Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Food Desert Project: Creamy Chocolate-Date Popsicles


It is hot as blazes. So hot that even the dog goes outside begrudgingly and only at the last possible minute - when ordered. So hot that we don't even want to take advantage of our beach pass - we're certain the scorching sun and burning sand will negate any benefit we get from the cool water. In weather like this, we want to sit under a fan, languidly sipping icy cold drinks and slurping frozen desserts. Nevermind all the fresh fruit in season (of course, no fresh fruit is in season in the Food Desert.) we want refreshing, cold relief, and we want it NOW!

This popsicle recipe caught my eye on Photograzing (which, incidentally, has been very kind to us at Quips, so check them out!,) originally posted in the Los Angeles Times.  I was instantly intrigued: all you need is a blender and a freezer, and you can make your own milky Mexican-style Paleta.  I know tahini paste is a stretch for most food desert pantries, so for my version, we're using a common substitute (which admittedly will change the character of these pops to something a bit more kid-friendly) peanut butter.  And since I typically keep only low-fat dairy products in my pantry, I decided to substitute sweetened condensed milk for the honey to add a bit of fat, too - but even though they taste like one, these pops aren't that much of an indulgence; they're less than 200 calories per serving.  If you don't have Greek yogurt, you can either strain your yogurt for a denser popsicle, or just use regular plain yogurt for an icier one.

1 1/2 cups nonfat yogurt
1 cup 2% milk
12 large pitted dates (or about 1/2 cup chopped dates - but if you use these, reduce the condensed milk to 1 tbsp because they have added sugar)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk 
A 3.5 oz dark chocolate bar of your choice, chopped
(a dash of cayenne pepper would probably be really good in this, but it's a nonstarter for Sparky so we didn't try it - please post in the comments if you do!)

001Make measuring easy on yourself: first measure your cup of milk in a large measuring cup.  Add the yogurt until you reach 2 1/2 cups, and pour it all into the blender.


Add your dates, peanut butter, and sweetened condensed milk and blend until the dates are completely pulverized.

008Chop your chocolate bar carefully (you'll need big chunks, but not so big that they won't melt in your mouth. Think half the size of a chocolate chip - which you can substitute if you want.)

Add it to the blender and pulse once or twice on low speed so you incorporate the chocolate without crushing it further.

Pour into your popsicle molds - I found these great silicon push-up pop molds online which we love, but which fit only half the recipe.

For the remainder, I used my beloved jelly jars, with a cut-up plastic bag underneath the jar bands.  I broke the bowl off of plastic spoons, and stuck the handles through the plastic so they stood upright in the freezer.  Makes 8 popsicles.

(You can make miniature versions the same way with a plastic-wrapped ice tray.) Unfortunately, both silicone and tempered glass are good insulators - so the popsicles took a little longer than we'd have preferred to set up completely: about two hours. (A nice benefit to the push-up molds: you can eat your popsicles semifreddo.)

Aaaaahhhh...the relief is palpable.


AND they're tangy, refreshing and chocolatey delicious - just what you want on a scorching summer day.  


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