Known for its adventurous flavors, Dallas frozen-yogurt chain Yumilicious has a trail-blazing new fro-yo flavor that would likely make you sizzle: mango-habanero.Yumilicious describes it as a convergence of sweet mango and habanero heat, moderated by the base of tart yogurt.
Hot chiles are usually more savory than sweet, but spokeswoman May Wong points out that the habanero is especially fruity and builds on the fruitiness of mango.
"It's a good fit for Texas palates, and it follows the uniqueness of Yumilicious," she says.
Yumilicious was the pioneer that introduced tart frozen yogurt à la Pinkberry to Dallas. The company opened its first branch on McKinney Avenue in Uptown under the name Yogilicious, then switched over to Yumilicious in 2009. It now has about a dozen branches around Dallas-Fort Worth and a branch in Austin, at Anderson Lane and MoPac, near the Alamo Drafthouse.
Pairing mango with habanero is not unprecedented; you can find the combination in a few bottled salsas and as a sauce option at some chicken-wing chains. But you don't often see it in desserts.
The flavor was created by Sam Handa, who owns the Yumilicious locations in Allen and Plano. He drew from his heritage and was inspired by the fact that one of Yumilicious' most popular flavors is another you wouldn't expect in a dessert: avocado.
"We do offer traditional dessert flavors like chocolate, but we've always been noted for exotic and authentic flavors like green tea and taro," Handa says. "Avocado has been one of our best-sellers, and I think it's because it catches people's attention. It's a flavor that people don’t think about in dessert form. I was thinking about desserts that way and also considering my background. I'm from India. We love spicy food."
He says that habanero and mango are actually pretty good partners.
"It's a two-toned experience where you first taste the sweetness of the mango, and then, as soon as the sweetness passes, boom comes the habanero," he says. "It's not overpowering. It just makes you want it more. That’s what spice does."
That said, it's not crazy hot. Handa describes it as "a little warm."
"It depends on how your taste buds are with spicy flavor. I'd say it’s medium," he says. "It's not macho, not for the chile guys who like to get into the super hot. But it's good for Texas. It's good for people who like ethnic food."
Handa so enjoyed conceiving the flavor that he's moved into mad-scientist mode. "I've been working on another one with cucumber and jalapeno," he says. "I've got a lot of flavors in mind. I want to hit the spicy portion. No other place is doing it. I want Yumilicious to stand out and be known for spicy flavors."