Summer is the season for fresh fruit, so it’s also the obvious time of year to make and enjoy frozen fruit desserts like ice cream and paletas.
I’ve been exploring frozen popsicles a bit lately after picking up a great new book on the subject, Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas by Fany Gerson. The book lists for $16.99, but it’s usually available for less. It’s a bargain at full price.
Gerson, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, can certainly be considered an expert on the subject after running La Newyorkina, New York’s premiere experience for frozen Mexican treats.
So far my paletas expedition has focused on sour cream based popsicles and those using yogurt. Since I’m a fan of homemade yogurt using local milk (Apple Valley Dairy in East Berlin, Pennsylvania) I’ve spent more time making new varieties of this style with the current fresh fruit in season at the local markets. Fresh ingredients make great food, and nothing beats buying the produce from those that grow it, or at least as early in the retail chain as possible. And any recipe that uses only six ingredients gets bonus points in my mind.
Gerson’s paletas de yogurt con moras (yogurt ice pops with berries) have been great with all of the fruits I’ve tried so far. For my latest treats, I used some large, fresh blackberries I picked up locally. Because of their size, I cut each berry in halves or thirds.
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups fresh berries
The recipe may be found online (printed with permission) at the Cooking Channel web site, but the process begins with creating a lemon-infused simple syrup, easily created with the sugar, water, and lemon peels. As a side benefit, the peels, discarded after creating the syrup, are great placed in a summer drink.
Greek yogurt may be purchased, but as a homemade yogurt enthusiast, I simply placed my own yogurt in a sieve until most of the whey was drained. This excellent, thick yogurt was added to the honey and lemon syrup and blended until smooth.
A small amount of this popsicle base is poured into either a commercial mold or any small containers of your choice. After placing the molds in a freezer for a bit, pieces of the blackberries or other fruit are added to the mold. The remainder of the sweetened yogurt base is then added to each popsicle until it reaches just below the top of each mold or container. Sticks may be added at this point, and a lid if applicable. After a few hours in the freezer, these frigid treats are ready to enjoy.
By placing the molds partially into a pot of warm water for a few seconds, the popsicles will release from the container. The yogurt base does melt fairly quickly at this point, so have small plastic bags ready and return to the freezer. (As a cheapskate, I place two popsicles into each bag.)
Take another look at the recipe ingredients above… difficult to buy commercial frozen treats when making your own yields a better tasting popsicle and one where you can control the ingredients inside. Even after trying only two recipes in Ms. Gerson’s book, I feel that I’ve already gotten my money’s worth in value. I’d highly recommend a purchase. I’ve included links to the other items that would be handy, but not necessary. Give paletas a try.
Popsicle Mold: Norpro Ice Pop Maker
Popsicle Sticks: Progressive International 50-Count Wood Freezer Pop Sticks
Milk: Apple Valley Creamery
Recipe Online: Cooking Channel