We’re not sure what’s more fun: watching ice cream being rolled into cigar shapes, selecting toppings for the unique dessert or eating it. The finished product is Thai rolled ice cream, a handcrafted Asian sweet that has found its way to Colorado Springs.
Rolling ice cream caught on in the street markets of Thailand and spread to other Southeast Asian areas. There’s much to be amazed about with this treat, starting with how it is made. The process takes about two minutes, and is just plain fun to watch.
At I-Cool Thai Ice Cream, 6820 N. Academy Blvd., owner Andy Liu and his son Wei are the ice cream rollers. Andy opened the shop about a year ago.
“We heard a radio show about it,” Wei said. “My dad went to Los Angeles to buy the equipment and learn how to make it.”
They got busy showing us how the ice cream rolls are crafted. They pour a cup of flavored milk-based liquid onto an extremely cold metal circle that looks like a big pizza pan. This freezes the base. (Some places use dry ice to chill it, and others run coolant underneath the surface, which plunges the temperature well below zero.)
As it freezes, they use metal paddles (think putty paddles) to chop mix-ins like Oreo cookies into the base and start manipulating the mixture in a sort of kneading method as if making bread. Next, they spread the freezing mixture out in a big circle. Then, like an artist, they push the ice cream with the paddles, turning the strips into rolls. The strips resemble cigars and stand in small cups.
Then comes the challenge of selecting toppings. There are American-style offerings like toasted marshmallows, Oreo cookies, gummy bears, coconut and, of course, hot fudge. Or you can choose from Asian toppings like grass jelly, popping boba (chewy tapioca balls), pandan jelly (agar agar jelly), green tea pocky (flavored biscuit sticks), green tea powder and red bean paste.
Or, if you prefer to let I-Cool do the creating, they offer 10 menu concoctions. According to Wei, the top sellers are Oreo Land (vanilla ice cream with Oreo cookies) and Chocolate Monkey (vanilla ice cream with bananas and Nutella).
Suwanna Sumnieng Meyer, owner of Chaang Thai restaurant on North Academy, has fond memories of rolled ice cream from night street markets in Bangkok. Since I-Cool has opened, she has tried several options there.
“I like the green tea and Thai tea ice creams they have,” she said. “Thai tea ice cream is very rich and creamy. I taste a lot of Thai tea flavor. I topped it with marshmallows, wafer rolls, strawberry pocky, chocolate pocky and gummy bears. The green tea is flavorful too. I love it topped with red beans, marshmallows, chocolate pocky, strawberry pocky and strawberry popping boba.”
Sound like an eating adventure? You can also find Thai rolled ice cream at The Ice Cream Lab in Old Colorado City and on the dessert menu at D Station Hot Pot in the shopping center on Bass Pro Drive.
Contact the writer: 636-0271.