From Taiwanese shaved ice desserts and Greek frozen yogurt to Mexican popsicles, consumers are faced with an increasingly international array of frozen desserts this year.
In the US, a frozen, Taiwanese dessert that looks like layers of a ruffled skirt and dissolves in the mouth like cotton candy is the latest Asian import to the heat up the iced dessert scene.
The frozen delicacy originated in Taiwan 50 years ago -- also home to bubble tea -- and is made by shaving flavored flash-frozen ice blocks.
It's the latest Asian import that's poised to attract a cult following, after frozen yogurt chains like Pinkberry and Red Mango imported a tart fat-free fro-yo from South Korea that's commonly referred to as ‘crackberry' for its addictive quality.
Here are a few other ice cream and frozen dessert trends to look out for this summer:
Greek frozen yogurt
Ice cream makers are also tapping into the soaring popularity of Greek yogurt, putting the denser, thicker version on ice. This year, for instance, Ben & Jerry's launched a new line of Greek Frozen Yogurt in flavors like strawberry shortcake and blueberry vanilla with graham cracker swirl.
The Mexican version of popsicles is made by puréeing fresh, seasonal fruits and blending it with either milk for paletas de leche or sugar. Popular flavors include watermelon, cantaloupe, lime and strawberry. Industry group the Ice Cream University predicts that more paleta shops will pop up throughout the US in 2012.
In the same vein as the Taiwanese frozen iced dessert, patbingsu is a popular cool-down dish for Koreans during their scorching summers. Made with shaved ice, the dish is topped with sweetened condensed milk for a creamy texture and topped with fresh fruit and sweet red beans. Fast food outlets like KFC, McDonald's, Starbucks and Burger King in Korea have also added the dessert to their menus during the sweltering summer months. With the rising popularity of Korean fare in Western cultures, look out for patbingsu to make an appearance on menus.
R-rated ice creams
At the International Dairy Foods Association's ice cream innovation competition this year, cocktails like gin and tonic were put on ice and dashed with some cream, while a pistachio brittle, bourbon caramel ice cream won the award for most innovative prototype flavor. SnöBar is likewise a commercial line of cocktail-inspired ice creams and popsicles in flavors like Cosmopolitan, Margarita, Pink Squirrel and Grasshopper.