I have an obsession with all things ice cream – gelato, sorbet, tartuffo, glace, granita, cassata, semifreddo, sherbet, tortoni , frozen yoghurt, parfait, sundae – you name it, if its frozen and sweet I’ve tried it. So how is it that paletas have only just very recently hit my radar?
How best to describe paletas? Artisan icy poles on a stick doesn’t quite cut it. All paletas are made from fresh seasonal fruit blended with sugar, sometimes milk and cream, and even fresh herbs and spices. No additives. No preservatives. Just beautiful, fresh, flavoursome produce blended together to produce the most scrummiest, yummiest ice confection. Their name paleta comes from palo, or “stick,” and the diminutive ending -eta, referencing the little flat wooden paddle pop stick frozen into each ice cream. The stores, carts, and kiosks where they are sold are known as paleterías, and the sellers are called paleteros.
I first stumbled across paletas on a list of hot new food trends for 2013, and I just knew I had to try them. Alas without an airline ticket to South or even North America that just wasn’t going to happen. I was just going to have to make them myself – source the very best recipe I could and take it from there. My virtual scavenger hunt led me to La Newyorkina, Fany Gerson and her superb paleta bible Paletas.
A quick detour to Amazon and I am good to go. Decisions. Decisions. Which flavours first? a quick trip to the greengrocer and I choose four – Strawberry, Raspberry, Banana and for good measure the quintessentially Mexican Rice Pudding. Fany Gerson’s recipes are delicious, inspiring and easy to follow. My first bite and I’m hooked. Heaven on a stick. I never want to consume an artificially flavoured commercial icy pole again. These luscious flavour bombs are amazing. I dream of all the endless possible flavour combinations, and all those lucky, lucky Mexican children who have grown up eating these treats.
Fortunately paletas are surprisingly easy to make and don’t require any fancy equipment. Let me tell you how.
My top 5 tips for perfect paletas
- Always use the freshest ingredients you can. Seasonal fruit is the most flavoursome and will make all the difference to the quality of your paleta
- The paletas need to be poured into a mould, and that mould must be capable of having a paddle pop stick inserted into it. There is a vast array of moulds out there, or you can always make your own using disposable cups or even shot glasses. It’s up to you, but for the record I used the Progressive brand Freezer Pop Moulds.
- When filling the mould remember that the paleta mixture will expand and you need to leave at least half a centimetre space from the top of the mould to allow for expansion
- To unmould your frozen paletas, dip the moulds in warm water for a couple of seconds.
- Store unmoulded paletas in your freezer for up to 6 weeks. Store in tupperware containers or ziplock sandwich bags using baking or greaseproof paper to separate the layers to avoid the paletas sticking together.
Here’s some paleta recipes to get you started: