Last year I wrote about how the first snowfall of winter always reminds me of Shurabetta – my grandfather’s winter dessert. After a storm, my grandfather would take the cleanest, freshest snow from the backyard porch, carefully spooning it into a metal bowl and mix in a number of ingredients to make a snowcone like dessert. It was always a special treat. Shurabetta is not only a great memory to me, but represents a lot of what I’m proud of coming from a family of immigrants. (You can read more here.)
Well, it turns out that last winter there was never enough snow to actually try and make some. (I think I shovelled once the entire season last year). This year we’ve been “fortunate” enough to receive a huge dumping of snow, so much that my work closed down so I could stay home and shovel three times in one day just to keep up with it. The mounds of snow on either side of my driveway are officially taller than I am.
In southern Italy, snow was a rare occurrence and when it did come it was more granular, a different texture from what we get here in Canada. But the excitement about it was the same and when you are using what you have to get by, snow brings the opportunity for a rare treat. As in Italy, when my grandfather made this for me here in Canada, he used what he had on hand in the house. I did the same this weekend. Where he would normally use Tia Maria to help flavour his Shurabetta, I didn’t have any in the house so I turned to Bailey’s instead. He used mini chocolate chips, I only had regular. I had never made it for myself, so trying it out made me a little nervous. But when I took the first bite, I was jumping around like a 5-year-old, clapping my hands. It was exactly like I remembered it! Delicate, light and just a little sweet.
If you’re game, and you’ve got some fresh snow, you should give it a try. I’m not going to give an exact recipe this time around…it’s just too hard. It depends on the type of snow you get and also how strong you like your flavours, but here are the basics…
Honey or Molasses
Liqueur of your choosing (Tia Maria, Kahula or Baileys are good options)
Mini chocolate chips or chocolate sprinkles
Because we are working with snow, you’ll need to prep the ingredients beforehand and work pretty fast. Make coffee as you would regularly do and melt the honey or molasses into it, to the sweetness you like. Allow the coffee mixture to cool complete in the fridge or freezer. When cool, you can add in a shot of liqueur Now you are ready to get your snow.
To collect the snow, here’s what you need to do: find a spot in your backyard or on your porch that is at least a foot or more deep and untouched. Take a large spoon and scrape off the top crust of snow and scoop out what is underneath (but never grabbing the snow right on the ground). We’re looking for the cleanest snow, but also the parts that haven’t started to melt and compress yet.
Bring your snow inside, sprinkle on a little cocoa and add in the coffee mixture a few tablespoons at a time. Mix the ingredients all together, mashing the snow in with liquid until it is incorporated. Keep adding more liquid until you have a granita-like consistency, but no liquid left on the bottom of your bowl. The good thing is, if you put in too much liquid, just run outside and get more snow!
Serve up immediately with some chocolate chips or sprinkles. My husband had this for the first time this weekend and loved it. Make the coffee flavour light and the kids will love it too.