So. It’s been hot here lately.
Like, really hot. 108 degrees, hot. If there’s one thing you can count on in Phoenix in mid June, it’s relentless heat. Sadly, the calendar still thinks it’s springtime, but you wouldn’t know that if you stepped outside here on a random day at 3 PM!
When the weather gets hot (which is like 6 months out of the year here), the next best thing to a big air-conditioned room is holding a cold popsicle in your hand. These cherry vanilla ones are just the ticket! Fruity and bright from sweet dark cherries and a hint of almond extract, but at the same time mellow with creamy vanilla flavor, they pack a tasty punch. Whip up a batch the next time you’re staring at the calendar in disbelief, wondering how in the world it got so hot already. You’ll thank me later!
cherry vanilla popsicles
(yields 10 3-oz pops)
1/3 c (73 g) granulated sugar
2 Tbs (16 g) cornstarch
pinch of kosher salt
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup (57 g) sour cream
1 1/2 cups (360 g) milk
2 tsp vanilla (or the seeds scraped from two vanilla beans)
8 oz frozen red sweet pitted cherries, thawed
1/2 tsp lime juice
3/4 tsp almond extract
for simple syrup:
1/2 cup (114 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (53 g) water
1 Tbs (24 g) corn syrup
To get going on this awesome popsicle journey, start by making some simple syrup. Combine the 1/2 cup of sugar with the 1/4 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of corn syrup in a small saucepan. Put the heat on medium-low and let the mixture heat until boiling, stirring occasionally so the sugar is dissolved. Set the syrup aside.
Now it’s time to make some basic vanilla pudding base! In a medium saucepan, whisk the 1/3 cup of sugar with the cornstarch and salt. Add the egg yolks and sour cream, and whisk it all until it’s perfectly smooth, being sure to get all the sugar mixture that’s at the bottom edges of the pan. Add the milk and whisk it all until it’s combined and lump-free. Turn on the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook for one minute while whisking. Strain the pudding into a clean medium-sized bowl and stir in the vanilla extract. Set the bowl aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the thawed cherries, simple syrup, almond extract and lime juice. The almond extract is optional if you don’t have it or don’t want to use it, but there’s just something about almond extract that makes cherries taste more like cherries. Pulse the fruit and syrup about 5-6 times, until the cherries are mostly broken up with a few larger pieces throughout. Stir the cherry puree into the bowl of vanilla pudding until it’s fully mixed. This should yield about 3 cups of delicious cherry vanilla pudding-y goodness.
If you’ve got a 4-cup measuring cup, now is the time to use it for easier portioning into your molds! This popsicle mold is a great classic everyday popsicle mold, and the one I swear by. You’ll need some good 3/8 inch wide popsicle sticks as well, so plan accordingly when buying your popsicle hardware.
Grab your popsicle mold of choice and fill ‘er up! Leave about a 1/4 inch of space at the top of each popsicle to allow for expansion, so the lid of your mold doesn’t freeze to the rest of it. I’ve had this happen and it’s a bitch, ladies and gentleman. Get your popsicle sticks into the mold and find a flat surface in your freezer for the filled mold to sit and freeze for a minimum of 4 hours. Overnight is really best, that way you can be sure your popsicles are truly good and frozen.
Once frozen, the only thing left to do with your popsicles is yank them out of the mold and scarf ’em down. Maybe on a really hot day, you can go out armed with one in each hand? They’ll make you forget all about the summer heat because they’re so cold and delicious — and because figuring out how to maneuver with a popsicle in each hand is sure to get your mind off the heat for at least a little while!
Happy summer, everyone. It’s sure to be a long one.