Six Summertime Desserts from Around the World
From left to right: a Korean red-bean ice bar, Korean Samanco, and Japanese mochi ice cream
As summer heats up, Americans celebrate warmer weather by licking ice-cream cones or by belting out ice-cream truck melodies at karaoke. But elsewhere on the planet, folks cool down with frosty treats that make the familiar ice-cream cone seem downright boring. Below, we explore kulfi, bào bīng, and other chilly desserts enjoyed throughout the world—and tell you where to find them in Chicago.
Korea: Samanco (and other red-bean desserts)
Korean chefs have long incorporated red beans into desserts, giving their sweet treats an added depth of umami. Among the modern interpretations available at supermarkets are red-bean ice bars (pictured at top of page, left) and fish-shaped Samanco wafers (pictured above and at top of page, center) filled with a winning combination of vanilla ice cream and red-bean paste. Find both at Joong Boo Market (3333 N. Kimball Ave.).
Japan: Mochi ice cream
Mochi (pictured at top of page, right) takes the form of petite globes with two layers: an outer “skin” made from pounded sticky rice and a luscious ice-cream interior. In Chicago, find mochi at Treasure Island Foods locations across the city.
China: Bào bīng
Street vendors in Taiwan famously sell bào bīng, a confection of fruits, jellies, and other toppings piled over heaps of shaved ice. Often, the dessert is finished with a swirl of creamy condensed milk. Try it for yourself at Vora (1028 N. Clark St.), where diners can choose from additions such as lotus seeds, coconut milk, and mini tapioca.
This vividly hued Filipino dessert (pictured above) combines components such as leche flan, jackfruit, and ube (purple yam ice cream). In Tagalog, “halo-halo” literally translates to mix-mix, since the parfait-like cup is meant to be mixed vigorously with a spoon before it’s eaten. Try it for yourself at Isla Pilipina (2501 W. Lawrence Ave.).
This creamy, slow-melting Turkish dessert has an almost taffy-like texture thanks to the thickening properties of orchid flour and mastic tree resin. It’s hard to come by in America these days, since its popularity has led to a decline in Turkey’s wild orchid populations (and a ban on the export of orchid flour). But in recent years, people have savored the exotic treat at Taxim (1558 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in Wicker Park.
Kulfi shares characteristics with American ice cream but is denser and creamier. That’s because, unlike ice cream, kulfi is never whipped with air. Instead, it’s made by condensing sweetened milk through a slow-cooking process and then freezing the milk in tight molds. Popular flavors include pistachio, mango, and rose. Try it at Tahoora Sweets & Bakery (2345 W. Devon Ave.) or Rangoli (2421 W. North Ave.).
Photos by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon
Shop Groupon for local deals on coffee and treats in your city.
Halley is a Chicago writer with southern roots. When she isn't typing, she enjoys cooking without recipes and designing garments for her upcoming clothing line, Ambidestre.