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A couple of summers ago, I jumped on the frozen pops bandwagon (Popsicles for most of us, but that name is trademarked), as I'm wont to do, because I spend a lot of time reading about and eating food. I only realized recently that most people do not spend a disproportionate amount of time daydreaming about their next meal. Seriously? What else is there to think about, people?
Anyway. Being ice-cream-maker-less at the time, I decided ice pops would be the best way to make quick cool-off treats during the summer months. I bought some molds. I got lots of comments about how ridiculous-looking they were. So I bought some more civilized ones, per the recommendation of ice-pop queen Fany Gerson, of La Newyorkina. (If you find yourself in New York City, be sure to seek out one of her carts. I tried the tamarind flavor and was instantly in love.)
There are so many different flavors to try and make. But honestly? I came across this one recipe for fudge pops on my favorite food blog of all time, www.smittenkitchen.com, and I never looked back. I don't have time to mess around with other flavors. I want these, and only these.
Fudgy and icy and sticky, they're sweet but not terribly so. So incredibly satisfying on a hot day.
The only problem? Ice pops can be difficult to unmold and start to melt instantly. I decided getting the pops unmolded is what separates true cooking giants from hapless kitchenfolk like me; the second time I made these, I let them sit in warm water for too long and the tips melted away, leading to a cone-shape effect.
I find it's best to run warm running water over the molds until the pops loosen up and can be safely wiggled out in one piece. Unmold all the pops at once, then stick them back in the freezer on a plate and give them a second freeze to keep them from melting too quickly at time of consumption. Once frozen solid, I wrap each individual pop in plastic wrap and keep them in a zip-top plastic bag.
I doubled the smittenkitchen recipe (adapted from Matt Armendariz, another one of those who knows about delicious food), as hers yielded only four. I made a batch with butter and a batch without and quite frankly couldn't tell the difference. Those with butter are probably a little richer and silkier, but if you want to skip the butter, it won't hurt the final product.
Jenna Cho blogs about food on theday.com. Email her at email@example.com.
Fudge Ice Pops
Adapted from smittenkitchen, which itself adapted a recipe from "On a Stick!"
Makes 8 ice pops in my molds
4 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch (corn starch is what gives these pops body and texture, so don't skip it)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2½ cups milk (smittenkitchen calls for whole milk; I used 2 percent)
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
In the bottom of a medium saucepan over very low heat, melt the chocolate chips, stirring constantly until melted. Make sure you melt the chips completely, otherwise, you'll have chunks of chocolate that won't melt as you add the rest of the ingredients in.
Stir in sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, milk and salt and raise heat to medium. Cook mixture, stirring frequently until it thickens, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter and stir until combined.
Set aside to cool slightly, then pour into molds. Freeze 45-60 minutes, then insert ice pop sticks (I use disposable wooden sticks). Freeze overnight.
Like Pavlov’s dog, the start of fall triggers an unhinged desire to buy more apples than one person can responsibly eat, and drink gallons of apple cider, and wrap myself in cozy sweaters and read by pumpkin-scented candles.