Food festivals are where the next big food trends are made. Whether it’s the perplexing but fascinating raindrop cake, the indulgent mish-mash dessert the cronut, or the ramen burger, it’s no secret that food festivals are the place to experiment with off-kilter food ideas and find some seriously good vegan eats. You can find dairy-free ice cream in just about any grocery store now, but dairy-free ice cream at a food festival always has a little something special that you just won’t find in a store. Food festivals are also a place to discover foods from cuisines all across the world you never knew existed. Take these Ichigo Daifuku for example. They’re a traditional Japanese sweet made from glutinous rice flour stuffed with fresh strawberry and sweet red bean paste. You’d probably run into a few classic desserts recreated with new twists, like this Strawberry Rhubarb Panna Cotta. We’re all about that.
That’s why we’ve sought out the most creative and indulgent desserts we have. You read that right. 15 creative, indulgent sweets that have hopped right out of a summer food festival and into your kitchen.
1. Chocolate-Dipped Ice Cream Tacos
There’s so much flavor and texture happening in every bite of these Chocolate-Dipped Ice Cream Tacos. You get the salty crunch of the taco shell, covered in smooth dark chocolate, the creamy banana ice cream — yum! For the filling, which you have two choices. The first is rich, chocolatey date sauce and the second option is tangy lemon curd — the choice of which filling you use is entirely up to you!
2. Lime-Sugar Churros With Caramel Sauce
If you’ve ever been to a festival, carnival, or fair, the chances are you’ve seen, or even got the chance to taste, the magical treat that is a churro. While most churros are enveloped in sugary, cinnamon crystals, this recipe for Lime-Sugar Churros With Caramel Sauce puts a twist on the traditional churro flavor and replaces the cinnamon with a tangy lime sugar. The usual chocolate dip that accompanies fluffy churros is also traded in for a coconut-milk based caramel sauce. Yum!
3. Caramelized Plantains With Coconut Cream
These Caribbean-inspired Caramelized Plantains With Coconut Cream are something we’d totally expect to see at a festival. The outsides are crunchy, the insides stay tender, and they’re the perfect balance of savory and sweet. The delicious coconut cream and flakes will transport you straight to Puerto Rico.
4. No-Bake Galaxy Cheesecake Bars
These No-Bake Galaxy Cheesecake Bars have a stunning color that looks like a galaxy! They’re quite simple to make; the only time-consuming thing is soaking the cashews and letting it all solidify in the freezer, but all of this won’t cost you any effort. Making recipe though takes about 10-20 minutes total, depending on how fast you work. Minimum effort and maximum reward — gotta love it.
5. Caramel and Chocolate Candy Apples
Do you love carnival food favorites like candy apples and funnel cakes, but don’t enjoy the major sugar crash that comes afterward? These Caramel and Chocolate Candy Apples have all the sticky-sweet deliciousness of traditional candy apples but since they’re made with dates, coconut milk, and cacao, they’re energizing! Best of both worlds!
6. The Raindrop Cake
Having the word “cake” in the title can be seen as misleading. The Raindrop Cake is definitely more for the adventurous palate. But it’s totally worth making for those who are looking to try a new kind of dessert that’s funky and totally adorable. The raindrop cake got its start in Japan and then made its way over to Brooklyn flea food market, Smorgasburg where it made waves. Don’t be sad if you don’t live in Brooklyn — you can make your own at home! Serve this lightly sweetened, jelly-like dessert with a sprinkle of sesame seeds or brown sugar.
7. Coconut Kinako Dango: Indian and Japanese Rice Dumpling Fusion
There’s always something creative happening in the food festival ring and these Coconut Kinkamo Dango are exactly the kind of fusion dessert you’d expect to see at one. Dango is a Japanese sweet dumpling made from rice flour called mochi. It’s sweet, doughy, and it also happens to be very similar to Kozhukattai, a South Indian rice flour dumpling usually filled with sweet or savory fillings. This recipe unites the two into one. When you bite into it, it’s very soft, and you get a nutty whiff of the roasted soy flour. The stretchy dango is interspersed with the crunchy sweet coconut filling, making for a very interesting mouthful. You really can’t stop with one!
8. S’mores Wontons
If you love s’mores anything, chocolatey and marshmallow-y, you have to try these S’mores Wontons. S’mores are a favorite treat of summer, but they can be messy. These creative snacks take away the mess by wrapping up all the melty chocolate and gooey marshmallows in a neat little wonton wrapper. Hello, delicious.
9. Orange Walnut Cronut
This indulgent dessert made its rounds as a popular street food and now, you can make it in your own home. These light and fluffy Orange Walnut Cronuts are flavored with fresh orange juice and zest, giving them a bright and citrusy flavor. A sprinkling of chopped walnuts and a drizzle of chocolate sauce adds a finishing touch and makes these cronuts as photo-worthy as they are tasty.
10. Raspberry and Dragon Fruit Mousse Cake
These Raspberry and Dragon Fruit Mousse Cakes are an amazing dessert experience. Melt-in-your-mouth and sweet, with a dark chocolate drizzle, they get their amazing mousse-like texture from cashews and their flavor from fresh, juicy dragon fruit and raspberries. You’ve got to try it to believe it. Healthy and flavorful — what’s not to love here?
11. Grilled Banana Split
Grilling makes everything taste better. Case in point: this Grilled Banana Split. This unreal sundae starts with grilled, caramelized banana halves and homemade, creamy vanilla coconut ice cream. Then, you top it with a warm, chocolate drizzle and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts.
12. Fa’ausi: Samoan Caramel Over Coconut Bread
This Samoan Caramel Over Coconut Bread consists of two separate parts that are assembled: fa’apapa, which is a coconut bread and a coconut milk caramel. The bread is light and fluffy, perfect for absorbing the sweet coconut milk caramel. Serve the leftover fa’apapa bread for breakfast, sliced and lightly toasted with vegan butter and jam and use the remaining caramel sauce for dessert.
13. Cinnamon Apple Dessert Tacos
These Cinnamon Apple Dessert Tacos are the kind of indulgent treat you’d encounter at the world’s greatest food festival … Except you can make these at home and the only line you’ll be waiting on is the one at the grocery store. They have a crispy fried tortilla shell that sparkles from the cinnamon sugar coating, a warm apple pie filling, and a topping of coconut whipped cream dusted with cinnamon that you should absolutely go overboard on. Crunchy, sweet, warm, and indulgent, this dessert is absolutely unforgettable.
14. Ichigo Daifuku
Daifuku is the name for a Japanese confection that consists of mochi, or sweet rice cakes, that have different kinds of fillings. One of the most popular is Ichigo Daifuku, or daifuku filled with fresh strawberry and sweet red bean paste. These mochi are soft and slightly chewy, with the distinct flavor of sweet red beans and a burst of fresh fruitiness from the strawberries. Serve these as a light dessert for a special occasion or sweet snack.
15. Green Monster Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Nobody will realize that this delicious Green Monster Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream has spinach in it—that’s right, spinach, in ice cream. In this recipe, greens are hidden in a sweet and minty cashew ice cream. It’s just like that classic mint chocolate chip flavor, only better for you. The texture of this frozen dessert is just like soft serve and the chocolate chips within can be added, more or less, to your liking.
What are the best vegan eats you’ve had at a food festival? Tell us all about it in the comments — we’d love to hear about it (and we’ll totally be jealous of you)!
Lead image source: Cinnamon Apple Dessert Tacos