In my last post I wrote about how hot it had already been in Portland this year. What a difference a couple of weeks can make! Now it seems that–somewhat out of defiance–the arrival of summer actually brought cooler temps, and the weather here is now skirting along the edges of being downright chilly. I am finally realizing–after nine summers in the Pacific Northwest–that it is foolish to think you can predict the weather here, and to always be prepared for anything. Therefore, I am trading sandals for boots this week, bundling up with my favorite wool throw, dreaming of warmer, sunnier, days, and the treats I will crave during that time.
I’ve been making coconut milk ice cream for a few years now, but when I won the amazing “Dairy-Free Ice Cream” cookbook by Kelly V. Brozyna last year, the caliber of my frozen desserts went from “really good” to “outstanding”. I’ve learned a lot of tricks from Kelly, such as how to sweeten my desserts naturally with dates, and what kind of stabilizers to add to prevent my frozen treats from being too “icy”. After trying about 85% of the recipes in her book last summer (it was hot in Portland last year. HOT!), I feel pretty confident venturing off on my own now, while still keeping Kelly’s techniques in mind.
I had never used yogurt as a base before I start tinkering around with these pops, and now I think that I will be using it on a regular basis. I absolutely love the slight tang it gives these pops, and anytime I can boost my probiotic intake, I do a little happy dance. Since I can’t have dairy (dang allergies), I make a batch of coconut milk yogurt every other week (also one of Kelly’s fabulous recipes, except I leave out the vanilla and stevia). I think this recipe would work brilliantly with full-fat, unsweetened dairy yogurt as well, although I haven’t tried it yet.
I didn’t follow one of Kelly’s recipes exactly here, but rather a combination of her recommendations and techniques, and the ingredients I had on hand. I think this recipe could be used throughout the year, subbing other fresh, seasonal fruit for the cherries. I can see these pops blowing minds with pretty much any kind of berry, peaches, nectarines, ripe figs, and maybe even roasted apples or pears in the fall.
I’ve never gotten around to buying one of those fancy pop molds, but this paper cup technique has been serving me well for years. The cups and sticks can be composted afterwards, so you need not worry about any negative environmental factors. If you do happen to have a pop mold, and want to use it, more power to ya. This recipe can also be poured into an ice cream maker if you would rather have something spoonable. This is the one I use, and it never fails me. Just be sure to keep the bowl in your freezer at all times, and you are good to go.
Cherry-Coconut Frozen Yogurt Pops
- 2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1 ½ cups full-fat, unsweetened yogurt (I used homemade coconut milk yogurt)
- 1 cup unsweetened hemp milk (you could use other types of milk here as well)
- ½ cup pitted Medjool dates
- 1 tsp. kombucha (you could definitely leave this out, or sub lemon juice)
- ¼ tsp. almond extract
- 1 (2-inch) piece vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1 T. grass-fed gelatin, optional
- 1 Honey Mama’s CocoNoNut Cacao-Nectar bar, chopped
- 3-ounce paper cups
- Wooden popsicle sticks
Place half the cherries (1 cup) in high-speed blender (such as a Vita-Mix), along with the yogurt, hemp milk, dates, kombucha, almond extract, and vanilla bean seeds. Blend until smooth. Place gelatin in a small bowl (if using), and whisk in ¼ cup boiling water. Restart the blender, and add the gelatin mixture through the feed tube while the engine is running. Blend for about 30 seconds, or until well-mixed.
Pour the yogurt mixture into a bowl, and stir in the remaining chopped cherries and Honey Mama’s pieces.
Place 16 (3-ounce) paper cups on a baking sheet, and spoon the mixture into the cups. Place the baking sheet in the freezer, making sure the surface is flat. Once 30 minutes or so has passed, remove the sheet from the freezer, and place a popsicle stick in the center of each cup. Place the sheet back in the freezer. The pops usually take about an hour and a half to freeze solid.
Once your pops are frozen, you can remove the paper cup easily by holding the stick with one hand, and tearing the paper cup with the other hand.
Makes 16 (3-ounce) pops
If you are wondering why I used kombucha, well…I was out of lemons, and I wanted to play up the tangy flavor of the yogurt a little bit. I always have kombucha on hand, and I like it slightly sour. Therefore, it was the perfect substitute for lemon juice. You can definitely use lemon juice here, or even leave it out completely. Also–If you don’t have vanilla beans on hand, you can sub in a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
The addition of gelatin ‘stabilizes’ frozen treats, and gives them a nice, creamy texture. If you want to keep your treats 100% vegetarian, you can leave it out. I have also read about using guar gum, xanthan gum, or soy lecithin for purposes such as this, but I have never experimented with them myself.