Taiwanese xue-hua-bing — or “snow ice” — is the latest low-cal summer treat to hit Chicago
A muggy Chicago June day sent us in search of a cone, cup or bowl of something refreshing, and we found our sweet relief in something both cool and cultural: Taiwanese snow ice.
Xue-hua-bing is wispy and fluffy, and has the consistency of frozen, slightly thicker cotton candy. The ice, which also is surprisingly creamy, is somewhat chewy at first but melts in your mouth. It condenses in the bowl, though, so you have to eat quickly!
Unlike ice cream, snow ice in Taiwan isn’t made with milk. Traditionally, people will drizzle vanilla-flavored snow ice with condensed milk and top it with sweet red beans. In Chicago, however, it has been Americanized. Cloud 9 on Belmont adds skim milk to its mixture, and serves other flavors more familiar to the North American palate. Mango is the most popular flavor, but vanilla and strawberry also are available. Our vote? Definitely go for the classic combo of vanilla ice with condensed milk and red bean drizzle. Other “drizzles” (which essentially are syrups) are chocolate and fruit flavored, and many customers opt to order chunks of fresh fruit topping.
Cloud 9 serves two sizes. The snack size, at 150 calories with 1 gram of fat, costs $3.79, and the regular size costs $4.79. Both sizes look like mountains because of the air that gets worked into the ice when it is shaved, but we promise you can eat it all. (The calorie count is proof!) One “drizzle” is included, and toppings are an additional $.69. Keeping up with the trends, Cloud 9, which opened a month and a half ago, serves its snow ice with biodegradable bowls and forks.
The only down side? No samples! Because snow ice can only be served freshly shaved from a large block, it’s impossible to spoon out of a bin like Ben & Jerry’s. But if we had to choose between Ben & Jerry’s and snow ice, we prefer the airy Taiwanese dessert. Check it out at Cloud 9 at 604 W. Belmont Ave., or watch below for a shaving tutorial:
–Tara and Karina for TKGO
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