A Snowball's Chance 

Baltimore's favorite frozen treat comes West 

| San Francisco   Dining | Jessica Battilana

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If your knowledge of frozen treats ends with Bi-Rite's salted caramel, you're missing out.

The culinary calling card of Baltimore, the snowball, has reached the Bay Area. Skylite Snowballs, run by Maryland-born Katie Baum (pictured), is dispensing syrup-topped shaved ice from an adorable powder-blue truck.

Though they're traditionally made with neon-colored, artificially flavored syrups ("Skylite" refers to a blue syrup especially popular back East), Baum enlisted Chez Panisse pastry chef Stacie Pierce's help in creating a kinder, gentler snowball.

Her syrups are flavored with Tcho chocolate, Four Barrel coffee, Jasmine tea, Moroccan mint, puckeringly tart grapefruit and a half-dozen other flavors ($3 to $7) that, naturally, change with the seasons.

The truck debuted last fall, then took a winter hiatus. It's returned for the season, parking weekly at Oakland's Star Grocery and at Berkeley's Wednesday-night Off the Grid food-truck gathering. Skylite is also available for private parties.

To get the full experience, Baum encourages topping your snowball with a cloud of homemade marshmallow creme, a creation dubbed the "hard-time sundae" during the Depression, when the popularity of snowballs skyrocketed.

It seems improbable--the fusion of flavored ice and marshmallow--but it turns out to be improbably good.

Skylite Snowballs; 510-333-7566 or skylitesnowballs.com. For locations, follow @skylitesnowballs on Twitter.

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