Cold Treats Around the World

In the warm weather, who doesn’t love a cold treat?!

If you were to look at the concept of ice cream around the world in different cultures, you might be interested to know how much culture impacts this cold treat. From the common ingredients to the method of making it, we wanted to show you some popular options from around the world.

USA – Homemade Ice Cream

In the USA ice cream is a novelty and treat that most people can link to sweet memories. Whether it is from a specialty ice cream parlor or a little street vendor, ice cream can range from simple to complex. We wanted to focus specifically on homemade ice cream. At a big family gathering, someone has the ice cream recipe that is simple and stays in the family. You combine the ingredients and put it in the ice cream maker. Growing up some children have even made it by hand. It comes out a smooth, creamy consistency – definitely more soft than hard. Sometimes you may add extra flavors in the machine or just add toppings afterwards. Though it may be easier to just go buy a tub of ice cream at the store, most would know what homemade ice cream is.

Typical Homemade Ice Cream Recipe

Video of Making Homemade Ice Cream

Ice cream frozen yogurt colorful serving counter parlour with many scoopable flavors, sorbet, chocolate, toppings, coffee

Italy – Gelato

Gelato is a frozen treat closely related to ice cream, but with distinct differences. Using more milk and less cream and butter fat, gelato is more dense and intense in flavor than ice cream. Similar to the novelty of homemade ice cream in the US, making gelato is a family endeavor and recipes are cherished. Today, you can find this Italian treat all over the world.

Typical Gelato Recipe

Exploring How Gelato is Made in Italy

Turkey – Dondurma

Dondurma is a cold creamy treat, sticky in texture and much thicker than a traditional ice cream. However, what makes this treat more fun is the men selling it! They wear traditional robes and take their job very seriously, which means making sure everyone is laughing! “The cheeky ice-cream sellers trick young and old alike, by passing the scoop of ice-cream from cone to cone while the buyer’s hand tries eagerly (and fails) to catch it.” The thickness of the treat allows this game to go on and on at times! (Check out the link for the video below to see an example.)

Istanbul, Turkey – May 11, 2016: Traditional Turkish ice cream vendor shows his performance. Very shallow depth of field image.

Typical Dondurma Recipe

Video with Information on Dondurma

Japan – Mochi

Mochi is a cold dessert that marries two delightful treats – Japanese Mochi sticky rice and ice cream. Mochi in just the sticky rice form has lots of history connected to it within Japanese culture, linking back centuries to the “samurai who needed a portable meal.” When you make a small ball of Mochi filled with ice cream, it becomes this simple, yet delicious treat that is growing in popularity in the Western countries. In Japan, something very similar is Daifuku, which is simply “filler Mochi.” Traditionally Daifuku is filled with a sweet red bean paste, but Mochi filled with ice cream, which they call “Yukimi Daifuku,” has become a huge hit in Japan. This interesting twist on an ice cream dish is definitely worth a try!

Multi-colored Japanese ice cream Mochi in rice dough and Jasmine flowers on a concrete blue background. Traditional Japanese dessert on a black slate.

Simple DIY Ice Cream Mochi

Equador – Helados de Paila

Helados de Paila is a sweet crushed ice and fruit juice mixture traditionally “handmade in a large bronze bowl.” This Ecuadorian street food ends up having a similar texture to a sorbet, and is mostly flavored with tropical fruits. The process to make this treat is tedious and labor intensive, though many are trying to find new and innovative ways to do this tradition including using liquid nitrogen. Which do you think is better, the old process or the new?

A video of the traditional preparation of Helados de Paila (in Spanish, but even if you do not understand you will be able to see the process)

India – Kulfi

Kulfi is a cold treat found in India and surrounding countries. It is creamy like ice cream, but more dense and the texture is different. You can see kulfi sellers walking the streets with small carts selling these frozen treats. They are sold in a cylindrical shape on a stick like popsicles and in a variety of flavors. Though you will be able to find flavors like mango and chocolate, the more traditional taste is malai kulfi made with milk, sugar, nuts, and cardamom. Now you can find this treat in stores in many other countries around the world!

Traditional Kulfi Recipe

Video of Malai Kulfi 4 Ways

rajwari or rajwadi sweet kesar badam pista kulfi or ice cream candy

Go Deeper

In my free printables section on this website I include a printable that helps your family explore culture at the grocery store, specifically looking at a particular item and how that food is part of the culture and impacted by the culture. These cold treats would be a great way to use this printable and allow your family to dig deeper into culture together!