Love at First Bite: Snopioca’s Pumpkin Spice Shaved Snow

Along with Job and Freddie Gibbs, I too bear witness to the Lord’s proclivity to both giveth and taketh away. Nearly two years ago, on a night no doubt marked by an abundance of black cats and peals of thunder, my sweet tooth, having been a fixture of my existence for my entire life, suddenly disappeared. In the days and months that followed, I found myself to be nothing more than an empty, if largely healthier shell of what I once had been. From that night on, the joy of dessert was absent from my life.

Then, on a temperate Tuesday night after a long drive to Babcock Road, I tasted Snopioca and stood convicted: The Lord had giveth again. Though my desire for sweets remained dormant, the tiny outpost serving Taiwanese Shaved Snow had given me, with their pillowy piling of subtle sugar, a treat so pleasantly soft in both texture and intensity that I found myself once again elated at the taste of sweet cream. I had been restored.

To be fair, this was no ordinary shaved snow. Though the café serves traditional flavors of the treat such as green tea, honeydew, and taro, young owners Steven Lee and Jerry Han love playing with special flavors. Some of these twists, such as the Cha Cha Chamoy, cater to locale palates. Others, such as the one I came to try, are seasonal offerings.

Though at first the pumpkin spice shaved snow might seem like another riff in an interminable stream of PSL riffs, it is not. The texture of the treat, whose downy ribbons stacked on each other resemble a coral reef, makes it feel like snow but taste like ice cream.

For the pumpkin spice special, Snopioca makes pumpkin ice in house, then adds Teddy Grahams, candy corn, pumpkin condensed milk, sprinkles, and cinnamon powder. Though I omitted the sprinkles and powder as they seemed superfluous (and after two toppings, add-ons cost more), the dessert was incredible. The snow stretches and works like a membranous type of cotton candy, pulling apart before each crystalline crunch. The syrupy milk, beeswax in color, warms what it touches and lends a calming viscosity to the textural topography. The Teddy Grahams work well, soft with a fine bite and a good snort of cinnamon, but the candy corn (often an exception to my dormant sweet tooth) becomes unpleasantly stony when cold, though a warming period in your mouth softens them into edibility. The cumulative effect of the snow and toppings is a textural mélange, though one that favors the softer side of the spectrum, accompanied by dulcet pumpkin undertones, soft cinnamon and spice accents, and just enough sugar to remind you that you’re treating yourself all for $6.22.

6423 Babcock Road, (210) 455-8638.

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