Stir-fried ice cream, anyone? If it’s conjuring up some awful images of vegetables and meat mixed in with ice cream, then never fear, that’s not the case.
It’s a viral video sensation that has been wowing tourists over in Asia, including Malaysia and Cambodia, but audiences in the UK can also play.
Friends Henry Milroy and Rob Huysinga came across the concept when travelling in Thailand and launched their business Pan-n-Ice, popping up in vans and music festivals around the UK, as well as in Selfridges.
So what’s this ice cream that is setting people stir crazy?
Toppings, tacos and the bubble waffle
Well, the way it’s made is quite mesmerising. A creamy, milk-heavy base is poured on to a -30C metal plate. Toppings are added and then, using two spatulas, the mix is chopped and spread into a paste. It is then scraped into small cigar-shaped rolls and stacked in a pot.
Not only is it a sweet treat, but it offers a theatrical, almost hypnotic show for those millennials looking for an experience from their food.
As the website says: “Pan-n-Ice is leading the way in the UK to offer a more playful way of delivering your frozen treats. Delicious hand-crafted ice cream and froyo rolls made in front of your eyes on our marvellous frozen plates.”
It’s proving good business too, with the boys selling around 500 ice creams on the weekend.
You can even bring your own toppings, but Pan-n-Ice’s ingredients include Oreos, chocolate sauce, Nutella, Ferrero Roche, pistachios and passionfruit, as well as themed ones like the ‘Mess that was Eton’ made up of strawberries, raspberries and meringue.
The boys have even branched out to incorporating chopped up doughnuts and cakes into the mix.
Of course, there is also a vegan version which uses a dairy-free coconut cream base, which is then combined with the ever popular avocado, as well as a non-dairy option called ‘Matcha Doing Later’ with fruit and that vegan base.
While a lot of the flavours are indulgent, there is also a frozen yoghurt option that has under 1% fat.
Not to be stopped at putting the ice cream cigars in a cup, they can also be stuffed into a sweet taco that is made fresh on site every morning, as well as the infamous bubble waffle. That’s a lot of trends all rolled into one.
But Pan-n-Ice hasn’t really gone down the unusual flavours route yet, unlike others who are using Asian innovations to experiment with the taste of ice cream.
So is Sparkie tempted to risk brain freeze for some stir-fried ice cream?
This has been doing the rounds on social media for a while and appears to be quite popular.
I expected this to blow up a while back and be one of those you see all over the place, but for some reason that hasn't happened yet and it makes me suspicious that there is something holding it back that isn't obvious from the first look.
Potentially the equipment is expensive (online seems to hover around £4k, which makes it quite a high capital expense for a single product), difficult to maintain or comes with impossible safety rules for the UK due to it being such a cold plate. I definitely think health and safety would have something to say about it being made directly in front of customers like in the videos from Thailand, which limits the theatre of it all.
The potential is definitely there though.