Shaved Snow Affogato: soft snow drowned in global flavors

glutto digest shaved snow affogato

The world of desserts is vast and ever-evolving, and one standout is the shaved snow affogato (a.k.a. snow affogato). But what exactly is this dessert, and how did it come into being?

What is shaved snow affogato?

Shaved snow affogato is a hybrid of two distinct desserts from two regions of the world, Italian affogato and Taiwanese shaved snow.

The Classic: affogato

The term ‘affogato’ hails from Italy and translates to “drowned.” Historically, the affogato is a simple yet sophisticated Italian dessert comprising gelato (Italian ice cream) submerged in a shot of hot espresso. Originating from the bustling cafes of Italy, affogato quickly became a beloved treat, representing the quintessential Italian flair for combining simplicity with exquisite taste. Its rich history is a testament to Italy’s enduring culinary legacy.

traditional affogato

The Modern Twist: shaved snow

Shaved snow, on the other hand, has its roots in Asia. This dessert is known for its feather-light texture, achieved by shaving thin layers off a block of flavored frozen milk or water. Unlike traditional snow cones or Hawaiian shave ice, shaved snow is fluffier, making it a prime candidate for absorbing flavors.

The Fusion: shaved snow affogato unveiled

The shaved snow affogato seamlessly marries these two desserts. Instead of gelato, the espresso (or other flavored hot beverage) is poured over a mound of shaved snow. This combination provides a unique texture and flavor profile, with the lightness of the shaved snow complementing the robustness of the espresso.

Beyond the classic espresso, the shaved snow affogato offers a palette of flavors. Matcha green tea, black sesame (in line with the black food trend), and ube are among the favorites. And for those seeking an added layer of complexity, toppings ranging from jellies to nuts can be sprinkled atop.

Note: Don’t confuse shaved snow affogato with “snow affogato,” which is simply an affogato topped with a ball of cotton candy.  While delightful in its own right, it lacks the distinct texture and absorption qualities of the shaved snow variant. There is no “snow” here.

snow affogato

Ingredients and Preparation

A genuine shaved snow affogato experience hinges on the quality of its ingredients:

  1. shaved snow: Prepared from blocks of frozen milk or water, often flavored beforehand.
  2. espresso: A freshly brewed shot enhances the flavor.
  3. alternative flavors: Matcha green tea powder, black sesame paste, or ube extract can replace espresso.
  4. toppings: From chewy jellies to crunchy nuts or even fresh fruit slices, the choices are vast.

Where can I get it?

Emerging in the mid-2010s, shaved snow affogato has carved a niche for itself, particularly in Southern California. Establishments like Iceskimo in San Diego and North Pole Snow Cream in Studio City are pioneering this dessert, offering both traditional and innovative renditions.

San Diego, CA: Iceskimo

Studio City, CA: North Pole Snow Cream

shaved snow studio city los angeles
photo: North Pole Snow Cream on Instagram

The shaved snow affogato is a testament to the beauty of culinary fusion. It exemplifies how time-honored traditions like the affogato can meld with newer creations like shaved snow, resulting in a dessert that’s both familiar and novel. For those keen to savor a modern spin on a classic, the shaved snow affogato is a must-try.

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Hello! I'm Kristina

Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.