Summer just isn’t summer without a cool treat to enjoy when things get a little too warm outside.
Chances are most folks fondly remember clutching those white paper cones of brightly colored — and flavored — ice during the dog days of the season.
And if you happen to be a product of the 1980s, chances are you or someone in your neighborhood had a “Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine” with the little red shovel meant to scoop the ill-crushed bits of ice into little cups to be topped with sugary drink mixes.
If you thought the days of enjoying a snow-cone were behind you, think again. They’re still around, they’re just prepared a little differently and have adopted a new moniker — shaved iced. Unlike snow cones, where the ice is usually crushed, shaved ice is — wait for it — shaved, resulting in a finely textured ice that absorbs the syrup added to it.
If you’re running in a particularly fancy circle, the chilled sweet treat may also be called a granita. Simply put, a granita is a combination of sugar, flavoring and a liquid that has been frozen in a shallow container and periodically scraped with a fork to create mounds of icy crystals.
“We have lines. People are really excited about it,” says David Carrell, one of the operators of the New York City-based People’s Pops, which specializes in shaved ice, along with ice pops, both made with fresh fruits and herbs.
Carrell, also a co-author of the new “People’s Pops” cookbook containing 55 ice pop and shaved ice recipes, thinks shaved ice is just on the cusp of becoming a mainstream phenomenon. And, he thinks, for good reason, saying shaved ice has dramatic appeal, especially when made from hand-carved ice.
“There’s not that much visible about an ice pop,” he says. “But if you have a 75- to 100-pound block of ice sitting in front of you and you’re shaving it by hand — especially on a day when it’s 88 going on 110 degrees — it will stop you in your tracks.
“In the United States, the treat is a specialty of Hawaii, where it’s known as shave ice and may come served on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream and/or with a splash of sweetened condensed milk on top.”
Shaved ice can be made the old-fashioned way or in one of the many machines available on the market, each promising to deliver ice with just the right texture.
Syrup flavors can range from the traditional, such as pineapple or strawberry, to the less-expected, like mango tea and green apple.
At the Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar and Eatery in Arlington, Va., chef Davis Guas serves some interestingly flavored shaved ice and has a few syrup tips for those who want to try making their own.
First, start with the freshest fruit. Second, don’t puree the fruit, especially if it has seeds. Rather, macerate it with a little sugar and lemon juice, then steam it in a double boiler before straining the juice through cheesecloth.
Finally, poke the ice with a straw before adding the syrup. This helps ensure that the syrup gets evenly distributed.
These sweet treats don’t have to push your diet over the caloric edge either. For instance, these particular recipes will only set you back about 60 to 90 calories per serving.
Associated Press contributed to this article.