The Florida Snow Factory Serves Up Fresh-Shaved Ice and Gluten-Free Frozen Yogurt

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Since the Florida Snow Factory opened three months ago in the Harbor Shops plaza in Fort Lauderdale, we South Floridians can get snow anytime we want -- even in the middle of summer. And it won't mess up the roads or muck up our yards with ugly brown and yellow piles of packed slush for weeks on end.

Instead, we get our snow fresh-shaved, packed into a plastic cone and doused in fun flavored syrups. In addition to over a dozen ice cream flavors and a constantly rotating selection of D'Lites soft serve and frozen yogurt, this boutique-style ice cream parlor offers Hawaiian-style fresh-shaved ices made using an old-fashioned machine that blasts out a light, fluffy snow-like ice which is guaranteed to be better than those granular balls of machine-manufactured ice we're all used to seeing.

"It's really a unique frozen treat," marketing manager Matthew Kushner told Clean Plate Charlie. "You can watch staff perform the century-old art of shaving blocks of ice, which comes out like fresh-packed snow rather than those ice crystals you're probably used to seeing."

Unlike snow cones, shaved ice is not crushed but literally "shaved" into fluffy piles that are soft -- not crunchy -- and absorb the flavored syrups rather than letting them drain and pool in the bottom of your cone. Although today hard-core shaved ice fans know it as a Hawaiian thing, it can actually be traced back to Japan where they call it "kakigori," which is made using blocks of ice cut with Japanese swords.

According to Kushner, the Florida Snow Factory is also able to create hundreds of flavor combinations using an all-natural line of imported Hawaiian syrups that offer a range of more than 100 flavor combinations covering sweet and sour.

If shaved ice isn't indulgent enough for you, try layering your snow cone with frozen yogurt -- or topping it with melted ice cream -- for an extra creamy kick. In addition to shaved ice, the Snow Factory has a complete line of D'Lite frozen yogurt and soft serve -- what comes out to be more than 200 flavors that change every other day to give patrons a taste of flavors like cotton candy, Boston cream pie, guava tart, tiramisu and Snickers, just to name a few.

While we at Clean Plate Charlie are never ones to say "no" to anything food related, calories be damned, for those of you counting there are several varieties of frozen yogurt that offer low-fat, low-calorie and sugar-free options, as well as a gluten-free soft serve. A small cup of the low-calor soft serve has 50 calories, said Kushner, while a medium serving offers double the D'Lite for a total of 100 calories.

If you like your ice cream and soft serve coated in everything sweet, crunchy, crumbly and nutty, the Snow Factory's well-provisioned topping bar has it all. Like a sea of sugary fun, it ranges from creamy marshmallow fluff and a decadent hot fudge, to more than five different types of nut toppings, said Kushner. Stack it all into a home-made waffle cone, and we couldn't think of a better way to welcome the oncoming summer heat.

Keep reading for our tip to get two shaved ices for half-price after the jump:

We especially love the ice cream cakes and cookie sandwiches, which can be custom made fresh, or bought in-store. "Because we have so many soft serve flavors, and so many toppings, we can layer pretty much any flavor cake with almost any type of ice cream, soft serve and topping combination," said Kushner.

The same goes for their cookie ice cream sandwiches, which are -- thankfully -- available in single-serve varieties that can be made-to-order rather than the standard, pre-made pack of six. That way, you don't have to be a fat ass and buy more than you need. Genius.

Luckily, we stumbled across the Snow Factory while they are in the midst of running a Groupon deal that can get you two medium-sized shaved ices for $4. What better way to usher in the summer heat than with some shaved ice?

The Snow Factory is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information visit their Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter.

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