Coconut ice pops: summer's tastiest treats

Oh, sorry, but I ate all the pops before I could take a decent picture of any of them. Jenna Cho

It's not that I'm over the fudge pops, really. It's just that coconut came along and turned my life upside-down. I didn't know I even liked coconut that much. I didn't know a little this, a little that and a quick whirl in the blender could create a concoction so divine.

But there it is. The simplest, most delicious coconut ice pop that ever existed. Five ingredients, not counting the salt. Creamy, sweet, I think I'll eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thank you, Fany Gerson; your paletas (Mexican ice pops) recipes have yet to disappoint.

I used Bob's Red Mill unsweetened coconut flakes. They're wider, flatter and tastier than the sweet shredded coconut you'll find in the baking aisle. You open the bag and it smells like summer. Unadulterated, clean.

I highly recommend toasting the coconut flakes before adding them to the ice pop mixture, as Gerson does in her book "Paletas." The toasting adds a depth of flavor similar to what you get when you roast nuts.

This recipe made a little more than what my 10-pop mold could handle, but by the grace of God I have overflow ice pop molds, so this wasn't a problem. I don't recommend cutting the recipe in half, since then you'd be left with half a can of coconut milk and half a can of condensed milk. Just store the mixture for a second batch or freeze some in ice cube trays. The mixture stays pliable enough that you could even freeze some in small bowls and eat them with a spoon, like ice cream.

Coconut ice pops

From the book "Paletas," by Fany Gerson

1 14-ounce can of coconut milk

1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

2/3 cup half-and-half

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted

Toast the coconut flakes in a single layer in a toaster oven or oven (at 325 degrees) until golden. Be careful not to burn it. If you want to sweeten the flakes, Gerson recommends tossing them with a couple of tablespoons of confectioner's sugar before toasting. I found this step unnecessary.

Meanwhile, add all the ingredients (except the flakes) in a blender. Blend until smooth, then add the coconut flakes and stir by hand to incorporate.

Pour into molds. (I used a spoon to help get the flakes into the molds. Otherwise you'll end up with a whole lot of flakes at the bottom of the blender.) Freeze for about 1 ½ hours, then insert sticks into the molds. Let freeze completely, about five hours.

As with the fudge pops, I unmolded all the pops at once, then gave them a second freeze on a plate before wrapping them individually in plastic wrap.

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