The best way to beat the summer heat is with our favorite frozen treats. This is where the real debate comes in, though — shaved ice or ice cream?
In the United States, ice cream is the second most popular dessert. Sweet and creamy with a multitude of flavors, ice cream is delicious and never gets boring. The number of calories in some of our favorite flavors, however, is probably the most disappointing part of the dessert — and if you’re lactose intolerant, there’s almost nothing redeeming about ice cream. Ice cream brands are trying something new with vegan, dairy-free and low-calorie options, so you should too — with shaved ice.
For the calorie conscious or dairy-free, shaved ice is where it’s at. The Portland Press Herald says the “foodie hipster scene has declared shaved ice is the hot “new” old way to stay — and be — cool.”
Shaved ice is exactly what it sounds like: ice shaved from a block flavored with different syrups or other toppings. Though similar to a snow cone, the ice isn’t crushed, which makes it easier for the flavored syrups to better saturate the ice. Additionally, shaved ice is often flavored slightly differently than snow cones.
From Hawaii to Italy, shaved ice is a popular treat. Each country flavors their shaved ice with everything from fruit to simple syrup or even both. This frozen treat is Hawaii’s specialty, though there it isn’t entirely dairy-free or as low-calorie as most shaved ice. Hawaii serves shaved ice on top of a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream or a splash of cool sweetened condensed milk. This is as similar to ice cream as shave ice can get as they are practically on top of each other. For the most American way to savor this frozen treat, Hawaiian shaved ice is how to do it. Most places you can find shaved ice will serve the delicious dessert in its simplest form — ice and flavoring. Some places will shave the ice first, but others will flavor the ice before shaving it. Because of shaved ice’s ability to absorb the syrup, it doesn’t matter either way.
Shaved ice can get even fancier for foodies and at-home chefs without being extremely difficult. Italian granitas are simple but full of flavor. Most recipes call for blending ingredients before pouring the mixture on a pan, then freezing it for two to three hours, occasionally scraping the top of the mixture with a knife or the back of a fork to create the gorgeous texture granitas and shaved ice are known for.
Experiment with your favorite flavors this summer as you make this simply amazing treat, visit a local shaved ice shop or stick to your ice cream. Many brands are starting to offer low-calorie, dairy-free, probiotic and a bunch of other alternatives and added ingredients. Because there is no real loser in the ongoing debate between ice cream and shaved ice, whether you take a chance on something new or stick with your long-time favorite, you’ll win in the treat department this summer.