The Taiwanese introduced a popular iteration of the shaved ice, an ice dessert that had been around for many years. The traditional shave ice is made by shaving a block of ice and improved by adding different kinds of toppings. The toppings can be any of the fruits in season or some dessert items like custard, beans, or even ice cream.

The Taiwanese put a new twist to the shaved ice by reversing the process and creating a flavor-infused ice block. Flavors are added to the water before it is frozen to make an ice block. The flavor-infused block is shaved to produce soft and thin ribbons of flavored ice to be topped with fruits, nuts, and other assorted sweets. To make the concoction more flavorful, condensed milk is sprinkled on top of all the ingredients. The resulting product is a cross between the traditional shaved ice and ice cream. Called or xue hua bing in Chinese, the snow fluff has popped up in the different Taiwanese stores and shops that sell iced desserts and other cold delicacies.

Snow fluff, sometimes referred to as fluff ice in other countries, is as creamy as the ice cream minus the fat content. It is closer to frozen yogurt but does not contain as much calories. It is comparable to the Hawaiian shaved ice that melts in the mouth. People who tried snow fluff simply love it but they could not make a common description of the delicacy. One really has to try it before fully understanding what it really is.

The snow fluff is believed to be invented at one of the stalls at the Shilin Night Market in Taiwan but there are no credible accounts of who actually created the first snow fluff.

Making Snow Fluff

While shaved ice is prepared by grinding or shaving ice and adding toppings and condensed milk or fruit syrups, snow fluff starts closer to the ice cream. Different flavorings, such as chocolate or green tea are mixed into a combination of milk and water. The mixture is then frozen into giant candle-like cylinder block.

The frozen block is then mounted onto the ice shaving machine which makes very thin and silky slices or sheets that form a beautiful layer. The thin ribbon-like slices are so thin that they immediately melt in the mouth, like cotton candy.

The prepared dessert comes as a pile of colorful snow drizzled with fruit syrup and finished with different toppings that may include red beans, grass jelly or lychee, a favorite fruit in Taiwan. Other tropical fruits, such as mango, watermelon, strawberry, passion fruit, and cantaloupe are the people’s favorites.

From Taiwan to the Rest of the World

Snow fluff became a crowd-drawer not only in every city of Taiwan but also to major cities around the world. One will find shops and restaurants selling snow fluff in the Asian hubs of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, and other major cities of the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

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