Tempura ice cream is a deep-fried Japanese dessert that combines an external crispy hot breaded crust with an inner sweet and cool icy centre. A hot and cold guilty-pleasure dessert that we all deserve! At least sometimes right?
Learn how to prepare this simple and considerably healthier dessert using less sugar and oil. Prepared in just 10 minutes at home!
In this guide, we cover all you need to know about what makes a great panko fried ice cream. Learn about its origin, history, and the differences from other types of desserts. For the health-conscious, we'll show you how to prepare it using an air fryer. Without further ado, let’s jump into it!
What Is Tempura Ice Cream?
Tempura ice cream is made by wrapping a ball or clump of ice cream using white loaf bread, pound, or castella cake. The wrapping is then frozen before it is then dipped in a frying batter and deep-fried in very hot oil. This dessert is always served fresh and hot, and its charm lies precisely in the contrast of heat and cold.
Apart from the hot and cold winning combination, the rich and creamy concoction goes perfectly with the breaded crust that is fried to golden perfection. Such a pairing is rarely disliked and hardly refused.
This is why this dessert has grown to become so popular in the United States in recent years. But where does fried ice cream actually originate from?
Fried Ice Cream Origins and Types
Although it is not known where it actually comes from, today, it is often considered a part of Asian and Mexican cuisine. Here are some popular renditions of the sweet treat.
There are records that point to it being an American invention. Some argue that the fried dessert was first served during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, while others say it was patented in 1894 by a Philadelphia company.
American-style fried ice cream usually uses a bigger scoop of ice cream and is served as a sharing dessert.
Meanwhile south of the US border, Mexicans rave about the fried dessert menu that their national food chain store Chi-chi offers.
The Mexican variant uses ingredients such as cornflakes, nuts, and cereal to coat the outer layer of the dish.
In Asia, there is evidence of Chinese fried ice cream dating all the way back to the 1800s. The Chinese version is prepared by hand and is usually made to a size that is similar to a steamed bao or mantou.
Meanwhile in South Korea today, we can easily find stalls that serve fresh deep-fried treats in street food markets like the Keunaegi Night Market in Ulsan.
These ones are usually prepackaged and frozen, just to be quickly fried when ordered by customers. This type of tempura ice cream would be served with drizzles of honey or a sprinkle of icing sugar.
During the 1960s, Japanese restaurants serving tempura created tempura fried ice cream. This was made using Ebi tempura batter and is where the name originates from.
Apart from this type, there is also panko fried ice cream which uses breadcrumbs.
Today, the most famous version of fried ice cream is the Japanese version of the dessert.
Tempura Ice Cream Vs Mochi
Mochi ice cream is frozen in order to be eaten. Meanwhile, the other dessert needs to be fried and served while hot (on the outside). Very often, people mix these two items.
Both Japanese desserts are often compared together as they both have a soft sweet filling. Mochi is made from a sticky rice layer that wraps around the icy centre. Taro mochi is a perfect treat you can try at home.
Tempura Ice Cream Calories
Depending on the fried batter, toppings, and sauce, an average serving of tempura ice cream could contain over 300 kcal.
The essential ingredients used to make this dessert are high in sugar and high in fat content. It is not a recommended dessert dish for anyone who is looking to lose weight and should be enjoyed in moderation.
How To Make Fried Ice Cream Healthier
We have made some changes to the ingredients used to make this dish healthier.
No Tempura Batter
The name of the dish is a result of the original recipe using a batter that resembles what is used to make Tempura Ebi (Japanese-style deep-fried prawn). In contrast, there is also the panko fried ice cream type, which uses breadcrumbs. This makes the exterior crunchier and crispier upon frying.
In this recipe, we do not use a tempura batter as it is not essential. The word "tempura" in the name of the dish only refers to it being fried in oil. Instead, by coating the bread with egg and panko, you get a crunchier texture which adds to the overall experience of the dish.
Using White Bread
We also chose to recommend white bread as the recipe's ingredient as it is a more affordable and accessible ingredient for the majority of households. It makes the overall dish less sweet in comparison to the traditional Castella that is used. However, white bread in itself has a natural sweetness that we feel goes great as part of the dessert dish.
