Although 'Russian' and 'delicious' aren't generally considered synonyms of each other, naysayers should leave any doubts at the door when it comes to getting stuck into ice creams from the world's largest country by land mass.
We're not being tsarcastic here; at their best, Russian ices are both creamier and fluffier than their Western counterparts and are still subject to cultish devotion in their homeland to this day. They've also been key in what we're going to glibly call 'ice-cream diplomacy' when president Vladdy P made a gift of ice cream to Xi Jinping
, which prompted not only a Russian ice-cream craze in China but China's leader to comment that he enjoys the treat so much that he samples some every time he's in Russia.
Because of this, we just had to try these Muscovite masterpieces for ourselves. Over the course of a very sickly afternoon, we slurped our way through the contents of the freezers of Beijing's Russian quarter to find out which ice creams are fit for a General Secretary, and which deserve to be thrown out alongside the petty bourgeoisie.
The мороженное are ranked from our most favourite to our least (although there's not a truly bad one of the lot), and we've given them scores out of 5.
If Russian ice cream had a Platonic form, this would be it; rich, mousse-like and with mystical powers much like those of Rasputin that meant we couldn't stop eating it even after we started to feel queasy from an excess of sugar, this is an oligarch among peasants. 5 out of 5.
There's no beating around the bush here – this bad boy tastes exactly like a Snickers bar with the cloying nougat swapped for dense, vanilla-rich ice cream, and anyone with a peanut allergy is seriously missing out. Wherever the manufacturers are hiding, they've not skimped on the chocolate shell, and the caramel adds a contrast of textures that was pretty unique among our samples. 5 out of 5.
Okay, so the taste of this concoction will be recognised as identical to that of the sad, value-range treats your parents dug out of the freezer, but just look at that stunning hammer 'n' sickle wrapper. The true value of this straightforward vanilla and chocolate combo lies in its immense commitment to communist values, and we wouldn't have it any other way. 5 out of 5.
This pretty cornet has the same smooth, indulgent texture as the other ices from the 'red-writing-can't-read-it-sorry' brand that we tried, but the fact that it's boring vanilla rather than chocolate means it's finished just off the podium. It's way easier to eat than its brick-shaped sibling below, though, so choose this if you don't want to end up a sticky mess. 4.5 out of 5.
Vanilla ice cream, wafers, boom. Job done, comrades. 4 out of 5.
This purple rectangle promised, with the jaunty font used and the tipsy-looking peanut halfway up his ladder picking grapes, some kind of wine element, and so we felt a little disappointed when this turned out to be a few raisins scattered haphazardly through an ice cream sandwich. However, once we'd sluiced away our tears we were impressed by this sweet, fruity take on what seems to be a standard ice cream set-up, and we still want to hang in a vineyard with Mr Straw Hat up there. 4 out of 5.
Chocolate ice cream (which is alright but flies nowhere near the heady heights of our first-placed pick) meets a cheap-tasting but crisp choccy shell in this workhorse ice cream. It's not going to October Revolutionise your snack-buying habits, but when taking it on its own merits it does the job admirably. 3.5 out of 5.
It tastes identical to the patriotically-patterned number we awarded first-place to, but its packaging is way less entertaining. Sorry, you glorified choc-ice, but you lose on aesthetics. 3.5 out of 5.
This chocolate-in-a-cone ice cream wasn't nearly as outstanding as the far superior Eastern bloc-of-choc above. However, it was also way cheaper and wasn't quite so overwhelming in terms of sheer intensity of flavour, so it'd be a good choice for those too meek and mild to take on a face-sized slab of sugar and cream immediately after lunch. 3 out of 5.
The inferior chocolate-coated bar, this squat ice cream does gain some credibility for its potential to be stood on end like a firework. 3 out of 5.
It's like a big-ass Cornetto with a strange banana note and a limp, floppy cone. Decent, but we'd not take a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway to get our hands on one. 2.5 out of 5.
Much like the disappointed cosmonauts who lost out in the Space Race, this lacklustre ice cream suffers when munched in close proximity to the other, better desserts on this list. Its cone was stale, its ice cream tasted funky and (although we concede that we got an out of date one and thus would expect better things if it was fresh) it was just a bit boring. We'll add an extra half-point for the pyramid shaped box, though. 2 out of 5.