As autumn slowly encroaches into NYC, and the humid summer stickiness slowly dissipates, the change of seasons heralds our annual analysis of the summer dessert trends that we have seen here in NYC. If 2017 was the year of rainbow desserts and the most curious (and sometimes, outrageous) ice cream creations, and 2018 ushered in a-thousand-and-one reinventions of the previously-humble soft serve, 2019 saw the emergence of life-in-miniature trompe l’oeil desserts and global flavours. Perhaps it is timely, with various parts of the world battling against each other in turmoil, trade wars and other tricky situations, that the rest of us more sane-minded people might come together in an appreciation all the sweet desserts that every culture has to offer.
A light Japanese petal
- Dessert destination: Cha-An Bon Bon, East Village, Manhattan.
- Short and sweet story: Hojicha ice cream. Earthy, with a touch of charcoal, the hojicha soft serve cup from Cha-An Bon Bon comes embellished with a coral-reef like assortment of red bean, mochi, sakura drop cake, a monaka crisp, all drizzled in a black sugar syrup called kuromitsu.
Sweet imperial fruits of China
- Dessert destination: Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Chinatown, Manhattan.
- Short and sweet story: Lychee ice cream. Light, sweet and fragrant would be the three words we would use to describe the lychee ice cream at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. On various visits, we have also sampled flavours such as almond fortune cookie, pandan, pineapple, egg tart, durian (super creamy!) and Thai ice tea, but it will be the lychee that demands encore visits to this shopfront with the little green dragon mascot.
Tropical delights of South-East Asia
- Dessert destination: Kaylee’s Creamery, Flatiron, Manhattan.
- Short and sweet story: Pandan, coconut, purple yam ice cream. As creamy as a body moisturizer, the (giant) pandan ice cream orb from Kaylee’s certainly evokes a trip to South-East-Asia, especially when consumed in the height of a humid NYC summer. Tones of coconut and yam add a more interesting fusion edge to an already luxuriant creation.
Honeyed serenades from the Subcontinent and the Middle East
- Dessert destination: Malai, Cobble Hill, Manhattan.
- Short and sweet story: Rose and baklava ice cream. A poem to the resplendent flavours of India as well as part of the Middle East, Malai’s rose ice cream inflected with cinnamon dust and roasted almonds, and the baklava ice cream, comprise two of our most memorable NYC ice cream adventures. We have also sampled little spoons of the masala chai, turmeric orange fennel, tahini, saffron, and fig flavours, which are all incredibly accurate evocations of their names, just a little of an acquired taste in parts.
Sour sparkler from Mexico
- Dessert destination: La New Yorkina, Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
- Short and sweet story: Mango chamoyadas. A sour yet refreshing samba of flavours, La New Yorkina’s chamoyada is a burst of pickled plum juice, salted chili, mango, and slushy ice, which may to varying degrees of success, be sucked up through the heavily-dusted tamarind candy straw. Beware the spice and ice combination, it’s quite surprising!
Union of the United States
- Dessert destination: Morgenstern’s, Soho, Manhattan.
- Short and sweet story: French fry ice cream, and pandan pineapple. America. Land of the wacky. Populations of wacky people. Run by a wacky president. Birthplace of some seriously wacky ideas, including wacky ice cream. Case in point, Morgenstern’s French Fry ice cream. Actually, very surprisingly addictive – salty and sweet, and a bit of a nostalgic hit from childhood days when these Dessert Correspondents used to stick McDonald’s chips into our 30 cent soft serve cone. #goodolddays. America, also land of the fusion, and Morgenstern’s pandan pineapple is a dream of Hawaii and Asia in one.