Put a Latin twist on summer treats
Remember those summer days when you and your friends would pull out the fluorescent-colored Popsicles from the family freezer and go outside and lick until the only thing left was sticky fingers and the Popsicle stick?
No telling what was in those red, purple and green ice pops from the grocery store.
If you are looking for something with a little substance, bursting with natural flavors, you might try looking south of the border for the Mexican version of the American Popsicle, called paletas.
In Mexico, many children grow up eating these frozen fruit bars filled with seasonal fruit.
In recent year, paletas have been taking the American South by storm. Whether it is King of Pops in Georgia, South Carolina or Tennessee or Meltdown Pops in New Orleans, everybody is savoring the unique flavors of this Mexican treat.
Here are a few recipe ideas you can use at home to make your own summer siesta sweet.
Mango chile paletas
1 cup store-bought mango juice or nectar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large mango, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes
Heat mango juice, sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup water in a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
Stir cayenne pepper and cubed mango into the chilled mixture and pour into eight 3-ounce ice-pop molds. Insert a Popsicle stick into each mold and freeze until pops are solid, about 3 hours more.
Yogurt paletas with berries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups plain unsweetened Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups fresh strawberries, or the berry of your choice
Rinse the lemon, then peel it. (This recipe uses only the peel, so save the lemon for a different use.) Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon peel, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve, then refrigerate until chilled.
Add the yogurt and honey to the chilled syrup and stir until thoroughly combined. Put a bit of the yogurt mixture into each of the molds, to a height of about 3/4 inch. Freeze until the mixture begins to set, about 40 minutes.
Cut strawberries in to small pieces. Divide the berries among the molds, then pour in the remaining yogurt mixture, dividing it evenly among the molds.
If using conventional molds, snap on the lid and freeze until solid, 3 to 4 hours.
Pineapple and lime paletas
4 cups fresh pineapple
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, plus lime slices for garnish
1 teaspoon salt
Place pineapple, lime juice and salt in blender or food processor with just a splash of the 1/2 cup water. You do not want to dilute the pineapple flavor.
Blend until smooth and strain.
Pour fresh pineapple juice into your paleta mold, insert slices of lime and freeze for about 1 hour. Insert Popsicle sticks and freeze until solid, about 3 hours.
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 small ripe avocados
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut the avocados in half lengthwise. Remove the pit and scoop the flesh into a blender, along with the cooled syrup and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Add the lime juice and blend just until combined.
If using conventional molds, divide the mixture among the molds, snap on the lid, and freeze until solid, about 5 hours.