Binggao ice cream, cold summer treats


A glimpse of a bakery specializing in desserts in Shanghai. [Photo/WeChat account: shhplyj]

In the 1950s, a French pastry chef is said to have introduced to Shanghai the Italian method of making ice cream – commonly known as gelato in Italy – sharing the know-how with a group of local chefs.

Since then this dessert, blending the best of both ice cream and cake – known as binggao in Shanghai – has become a delightful and unforgettable summer delight for the city's residents.


Lao Da Chang's binggao. [Photo/WeChat account: shhplyj]

Lao Da Chang's binggao – a favorite haunt of the famous 20th-century Chinese writer Eileen Chang – continues to hold its position as the flagship offering of this iconic bakery and restaurant, which was established in 1937.

During production, fresh milk must be chilled in the refrigerator until it reaches a semi-frozen state before being whipped; walnuts are caramelized in a ratio of one pound of walnuts to half a pound of sugar, then mixed into the milk custard, resulting in an exceptionally flavorful and rich treat.


Shanghai binggao made by Jinchen Hotel. [Photo/WeChat account: shhplyj]

Just a stone's throw away from Lao Da Chang is the Jinchen Hotel, also renowned for its production of traditional Shanghai binggao.

Its ice cream is primarily crafted from fresh cream and milk, complemented by walnuts and rum. When enjoyed, the dessert exhibits no ice crystals, even if taken home and allowed to melt in the summer heat; a brief period of freezing will restore it to its original form.


A delicious glass of Xian De Lai's old Shanghai shaved ice. [Photo/WeChat account: shhplyj]

Another well-known establishment, restaurant Xian De Lai – famous for its pork chops and rice cakes – has launched a summer-exclusive dessert "old Shanghai shaved ice". The base consists of sweet and soft red beans, topped with tightly packed shaved ice.

When enjoying this treat, it is recommended to use a straw to puncture a hole in the ice, then take a deep sip after the sugar water and shaved ice have thoroughly melded, offering an incredibly refreshing and satisfying experience.


Source: "shhplyj" WeChat account