15 Frozen Treats from Around the World
From Canada to South Africa, get a spoonful of these chilled desserts from around the globe.
Dominican Republic: Helado de Potecito
For Clara Gonzalez, who runs the blog Simple by Clara, helados de potecitos were a highlight of her childhood summers in the Caribbean. “This summer treat is just frozen mango puree mixed with strawberries, like an extra-simple mango and strawberry trifle,” she says. “It turns out incredibly creamy and needs no added sugar whatsoever. It’s so easy to make that your kids can pitch in, and you can get creative by adding other fruits if you wish.” Wish you were in the tropics? Try these Caribbean recipes at home.
South Africa: Peppermint Crisp Fridge Tart
This refrigerated dessert is made with South African products: thin Marie biscuits, peppermint chocolate candy bars, caramel flavored-condensed milk and Orley Whip, a dairy-free cream topping. According to South African Chef Hugo Uys, the milk gets heated and then mixed with Orley Whip. Then, he creates a base layer of biscuits in a rectangular or square dish. Chef Hugo spoons over the cream and caramel sauce and then sprinkles on some crushed peppermint crisps. The dessert is both decadent and refreshing!
Brazil: Acai Na Tigela
Acai is a deep purple superfruit—and it’s the centerpiece of this frozen Brazilian breakfast dish. The acai berry gets pureed and frozen before it’s blended with guarana syrup and topped with add-ons, including sliced banana and granola. You make something similar at home—top a smoothie bowl with frozen acai.
England: Raspberry Ripple
This frozen treat originated in Britain around the 1920s; over time, raspberry would become its main flavor profile and would be adorned with a syrup of fresh raspberries. This raspberry has since been applied to cakes, meringues and other tasty treats, but the classic ice cream cone tops the list of traditional British desserts.
This shaved ice dessert was originally served during Japan’s early Heian period as an aristocratic summer treat. It became more publicly accessible during the 19th century, with the first kakigori store opening in Yokohama in 1869, and it’s still shaved today using a hand-cranked machine. The most popular flavors include strawberry, cherry, lemon, green tea and sweet plum. For a creamy texture, condensed or evaporated milk is often added.
France: Glace Plombieres
This vanilla ice cream is made with eggs, almond extract and candied fruits soaked in kirsch. Supposedly, this dessert was to cover up a cook’s failure at a dinner party in for Napoleon III in Plombieres-les-Bains. The cook messed up a custard for the French emperor and scrambled to save it by whisking in kirsch!
Canada: Maple Taffy
It’s a winter treat, but this lollipop is a fun way to sample this Canadian commodity. To make maple taffy, maple syrup is heated and drizzled over a patch of clean and fresh snow. Then, a wooden popsicle stick is placed at the base to pick up the treat and eat it. Like the sound of this? You’ll want to try snow ice cream, too.
New Zealand: Hokey Pokey Ice Cream
This vanilla-based ice cream specialty gets its name from added bits of a honeycomb toffee known as hokey pokey, a beloved New Zealand candy. It’s made by heating sugar and golden syrup plus adding in baking soda, like fairy food or sponge candy. Each year, New Zealanders devour 1.3 million gallons of hokey pokey ice cream!
Meaning “spaghetti ice” in German, this dish literally looks like the Italian pasta. In Mannheim, ice cream maker Dario Fontanella came up with it by pressing vanilla ice cream through a spaetzle press to create the look of spaghetti. This frozen treat is topped with strawberry sauce to replicate the tomato sauce of the spaghetti dish; instead of Parmesan cheese, white chocolate is sprinkled on top.
Meaning “mix-mix” in Tagalog, this dessert has ingredients tied to the Philippines’ history as a Spanish colony and both a Japanese and U.S. territory. Its base is made from shaved ice, sugared red beans and sweetened condensed milk. Then, a layer of local fruits is added, such as lanka, tender coconut, and ube jam. It’s covered with a layer of Spanish leche flan, then topped with a scoop of ice cream and toasted rice cereal.
California: Frozen Chocolate Banana
The United States is known as the birthplace of the banana split. It’s also the home of the frozen banana, a treat that was born in Newport Beach, California. Each frozen banana is skewered, dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts, sprinkles or other various toppings. You can make bite-size frozen bananas at home!
Puerto Rico: Limber
A staple of her Puerto Rican childhood, Jessica van Dop DeJesus of Dining Traveler would ride her bike to her neighborhood store to get parcha (passion fruit) limber. “They consist of fruit juice and sugar, frozen in a plastic cup,” she says. The most popular flavors are tropical: coconut milk with cinnamon, passion fruit, tamarind or soursop.
Thailand: I Tim Pad
This rolled ice cream starts off as a base of milk, cream, sugar and flavorful ingredients that gets mixed together on a steel surface with a temperature as cold as -15°F. The vendors use metal paddles to quickly chop the ingredients together and spread the mixture into a thin layer. Once this layer firms up, the ice cream is scraped into thick rolls and ready to serve.
Similar to a sorbet, this semi-frozen dessert is tied to the story of a Sicilian tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. In wintertime, a group of men would gather snow from Etna, Peloritani and other mountains and store it away for summer. During warmer months, this snow would be collected, then grated and mixed with fruit syrup or lemon juice. We crave this lemon granita all year round.
Trinidad and Tobago: Soursop Ice Block
Felix Padilla of Simply Trini Cooking remembers looking to quench his thirst after playing cricket or soccer outside with friends. He loved ice blocks! “They came in a variety of flavors,” Felix says, “usually fruit juices or Kool Aid frozen in ice trays, but I liked the milky ones.” His favorite flavor was soursop, which was made with four ingredients: soursop pulp, condensed milk, water and a splash of bitters. Back then, Felix and his friends paid about 25 cents for one ice block.