July 07, 2024

Tasty Trio of Paletas!

Cucumber Mint, Strawberry Ascolano Daiquiri, and Cherries & Cream Paletas shown on a plate with a 12 section ice pop maker in the background

We Know them as Popsicles(™)


As temperatures soar, there's nothing quite like indulging in a refreshing icy treat to beat the heat. (See what I did there with treat, beat, and heat: it's so hot I've devolved into speaking in rhyme! 🙄)

Icy confections come in many forms, each offering its own unique texture, ingredients, and cultural history. Sorbet and sherbet, for instance, are often mistaken for one another, but they differ mainly in their dairy content: sorbet is completely dairy-free, while sherbet has a small amount of milk or cream.

Shave ice, a favorite when we visit Hawai'i, consists of finely shaved ice drenched in flavorful syrups; it's a treat that originated in 10th century Japan, where it is known as "kakigori." Italian granitas provide a coarser alternative with their crystalline texture, created by repeated freezing and scraping.

Popsicles and paletas, both frozen on a stick, also offer a cooling respite. Popsicles are usually made from sweetened, flavored water or juice, whereas paletas from Michoacán often feature chunks of fruit or a creamy base.

Other frozen delights include gelato, the dense and smooth Italian ice cream; kulfi, a rich and creamy dessert from India; and frosé, a trendy concoction made from frozen rosé wine. Each of these treats provides a refreshing escape, showcasing the diverse creativity found in frozen desserts around the world.

I love all of these sorts of ices--The Mister, not so much. He'd rather tuck into a "black and tan" sundae, so it took some negotiating for me to convince Donald to work with me to develop a few recipes.

The list of possible combinations is considerable, only limited by what was in season or available at our local markets. Suffice to say I had more ideas than were practical to make, and was thwarted repeatedly by lack of options here in the boonies so I've decided to keep my list as an ongoing background project and publish a new trio of recipes each summer.  

Paletas vs Popsicles

When it comes to homemade icy confection on a stick, I'm more of a "paletas" person than popsicle person. I love chunky fruit and some bit of cream, whether heavy cream, Greek yogurt, or coconut milk, and we've come a long way from the days of freezing reconstituted Hawaiian Punch in aluminum ice cube trays. Teenage experiments with Hawaiian Punch yielded varying results, and now I know why--these desserts require a certain level of sugar or alcohol to achieve the right texture. If the juice is too watery your confection will be a disappointing chunk of colorful ice. Using a bit of cornstarch to inhibit ice crystals is another insight, which we've done in our recipes. 

Add Olive Oil to your Recipe!

Why add olive oil to your icy confection?

Reason #1:  Add olive oil to your recipe for flavor! As you've read in my other posts, blending EVOO into milky liquids really let's the fruity nature of olive oil shine, and this is abundantly clear when using the distinctively fruity Ascolano. I tried these recipes both with and without olive oil and the the fruitiness was indeed amplified by the addition of Ascolano.

Reason #2:  Add olive oil to your recipe for health! Whenever you have the chance to add a healthy fat, take it!  Both fat and fiber reduce the glycemic index of foods, so chunky fruit suspended in some sort of fat, whether milk fat, coconut fat, or olive oil, will contribute to regulating blood sugar.

The Ascolano suggested here is used in conservative amounts. I'll be doing more trials for flavor and texture in the future, and am eager to test the resultant paletas when reducing dairy or coconut milk and increasing Ascolano. [Note to self, both lemon and basil olive oils should be added to the trials.]

Trio of paletas (aka popsicles) shown left to right: Strawberry Ascolano Daiquiri, Melon & Cherry with Ascolano, and Cucumber Mint Ascolano

 Test recipes shown left to right: Ascolano Strawberry Daiquiri, Ascolano Cherry Melon, and Ascolano Cucumber Mint Paletas