In the stretch of the summer roughly between mid-July and the end of August—though often later or sooner, depending on where you are—ice becomes very important. The drink that seems the tastiest can be whatever is served coldest. Whole beer marketing strategies are built around this logic, that the temperatuer is really what we're after, rather than the taste, and it makes a certain kind of sense. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, slushies, popsicles, and really any drink served with a great amount of crushed ice are the stars this time of year.
Shaved ice in all its glory falls into this category, whether its a snowball, snowcones, Hawaiian shave ice, or any of the other glorious icy trerats, but for some reason, I rarely think about making a snowcone at home. At least, that was true until I got a chance to try Cuisinart's Snowcone Maker, a more professional, grown-up version of the hand-crank ice shaver I had as a kid.
Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated
The Snowcone Maker retails for $69.95, but it often goes on sale. (Right now, for example, you can grab one on Amazon for $55.87.) The machine comes with a sleeve of paper cones to put your shaved ice in, and featuers fold out cone holders where you can rest four cones as you're making them. The machine's core function is basically to turn large cubes or chunks of ice into smaller, more easily chewable ones.
You need to provide your own ice, whether it's cubes from a tray or a bag from the grocery store, or whatever other ice solution that you've come up with. From there, it's pretty simple. You drop ice into the shoot of the ice shaver and use the lever mechanism to push it through the shirring blade. Tiny shaves of ice collect in a big clear plastic bin underr the shaver. Once you have enough shaved ice for a cone, or a few cones, you just scoop them into the cones, packing them into a dome shape using the tool that comes with the snowcone maker. Hey presto: snowcones!
To make the cones into something more than just shaped ice, you'll need to make or buy some flavored syrups. (If you're looking to DIY, try our strawberry, coconut, or watermelon syrups) Or if you're feeling in the mood for more of a cocktail, you can do what we did in the test kitchen, and pour a shot or two of Aperol or St. Germaine over top to make a snowcone cocktail. The machine does exactly what it's supposed to, and does it well. I'm not saying it's a kitchen essential, but around July and August, it sure is nice to have readily accessibly snowcones whenever you want them.
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