At this point, you’ve no doubt seen the pictures and videos on social media of cream being frozen and manipulated into rolled ice cream before your very eyes. The question is, is the hype real?
Stir-fried ice cream, AKA rolled ice cream, is a traditional dessert originating from Thailand and other East Asian countries. It only recently caught on in the US last year, beginning with 10Below in New York, eventually making its way to other major cities around the US. I had the chance to try this dessert from 8 Fahrenheit, Atlanta’s first rolled ice cream store, on Buford Highway.
The entire shopping center parking lot where 8 Fahrenheit is located was FULL, with a few cars idling as they waited for a parking space to open up. The line spilled out the door and curled out in front of the neighboring pupusería. The store was packed with people, and all of the indoor and outdoor seating was occupied, leaving some to sit on the sidewalk and staircase.
There’s ten or so different flavor combinations, incorporating flavors like banana, matcha, oreo and more. You pick a flavor and three toppings of choice.
I opted for #5, Black Humor, flavored with chocolate and oreo, topped with strawberries, blueberries and toasted marshmallows.
On a Saturday evening, the total wait time was ~15-20 minutes, but I didn’t mind, because half of the fun came from watching the employees make the dessert.
Using metal spatula-type tools, they smashed and mashed fresh fruit, cookies and the like on a chilled metal surface before pouring a cup of sweet cream over it. It’s similar to what hibachi chefs do as they chop up vegetables and meats on the grill.
Almost immediately, the cream begins crystallizing. Using the spatulas, they blend the cream and flavorings together, until the mixture begins to take on the color of the flavorings. When it’s nearly time to roll it up, they begin to spread the mixture out thin on the icy surface, and within seconds, it begins to harden. Sometimes, they drizzle cute messages or images on the surface with chocolate sauce before rolling it up. They put the spatula at the base of the sheet of ice cream and forcefully push, turning the ice cream onto itself into a fat, little roll. Each sheet usually yields 5-6 rolls. Using tongs, they fit the rolls into a paper cup and add the toppings. It’s truly a work of art.
At $6 per cup, 8 Fahrenheit’s rolled ice cream is definitely worth a taste, because you’re paying for the service, as well as the actual ice cream itself.
Because it’s a simple recipe (just sweet cream and whatever flavorings/toppings), the ice cream tastes super fresh and leaves a clean taste in your mouth. The texture is surprisingly smooth and creamy. My cup of Black Humor tasted like Cookies ‘n Cream, and the portion was large enough that my family of four could happily sample from one cup.
Will the line always be ridiculously long? Probably not. America has a tendency to latch onto longstanding food traditions and phenomenalise them, turn them into trends. In a few months or years, the hype about rolled ice cream will probably die down, but for the time being, it’s HUUUGGE.