Our healthier version significantly reduces the amount of sugar and oil used in the dessert. Perfect for people who want a mildly sweet treat! This recipe prepares 4 servings of this dessert and takes only up to 5 minutes. You can also choose to freeze them to cook for later!
Tempura Ice Cream | Fried Green Tea Ice Cream
- 4 pcs green tea ice cream
- 8 slices white bread
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 pc egg
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- First, take the slices of white bread and trim their crusts. Then, flatten the bread slices using a wooden roller or anything equivalent.
- Layout a piece of plastic or cling film on a flat kitchen top and place a slice of bread in the middle. Open the ice cream stick packet (or scoop out from the tub) and lay them on the bread slice.
- Fold the edges of the bread slice to the top of the ice cream, wrapping the bottom and side portions. While holding the folded bread in place, take another slice of bread and place it on the top part of the ice cream. Use the other slice of bread to cover any gaps. To finalise the wrapping, use the cling film to tightly wrap the two slices of bread around it. You may choose to use a rubber band or some tape to completely seal. This will help to freeze this in place.It should be completely wrapped by the two slices of bread within a layer of cling film without any gaps. Repeat this step for all 4 servings of tempura ice cream.
- Freeze them in the freezer for at least an hour.
- After freezing for an hour, spread the panko breadcrumbs on a flat tray. Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk it until the white and yellow are thoroughly mixed. Then unwrap the cling film and coat the piece with a layer of the whisked egg. Next, coat the outer layer with panko breadcrumbs, gently pressing them in to ensure they stick to the outer surface.
- Then put them in an air-sealed plastic bag or container, and freeze them overnight or for at least 3 to 4 hours.
- When you are ready to cook, first heat up oil in a deep pan or pot until it becomes very hot (190 degrees Celcius). When ready, take them out from the freezer and deep fry over high heat for just 30 seconds or until the outer layer is golden brown.
- Place the tempura ice cream on a plate and sprinkle it with some powdered sugar if desired. Serve while it is still hot!
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
We were inspired and credit this recipe to mesa’s table Youtube channel. She devised the recipe and made a video showing the full process. Please do check the video out for a more visual reference.
Air Fryer Version
Anyone who has an air fryer knows that it is a fantastic appliance to reduce the amount of oil used in a dish. However, they can also be quite the hassle to clean.
Thankfully, making tempura fried ice cream in an air fryer is relatively mess-free. So here are some tips for you to prepare this Japanese dessert using an air fryer!
Firstly, follow the instructions until step 6 as per the recipe above. Then follow the following steps:
- Place a piece of aluminum foil at the bottom of your air fryer. Make sure to fold the edges of the foil to make it into a tray.
- Preheat the air fryer until it reaches a temperature of 400 degrees Celcius.
- Once ready, take out only one serving from the freezer. Then, immediately place it on top of the aluminum foil. Fry it for 2 minutes only. It is important that you only fry one at a time.
- Remove the tempura ice cream from the air fryer and place it on a serving plate. Serve with some icing sugar or any of your favourite toppings!
As mentioned above, this dessert dish is popular in many countries. Because of that, there are many variations that we think you should give a try!
A popular version is the Orea tempura ice cream. Use an oreo flavoured version instead of the matcha green tea in the recipe above. We also recommend trying using Filipino Ube or just a plain vanilla flavour.
You can also try replacing the white bread or traditional castella cake with Matcha Castella Cake for a stronger green tea taste.
It is also possible to completely omit the use of white bread, pound cake, and just fry it. However, the oil will need to be hotter than 190 degrees. You will also need to act fast to prevent the filling from melting. Use a thick tempura batter to achieve this.
Changing the toppings to the dessert would also make a delicious difference! In South Korea, drizzling it with honey seems to be a crowd-pleaser. Chocolate or strawberry sauce toppings would also an additional tang to this already tasty dish.
Surprisingly, you do not have to go to a Japanese restaurant to be able to enjoy this dish. Why not spend some time at home this coming weekend to give yourself the sweet treat that you deserve? Enjoy!