Helen Chappell - February 2010


Nice Ice
Helen Chappell

In the middle of February, one’s taste buds should turn to things like chili and hot chocolate, nice, warming foods that heat you up from the inside and keep the cold and damp at bay.
But February is also prime snow ice cream month, so if you see a good snowfall, rush out there with your big serving spoon and a mixing bowl and pack in as much of the white stuff as you can. Of course, you’ll want to use clean, fresh fallen snow, avoiding anything yellow or black with car slush.
Whose snow day has not been vastly improved by snow ice cream? Unlike the commercial brands, snow ice cream is light and transitory.
It should be delicately flavored and served within minutes of manufacture to capture the passing essence. In other words, you have to work fast.
To the bowl of snow, you should add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and a half-cup of sugar, folding it into the frost.
That will create the basic snow ice cream, where the vanilla just bursts all over your taste buds as the warmth of your mouth slowly melts the delicate frost. This is snow ice cream at the most basic, the stuff you remember from your frostbitten childhood. It will bring back memories of the smell of wet wool and frozen mittens with a zap of instant nostalgia.
If you’re really snowed in and really bored or expecting a tribe of hungry guests, you can get really baroque with snow ice cream.
To the plain old vanilla and sugar recipe, you can add a half cup of half and half, whirling it for a couple of seconds in a blender, which will make it taste more like ice cream.
Now, if you want to add a little kick to your snow ice cream, add vanilla, sugar, half and half and a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream. That will take an edge off the cold, you betcha.
Maybe you want to strengthen that up a little, what with being snowed in or company coming or whatever. So you can add a shot or two of vodka to the snow, vanilla, sugar, half and half and Bailey’s. There! Doesn’t that add a little kick to your snow ice cream?
Now, take another sip to make sure it’s all nice and mixed before you add some more snow to the blender. Then sip again to be sure it’s nicely mixed. Isn’t that good? You know what would make it better? Grand Marnier! Just a splash or two of that orange brandy brings that snow ice cream to life! Mmmm!
At this point, you may need to go out and get more snow. To fortify yourself, you should just have a little glass of snow ice cream.
Be careful out there! It’s slippery on that ice, but there’s a nice clean patch of snow not too far from the step, and you know what would make that ice cream stand up and salute?
Sure you do!
Just a splash of peppermint schnapps, that’s what! A little hint of mint with that snow, vanilla, half and half, sugar, Bailey’s, vodka and Grand Marnier would be just fine, wouldn’t it?
Just scoop up that snow in that bowl and mind the ice on those concrete steps – whoopsy-daisey! – watch it, you don’t want to neck your break, breck your neak, whatever – on those stupid steps, who put them there anyway...?
And a few shots of schnapps later, just remember you’re alone in the kitchen and no one can see you swigging directly from the bottle anyway.
Anyway, there’s still more snow in the bowl, and it’s just going to melt if you don’t do something with it, and you did risk your life and limb to go out in the freezing cold to get it.
So you decide to whip up a new batch, just like Mom used to make, if Mom had had a cabinet full of obscure liqueurs, which she didn’t.
You start with a bowl of snow, quickly stirring in vanilla, sugar, half and half, Bailey’s, vodka, Grand Marnier, peppermint schnapps and why not add a shot or two of Frangelico? Nuts go well with everything, right?
So, you quickly blend a snowman’s brew of frosty snow, vanilla, sugar, half and half, Bailey’s, vodka, Grand Marnier, peppermint schapps and Frangelico.
It burns going down. Snow shouldn’t burn going down, should it? But it does give you such a nice glow when it gets there.
Still, something’s missing. Something essential.
Something. . . chocolate.
How could you possibly forget chocolate, the essence of life itself? You try to smack yourself playfully upside the head and miss, but another sip of your old-fashioned snow ice cream makes you forget you already added several shots of chocolate liqueur.
And you know, a little chocolate Godiva would just about make the snow ice cream perfect. After all, how can you have snow ice cream without some chocolate, hmmm? So you add some more.
And when you wake up in the morning, sprawled on the couch in your clothes, your mouth a cotton plantation and a pile driver pounding inside your head, for just one moment, you wonder how good old-fashioned snow ice cream had gotten so deadly.