When it comes to international culinary styles, ice cream doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Meanwhile, a few searches on Google reveal an abundance of international recipes for both savory and sweet dishes—and the nearest restaurant to try the regional fare. In some circumstances, a dish is so specialized—like these 18 near-extinct recipes—that all one can do is imagine how wonderful it tastes.
Isn’t it strange that of all the food blogs, cooking shows, and restaurants, international styles of ice creams are rarely brought up or served? The world’s most beloved sweet seems to be ignored across the field. But no more! Today, we’re taking a global ice cream crawl, stopping in far-flung places you wouldn’t believe are avid ice cream fans.
We won’t be surprised if you’re inspired to add one or two to your ice cream menu! When you do, turn to your Ice Cream Shop POS to update your menu and inventory.
Philippines: “Dirty” Ice Cream
Our first stop is far east in the Philippines. The local ice cream of the sprawling archipelago is sorbets, more commonly called by its nickname, “dirty” ice cream. There isn’t anything filthy about it, though.
Traditionally, the ice cream uses the milk of the carabao, a type of water buffalo common to the region. Nowadays, coconut milk is a common choice. Cassava flour—you might know this as tapioca—is added to thicken the sauce. Never served in cups, sorbets are served in a wafer cone or as an ice cream sandwich on sweet bread. It’s also highly irregular for locals to go to an ice cream shop. Sorbetes are commonly served out of deep tins by street vendors.
London is one of the first Western cities to serve this delicious style of ice cream, courtesy of the newly opened Mamasons.
A traditional recipe for Mexican custard is the base for chongos, a delightful version of ice cream. First made by nuns in colonial times, a pot of milk and sugar is brought to a boil and curdled with rennet, the same enzyme used for making cheese. Once curdled to perfection, the treat is sprinkled with cinnamon. Flan lovers flock to this Mexican-style of ice cream; chongos are a colder, creamier take of the beloved custard.
The ancient Persians were among the first ones to master the art of storing ice in large containers called yakhcals. Yakhcals are naturally cooled containers where the Persians store the ice that they collect during the winter season. The ice that they store is combined with fruits, saffron, and other flavors that results in a mixture called faloodeh, which is widely made in Iran today.
Gelato: the most popular of all international ice cream styles. Not only is gelato a divine dessert, but it’s also lower in fat than its creaminess lets on. This is because milk is used for the custard, instead of heavy cream. The custard is churned at a slower pace than ice cream, which deepens the flavor profile of the ingredients, and pushes out the air, allowing it to develop its creamy texture. Did you know that ancient Romans ate their gelato with a buttery brioche roll? Try it on your menu!
The Turkish Ice Cream looks like normal ice cream and may even taste like a normal one, but isn’t it normal.
A bizarre texture of an ice cream that doesn’t melt is what makes this ice cream unique with an impact of chewiness. If this doesn’t impress you, then the Dondurma vendors are known to put up spectacular shows, while playing with the ice cream scoops and luring the customers.
Who would have thought the practical Germans would invent such a wacky and delightful concoction like the spaghettieis. The German noodle spätzle is a common side dish, like roasted potatoes, and traditionally made in the kitchens at restaurants, not store-bought. Sometime in the 1960s, ice cream shops got hold of the spätzle-makers and pressed ice cream through them. The final result was a long, vanilla-flavored spaghetti-shaped ice cream, topped with red strawberry sauce and shavings of white chocolate; hence the name spaghettieis (“eis” is German for ice)!
Like the Italian gelato, the Indian dessert kulfi is slowly cooked, creating a dense and creamy ice cream. Common flavors are rosewater or tropical fruits like papaya and pineapple, and they are often served with an addicting “crunch-factor,” like roasted pistachios or crushed vermicelli noodles.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, aristocratic Russians followed the trends of the French upper class. Sartorial fashions were mimicked, and the food adapted to their tastes. This is how Russia developed its version of European-style ice cream. The decadent plombir is an extremely rich style of ice cream—heavy on buttercream and eggs—and resembles a thick, frozen pastry cream.
Asia: Stir-Fried Ice Cream
You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the labor-intensive process to make stir-fried ice cream. From China to Cambodia to Thailand, this icy cold treat is unlike anything we know in the United States.
Presented as flat rolls of ice cream, the preparations begin with custard poured over a freezing-cold, metal surface that’s been chilled to minus 31 degrees F. Ingredients are added, such as chocolate or fruit, and then swiftly mixed and chopped into they’re blended. Once the flavors are combined, the ice cream maker spreads the mixture thin across the frozen surface and rolls it into delicate tubes of ice cream that can be picked up with your fingers. Watch this video to see the show first-hand.
Ecuador: Helado de Paila
When traveling through the high Andes of northern Ecuador, it’s common to find vendors waiting by the roadside to prepare a fresh batch of helado de paila for passersby. The Ecuadorian treat is made in front of you on a large round brass pan. Fresh fruit, sugar, and water or cream are added to a bed of crushed ice and continuously spun until the ingredients have melted together to create the frozen delight known as helado de paila, which means “ice from the frying pan” in English.
Dining out to enjoy exotic and global flavors is a huge trend among consumers, and ice cream parlors should be no exception! Be inspired by these international styles of ice cream, and invite your customers to travel the world with one serving size.