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
Whenever the first snow falls, I am reminded of my grandfather. Clean fresh snow layering the backyard and roofs, whatever is left in the garden (if there is a tomato stalk or two) and lining the patio stones making them look gleaming white. It’s usually a surprise from overnight, but early fresh snows meant a special treat that I haven’t made, and don’t know if I will make, in years.