Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fudgesicles - Frozen Chocolate Treats for Summer

A couple of years ago, home made popsicles popped up on the foodie radar. The recipes I ran across were a far cry from the frozen Kool-Aid pops we made when I was a kid. Instead, a wide range of fruit, flavorings, and liquids were used to create frozen treats in all colors of the rainbow and with a variety of flavors and textures. The game was on in the SingleGrrl Kitchen.

I armed myself with a couple of mold trays from World Market and set about experimenting. Originally I got the standard 3-oz size, but this year I scored a mold of the 2-oz size at a summer clearance sale at JoAnn. The smaller 'sicles let you feel ever-so-slightly less guilty ...

The most successful of the bunch was a traditional fudgesicle.The marvelous Smitten Kitchen had adapted a recipe from the cookbook On a Stick. I tweaked it a little further and it's been a summer staple for me ever since. It's essentially a thin cornstarch pudding that is served frozen. My addition of just a touch of instant coffee powder is an old trick used in chocolate baked goods to enhance the chocolate flavor without adding a distinct taste of coffee. The texture is smooth and dense, but soft enough to bite, not icy and hard like some other popsicle recipes I tried. The chocolate flavor is deep but not bitter.  It's a very satisfying little treat for summer.


Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 6 regular (3 ounces) or 8 small (2 ounces) fudgesicles

3 tablespoons (1-1/4 ounce) semisweet or dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate*
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2-1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups whole milk
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp instant coffee or espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Gently melt the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, milk, and salt and increase heat to medium. Cook mixture until thickened: Whisk almost constantly, being sure to get into the corners of the saucepan, for about 10 minutes. When the mixture starts to bubble, it's done. Remove from heat and add instant coffee, vanilla, and butter. Whisk until butter is melted and thoroughly combined.

Set aside to cool slightly, whisking frequently to break up the skin that will form on top. Pour into popsicle molds. I like to pour the mixture into a glass measuring cup with a spout, and I usually use a funnel as well -- I'm not the most dextrous person in the kitchen. Be sure to leave a little room at the top of the mold - the stick will take up some volume, and the mixture will expand during freezing.

If using the stick/cap combo that comes with the molds, insert and freeze. If using free-standing popsicle sticks, freeze the mold for about 30 minutes, then insert the sticks and continue freezing. If you have some of the mixture left after filling the molds, pour it into a ramekin and freeze only partially for a spoonable little cook's treat.

To unmold, run the mold under hot water for just a minute until the fudgesicles release. You can remove all the fudgesicles at once; the ones that won't be eaten right away can be wrapped and returned to the freezer.

*I like dark chocolate in general, but for these I use chocolate that has no more than about 55% cacao. If you go darker, you may have to experiment with the sugar and milk content to get the right sweetness and consistency.

Variation Ideas

Add more coffee powder for mocha fudgesicles.

Experiment with complementary flavorings such as orange, mint, or almond, replacing half the vanilla.

Spice it up with cinnamon or cayenne.

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