We all know the kind of days that require something cold, sweet, and refreshing. When the weather turns so hot that it actually feels sticky and the humidity makes the air feel like molasses, a hot slice of pie just isn't going to cut it. When you step outside and a wall of heat hits you in the face like you just opened the oven, a warm brownie is the last thing on your mind. No, the only thing that can cool down days such as these are desserts that have been frozen solid prior to serving... and ice cream isn't the only option.
Many people would be surprised to know that frozen desserts around the world look completely different from what's served in North America. Even Italy's gelato is no competition to some of the desserts found in South America and Asia, even though they're all a welcome surprise on a hot summer's day. If you're looking for new ways to stay cool via your sweet tooth, these international desserts are something to take inspiration from.
Dominican Republic: Helado de Potecito
It looks like a smoothie, but helado de potecito is so much more than just blended frozen fruit. This Caribbean-inspired drink is popular in the Dominican Republic, where mangoes are pureed at peak ripeness to create a smooth velvet-like concoction. Fresh strawberries are added to the mix to add tartness which balances out the sweetness from the mangos beautifully. It's not uncommon to find this blended drink made with other fruits, and you can get quite creative with the flavors.
It looks like a popsicle, but it's not! Paletas are just slightly different in the sense that many of them are filled with a creamy, rich filling that spills out as soon as you take a bite. The frozen part of the paleta is made with blended fruit to which agave or honey is added, and they're frozen to maintain that classic square shape. Paletas are also larger than the typical popsicle.
Kulfi isn't always served on a stick as is shown in the picture but it is always delicious. This dessert starts with a base of dairy but it's not churned in the way that ice cream is, meaning there's no air incorporation whatsoever. This results in a dense, frozen custard-like dessert, that's spiced with saffron, nuts, and cardamom.
The granita has become popular outside of Italy and you can even find it in gourmet frozen treat shops nowadays. However, making it is as simple as deciding on a flavor base and adding to it, then scraping it every few hours to achieve that shaved ice-type of texture. It's simple and satisfying on a hot summer's day, and fully customizable which is an extra added bonus.
South Africa: Peppermint Crisp Fudge Tart
Peppermint cake is not usually something one would associate with a summer dessert, let alone anything outside of the holidays. Peppermint, as a flavor, isn't even something anyone would associate with summer, in general, but this icebox cake is changing all of that. In South Africa, this dish is made with Marie biscuits, peppermint chocolate bars, caramel-flavored condensed milk, and Orly Whip, which is dairy-free. The layering of the cake ensures that every flavor shines through and also makes for super easy assembly.
The appearance of kakigori is slightly deceiving because, from the outside, it looks just like an ice cream sundae. This dessert reached its peak popularity during the 19th century and today, it's a staple in Japanese desserts. By incorporating condensed milk or evaporated milk, the dessert gets a texture that's velvet-like and creamy, and so satisfying when the temperature is sweltering.
Canada: Maple Taffy
This unusual way of making taffy is popular in both Canada and Vermont, where real maple syrup is produced seasonally. There are even entire festivals devoted to the art of pouring piping hot maple syrup over frozen ice to create a taffy-like treat, and it's perfect for the maple lovers of the world... no pancakes or waffles required.
The name of this dessert is translated to mean 'mix-mix' and that relates to the fact that shaved ice and sweetened condensed milk are often mixed with tropical fruits, nuts, or seeds. This blending of flavors and textures is what makes halo-halo so delicious, and its layers make it look just as delicious as it tastes. This is a dessert that you can have fun with, as well, by mixing and matching the base flavor and toppings.