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Grate Frozen Fruit for the Quickest, Coolest Dessert

Jan 31, 2024

By Esra Erol

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Summer has a lot going for it: Shorts replace pants, bras become tops, and dessert is always frozen. Whether it be Strawberry-Pretzel Ice Cream Pie, Yogurt-Berry Paletas, or Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches, there is no ice-cold treat I will say no to. But if there's one thing I yearn for most on a hotter-than-hot summer afternoon, it's shaved ice.

This frozen dessert can be found in many different forms across the world. In Japan, kakigori is typically made with plain, unflavored ice and topped with fruit syrups like strawberry or melon. Filipino favorite halo-halo layers shaved ice and condensed milk on top of all sorts of ingredients, like jellies, flan, macapuno, ube ice cream, and pinipig. Raspado, Mexico's version of the snow cone, is made with ice that is scraped by hand with a tool called cepillo or raspador, and comes in flavors such as tamarind and rompope, a holiday drink similar to eggnog.

Many of these frozen treats can be made at home with the right tools. But if you don't have an ice shaver or a snow cone machine (or you don't feel like busting out your food processor), that's fine. You can make elaborate shaved ice in a pinch.

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All you need is frozen fruit—either store-bought or fresh fruit that you froze yourself—and a Microplane. Unlike a box grater, a Microplane specializes in zesting, which allows it to shave much more finely, producing fluffier results. Using a Microplane also allows you to grate in both directions fast.

When Frankie Gaw, the blogger behind Little Fat Boy and author of First Generation: Recipes From My Taiwanese Home, posted this "grate" hack (see what I did there) to TikTok, of course it went viral. In the video, he grates store-bought frozen strawberries into a bowl and tops it off with condensed milk, crushed peanuts, and black sesame. Lucky for me, I had everything I needed already in my kitchen.

I grabbed a bag of frozen strawberries and grated some into a chilled little bowl, yielding a mountain of ruby-hued snow. Then I grabbed whatever toppings I could find: sweetened condensed milk, freeze-dried strawberries, Rice Krispies, and whipped cream. It was icy, custardy, crunchy, melty, and so wonderfully cold.

By grating frozen fruits like strawberries and mangoes into a bowl, you get a light texture like the base of many beloved shaved ice desserts. For those heat waves when you don't want to turn on the oven to make a galette, freeze those farmers market berries and make this refreshing treat.