Mourning Aunt Stelle’s: 8 ways to keep your cool

CHILL OUT

Photo by Kathy Tran

When Aunt Stelle’s snow cone stand announced this year that they’re closed for good, it ended more than 50 years of an Oak Cliff tradition.

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An Aunt Stelle’s snow cone was the taste of summer itself. Waiting in line with friends and neighbors, standing on the asphalt and eating it with sticky fingers. Aunt Stelle’s was just so Oak Cliff. But it’s gone, and it’s not coming back. So now what?

We offer these candidates for a new generation
of summertime frozen treats.

SNOW CONES

While there is only one Aunt Stelle’s, there are plenty of places to get a snow cone in Oak Cliff.

Located in a shopping center on Kiest just south of Hampton, Jafan Snowcones doesn’t have a sign. But it’s next to the catfish place.

This shop, which has been open five years, only sells snow cones, and it has a dizzying menu of flavors.

There are the typical cherry, grape and lime, plus mixes such as tiger’s blood, pink lady and hulk (that’s grape, green apple and pineapple). Some flavors have no food dye, such as “clear cherry.”

Owner and operator Alma Vallejo also comes up with custom blends, which include the Obama (blue Hawaiian) and Michelle (strawberry daiquiri).

These snow cones are made with finely shaved ice and come drenched in syrup so there’s not that drained ice at the top. The place is no frills, lacking décor and tables. You’ll find yourself eating yours out on the front sidewalk with other snow cone-heads. In that way, it is reminiscent of Aunt Stelle’s, and it’s close enough to Kiest Park that it might be possible to get there before your ice melts

ICE CREAM


Stephen Smith always wanted to open a chocolate shop.

But by the time he got the financing together, there were already two chocolatiers operating in Oak Cliff — CocoAndré and Dude, Sweet Chocolate.

There weren’t any locally owned ice cream shops after Carnival Barker’s closed, so last summer he opened Betty Ringer Ice Cream at Sylvan Thirty.

Smith previously owned Nib Chocolates, holds a degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants.

All of the ice cream at Betty Ringer is made from scratch.

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Most places whose ice cream is made in-house use pre-made bases, but not here.

“It’s expensive, and it’s more work,” Smith says of making the base.

Besides that, it prevents him from selling wholesale unless he buys a multi-thousand-dollar pasteurizing machine. Even though everything in the ice cream is pasteurized, Texas requires pasteurization at the end, unless you’re using a pre-made base.

Anyway, this truly scratch-made ice cream is worth the $4 per scoop.

The flavors change all the time, but there’s always a cookie flavor (cookies and cream is in high demand and often sells out quickly). And there’s always a tea flavor because Smith is a tea-drinker, so he makes up flavors based on things he likes from the Cultured Cup. There’s always vanilla, which is used to make shakes and floats.

And there’s always a vegan flavor.

“The vegan ice cream is a work in progress,” he says. “It’s hard to get the texture just right.”

But he’s getting close after experimenting with pea-shoot milk.

Creative flavors Smith has concocted include Oaxacan spice, raspberry lemonade (that’s raspberry sorbet swirled with lemon ice cream), banana pudding and blueberry/lavender/honey.

Betty Ringer has an atmosphere — bright paint colors and café tables — and there are places to sit outside.

It’s open year round, regardless of the outside temperature, and it’ll be open seven days a week starting in June.

PALETAS

Don’t forget to support your neighborhood paletero. When it’s 90 degrees, and you see him or her pedaling or pushing a cart up and down the hills of Oak Cliff, buy two. Buy three. Heck, buy the guy out and make some friends.

From Paletería la Mexicana to Frutería Cano, there is no shortage of places to buy a Mexican popsicle in Oak Cliff.

But these two are really special.

Former Richards Group executive Diana Díaz started Encanto Pops with her sisters in 2016.

They learned the craft from an uncle who has a paletería outside of Chicago, and their place is adorable.

Popsicle flavors include cucumber/lime/jalapeño, watermelon/hibiscus, strawberries and cream, and café de olla.

Picolé Pops opened in the Bishop Arts District last year. 

It’s the concept from two brothers, Adrian and Andrés Lara, whose grandfather owned Manhattan Paletas in Mexico City. They were inspired by the ice cream flavors on a trip to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

Fruity or creamy flavors include açai, hibiscus, avocado and peanut butter. The can also come filled, such as banana with Nutella, passion fruit with condensed milk and mint with chocolate ganache. Any of them can be dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with unlimited toppings such as nuts or crushed Oreos for $1.

SNOWBALLS

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While snow cones abound, there is only one New Orleans-style snowball place in Oak Cliff. There’s a difference.

Maureen Ehrlicher opened NOLAsnoballs at Jefferson Tower last summer.

Ehrlicher and her husband, David, are from New Orleans, but they’ve lived in Oak Cliff for 27 years.

“I grew up with four kids in the family, and we weren’t rich by any means,” Maureen Ehrlicher says. “But we could always afford to go out and get a snowball.”

Snowball ice is fluffier than the crunchier ice of a snow cone. NOLAsnoballs employs a New Orleans-made Southern Snow machine to get that authentic effect.

They have a few dozen flavors, including four that are sugar-free and three — cherry, pineapple and raspberry — that are made from real fruit.

Cream flavors, such as dreamsicle and pink passion, have evaporated milk in the syrup. The chocolate flavor is made with Hershey’s syrup, just like in New Orleans.

Ehrlicher says she and her middle daughter used to go to Aunt Stelle’s “all the time.”

“In fact, the first time I went, I ordered a chocolate, and she said, ‘You must be from New Orleans because nobody orders that flavor,’ ” Ehrlicher recalls.

But she says she’s won a few converts to chocolate snowballs since opening her own place.

Ehrlicher has adapted the menu to include requests such as pickle flavor. She now offers a pickle-juice snowball with chopped pickles on top. Call it New Or’cliff.

The stand is open all year as long as the temperature is over 50 degrees. And really, it’s OK to call it a snow cone.

“I don’t care what you call it as long as you come in and try it,” Ehrlicher says

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