Who doesn’t love ice cream? But rolled ice cream is becoming a global phenomenon, not sparing the United Kingdom. Very different from traditional ice cream, rolled ice cream, also known as Thai rolled ice cream or stir-fried ice cream, is prepared fresh right in front of customers.
The ice cream mix is poured over a freezing stainless steel plate and metal knives or spatulas that look like paint scrapers are used to churn it, chop it, mix it and spread it again and again. Once the mix solidifies, it is flattened onto the pan. It is then scraped into rolls before being served. Rolled ice cream gained massive popularity in Thailand and rapidly spread to Southeast Asia before expanding to Europe.
Rolled ice cream is the freshest possible form of ice cream
Rolled ice cream is not scooped out of buckets like regular ice cream. It is prepared right in front of customers in an original style, making it the freshest form of ice cream that is available currently. At the same time, everything is made to order: customers have the flexibility to choose whatever flavours they want. The preparation starts with a basic ice cream mix in liquid form and it can vary from as simple as chocolate to exotic flavours like dragon fruit. It all depends on what the customer wishes for. The flavours and combinations are extensive.
The rolled ice cream got its nickname “stir-fried ice cream” because its preparation method resembles a stir-fry. However, instead of using a hot surface, a very cold surface is used for the ice cream. It has to be spread as flat as possible to freeze. It is then scraped to form small cigar-shaped pieces that are served in cups with toppings. The texture of rolled ice cream is different from that of regular ice cream because initially it is much harder than the latter. When sticking a spoon in it, it may not seem so creamy but as soon as it is exposed to some heat, like inside the mouth, it immediately liquefies and is transformed into a really creamy texture, a lot creamier than the traditional ice cream.
Making rolled ice cream requires much dexterity as it is wholly handcrafted. The person making the ice cream has to keep pummelling it, adding fruits or other ingredients and flavours that the customer wants, until a nice mix is formed. The plate on which it is prepared is generally minus 30 degrees and the process takes about two minutes. While some vendors use dry ice to chill it, others run coolant underneath the plate.
Getting inspired by street vendors in Thailand
Many people who set up their rolled ice cream business were inspired upon experiencing it in Thailand. In this country, it is generally sold by street vendors. Rolled ice cream saw the day there in 2009 but it took some two to three years and many videos and social media posts for it to become popular. Today, customers may order just about any flavour they can imagine, without forgetting the classics like chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.
In the UK, the concept of rolled ice cream is relatively new but it is expanding rapidly. Many UK vendors discovered it in Thailand, like Pan-N-Ice. The two business partners discovered this ice cream while backpacking in Thailand and were immediately mesmerised. In the UK, they propose a large variety of sweet treats for the preparation of the rolled ice cream ranging from chocolate bars to doughnuts. Popping candy, fruits and meringues are equally some of the favourites of customers.
Rolled ice cream is loved for being highly Instagrammable
Rolled ice cream is a more-is-more dessert. It has become highly popular on Instagram as people flaunt it with various hashtags such as #icecreamrolls or #icerolls just to name a few. The rolls graced with delicious toppings are a marvel for Instagram posts. What is interesting for customers also is the fact that they can watch it being prepared creatively. It is indeed magical to see the liquid mix being transformed into visually appealing ice cream rolls within some minutes.
Meanwhile, customers are pushing the frontiers of this dessert by literally begging vendors to propose unusual weird or even crazy combinations. In Tokyo, it is not impossible to order ice cream with raw horse flesh, cow tongue, octopus and squid, or even salt. In the United States, some ice cream parlours propose pickled mangoes, blue cheese and foie gras to daring customers ready to experiment with the unknown and outlandish flavours of such ice cream.
Ice cream remains a loved dessert even in winter
Selling ice cream in winter may seem counterintuitive. However, the fact is that it remains a much loved dessert even during the cold days as it has long evolved from the classic vanilla scoop. Today, it is being combined with new ingredients such as alcohol or new flavours that can wonderfully complement on-trend desserts. For instance, oriental ginger or caramel ice cream perfectly marries a rhubarb crumble or sticky toffee pudding. At the same time, restaurants and parlours are taking great care to take every detail into consideration such as the presentation to reflect the premium nature of the dessert.
Chefs are equally experimenting new recipes as customers are becoming increasingly adventurous and open to new taste sensations. For example, smoked salmon gelato is proposed as an accompaniment to a fish starter. Between 2015 and 2017, the use of toasted, smoky or roasted descriptors in ice cream expanded by 2017 %, according to a Mintel ice cream insight. In the UK, almost half of adults would like to enjoy a wider variety of ice cream with high-quality chocolate and are simultaneously demonstrating sophisticated and adventurous tastes with regards to the dessert. Complex flavours such as dark chocolate smoked sea salt is one of the flavours that is enticing consumers who do not want any additional sweetness in their ice cream.