and its extended stretches of warm weather, Los Angeles offers what may be an unmatched opportunity to sample the world of these frosty treats.
The main thing I wanted to try during my trip to Honolulu was shave ice. (Yup, that's shave, not shaved—it's the preferred name in Hawaii.) What's so special about a mound of ice shavings soaked in flavored syrups? If the ice is as fine and fluffy as freshly fallen snow, it's pretty special.
Born and bred in Honolulu, Hawai'i, I was so excited to see that ChikaLicious had rolled out a line of shave ice for summer desserts. Shave ice is a daily staple in Hawai'i, whether as a post-beach, post-school, or...
Scoff at my tenderfoot nature if you will, but can you think of anything else that's icy and flaky and good at the same time? Icy is never an adjective you want handy when it comes to ice cream or gelato (in fact, it is the veritable death knell for most frozen concoctions). Snow ice is cool but not brain-freeze frosty, and sweet enough to be satisfying without the cloying sugary-ness of the "frozen cotton candy" it has been compared to. To steal from the Philly cream cheese commercial, it's probably what angels would eat for dessert.
Li hing mui and pineapple shave ice from Ward Farmers' Market. Photograph by Kathy Chan I know it's just a pile of finely shaved ice soaked with flavored syrup in a paper cup, but ... no, it's so much more! I have yet to taste the simple, heavenly joy that is Hawaiian shave ice (not "shaved," just "shave"), but thanks to Kathy Chan's photos and descriptions of this refreshing treat, this simple combination of frozen water and syrup is the one food I want to try the most when I visit Hawaii. Related How to Make Spam Musubi Snapshots from Hawaii: Garlic Shrimp Real Hawaiian Food...