Homemade Sno Cone Syrups

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on July 2, 2012

Sno cones are awesome.

I don’t even really need to write a story today. I could just write “sno cones are awesome” and you all would nod your head at your screens in agreement because it’s not a subjective opinion. It’s objective, factual, a phrase that would stand up in court. So why did our parents, who gave us almost anything we asked for, refuse us the Snoopy Sno Cone Machine in our formative years?

Yeah, I’m still a little bitter. I mean, I was allowed to use the teensy watt bulb in the EZ Bake Oven to make inedible brownies, I was allowed to hurtle down the driveway toward oncoming traffic with the Roller Racer (which—in fairness—was my sister’s, but as the older sibling, I commandeered it fairly frequently), I was allowed to ride a bike without a helmet, I was even allowed to invent a game called “Pigs in a Blanket” that consisted of tucking myself into a slippery nylon sleeping bag and sliding down the stairs, Home Alone-sled-style.

The irony was that I still ate artificially flavored neon shaved ice by the gallon as a kid, I just never did it at home. Living in the vicinity of both a corner store that served Slush Puppies and a Dairy Queen, where I’d slurp down Mr. Misty floats until my brain was almost on permafreeze, I never lacked access to slushy goodness. Were my parents keeping the sno cone machine from me as a character-building exercise?

Maybe they were waiting for me to become a professional recipe developer so one day I’d look at the thermometer hitting 95˚ for the third straight day in a row and think, “That’s it. If I can’t have central air in this creaky old house, at least I can make a damn sno cone for myself.”

So I bit the bullet and bought a sno cone machine. Once that relatively affordable investment’s been made (seriously, all it does is shave ice, there’s no need to go gangbusters), the sky’s the limit for sno cone syrup flavors—thanks to the science of sugar. As I explained in my caramel primer, sugar is technically a “wet” ingredient, meaning it’ll become fully liquid when heat is applied. Following are two ways of making syrups: the first uses fresh sour cherry juice that’s been simmered down to intensify its flavor and use its natural sugars to kickstart the syrup process. (Hey, I’m a sour cherry freak, of course I have fresh juice on hand!)

I didn’t want to cook down any citrus juice for the lemon-lime version—not as much natural sugar in those bad boys—so a supercharged simple syrup, using a 2:1 sugar-to-water ratio instead of the usual 1:1, did the trick. King Arthur Flour’s lime juice powder is my secret weapon for giving the lemon-lime syrup that extra Slushee-esque taste without using anything fake, and has many more uses than syrup flavoring: I’ve snuck it into icings and glazes, mixed it with sour cream and salsa for a dip, and sprinkled it on berries. If you can’t wait for your order to arrive, sub in two packets of True Lime crystals—they’re in the Kool-Aid and Crystal Light aisle at the supermarket.

By the way, that Dairy Queen Mr. Misty float? Yeah, I’ve got the DQ ice cream recipe, but it’s in the book. There are some things worth waiting for.

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