Welcoming summer is accompanied with rising temperatures. Luckily, popular ways to refresh include consuming chilled desserts.
Internationally, chilled desserts come in different shapes and sizes, but they all share a purpose: Satisfying the sweet tooth on a scorching day. Whether it be Italian gelato or Filipino halo-halo, there’s a delicious dessert for everyone.
Here’s a list of refreshing desserts from different cultures around the world.
Frozen banana — California, United States
Frozen bananas originate from the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach circa 1940. The dessert consists of a whole frozen banana on a stick dipped in chocolate. The consumer has the choice of selecting various toppings such as nuts, sprinkles and more. This frozen treat is perfect for a summer’s day!
Banana split — Pennsylvania, United States
America sure seems to go bananas for bananas! The banana split is said to have been invented in 1904 in Pennsylvania. It’s been an iconic dessert ever since! For example, it has been featured in shows like “Stranger Things” as a decadent dessert to convey the typical American sweet. Banana splits typically have a horizontally cut banana topped with three scoops of ice cream and chocolate sauce in between the slices. It’s usually prepared in a long, shallow dish called a float. Maraschino cherries top off this platter.
Gelato — Italy
Translated to “frozen” in the English language, gelato was invented in the 16th century. Although it’s similar to ice cream, Italian gelato consists of more milkfat and less cream to provide a richer flavor. There’s an enormous variety of flavors ranging from vanilla to stracciatella, a traditional gelato flavor that consists of chocolate shavings. Throughout Italy and especially in tourist areas, most streets will have at least one gelato shop. With the luxurious display of prismatic colors from all the different flavors, the irresistible sight attracts customers for a refreshing treat.
Paletas — México
Paletas are gourmet Mexican popsicles, but don’t be fooled by their similar appearance to the frozen popsicles from grocery stores nearby. This dessert consists of much fresher ingredients. Either fresh fruits like pineapple and strawberry or creamier flavors like dulce de leche are used when creating paletas. When buying such a treat, the creators are careful to use only the best of the best.
Açaí bowls — Brazil
The refreshing purple-hued bowls consumed by beach lovers originated in Brazil. The bowls are traditionally made from pureed açaí berries grown in the Amazon Forest and topped with fresh fruits. However, the açaí bowl evolved when it reached Hawaii and spread to the mainland. Thus, the treat now emerges with a different appearance that we see today. Frozen açaí berries are blended with frozen fruits for a sweeter taste, finished with additional fruit. You can find other visible toppings such as goji berries, cocoa nibs, granola, honey and even peanut butter.
Shaved ice — East Asia
Shaved ice exists in many different forms around Asia, but a prominent one is found in Taiwan. Often sold at street markets, the name xue hua bing translates to “snowflake ice.” It consists of a huge mound of ice shavings with a diverse selection of toppings that’s chosen by the consumer. Commonly, dessert lovers enjoy red bean, mung bean, tapioca, condensed milk or seasonal fruits.
Other countries that have their own variation of shaved ice include Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Different countries have their respective flavors and vary across the continent. For example, green tea and kinako (toasted soybean) are seen paired with the Japanese version of the dessert known as kakigori. This treat even made its way to Hawaii with Japanese immigrants.
Halo-halo — Philippines
Halo-halo means “mix-mix” in Tagalog and is a popular chilled dessert from the Philippines. It typically consists of crushed ice and condensed or evaporated milk and is topped with various toppings such as ube (purple yam), various fruits, ice cream, flans and more. The result is a medley of different finishing touches and flavors. The texture is also simultaneously chewy, creamy and crispy. Although sometimes described as a hybrid of a milkshake and a parfait, there’s no clear description because of the huge modifications based on personal preference.
Kulfi — India
Kulfi is a frozen dairy dessert originating from India during the 16th century. It’s a traditional dessert with vibrant flavors like saffron and cardamom. Based on a person’s palate, it is finished with pistachio and various other nuts. The slow cooking of the milk explains why it melts slower than ice cream and appears denser. Street vendors in India often sell the delicious frozen pop for those that pass by.
Hopefully you loved learning more about delicious summer treats around the world!