The weather this week has been marvelous. In fact, this entire spring has been marvelous so far. Not only did we get to experience the rare treat known as a sunny Easter weekend, but this week alone has boasted three gloriously warm and sunny days wherein we actually got to eat our dinner outside. Not wearing coats. I know, right? Due to the consistently gray and sorrowful weather we in the Pacific Northwest put up with most of the year, the early appearance of sunlight and warmth tends to excite us more than most people in other parts of the country are able to understand. As soon as we’re gifted a few spring days with no rain, we put away our winter boots. When the clouds part and the sun emerges, we ditch our coats. And when the temperature spikes above 70 degrees? Forget about it. It’s t-shirts, sundresses, picnics, and cold treats all day long.
Naturally, due to our current spell of 70-plus degree days, it seemed like a good time to make some homemade popsicles. To up the ante, since it seems a little like cheating to claim that you’ve “made” homemade popsicles when, in reality, all you’ve done is pour a bit of juice into some popsicle molds and then waited for the freezer to work its magic, I set aside regular popsicle making in favor of something a bit more special: fudge popsicles.
It’s actually rather puzzling to me that I initially chose to make fudge popsicles in lieu of fruit popsicles, since I don’t really care for fudge, but I can’t think of any scenario wherein I would turn down an invitation to eat some fruit. But, really, a fudge popsicle (or fudgesicle) is a closer relative to ice cream than proper fudge, and lord knows there is pretty much no situation during which I would turn down an offer to eat some ice cream. These fudge pops offer a nice in between, for those of you who are fans of both ice cream and simpler popsicles. While not as rich as chocolate ice cream, there is certainly more going on here than what one finds in a standard popsicle. Creamy and rich, yet also light and refreshing, I think I have found my new favorite warm weather treat.
Last Year: Two of my favorites, Lemon, Almond, and Cornmeal Cake and How to Make Homemade Crunchy Herb and Chèvre Croutons
Homemade Fudge Pops (Fudgesicles)
Adapted from On a Stick, by Matt Armendariz
Using the best semi-sweet dark chocolate you can find definitely makes a difference (I used 54% Belgian chocolate with a nice smoky aftertaste).
2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) chopped semi-sweet dark chocolate
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups milk (I used 1%, and I suspect that a heavier fat milk, or even a mix of milk and heavy cream, would be great here as well)
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan set over very low heat, gently melt the chopped chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, milk and salt. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon or spatula (my mixture took about 5 minutes to thicken up nicely).
Remove from heat, add vanilla, and stir gently until combined.
Set aside to cool slightly (the mixture will thicken even more as it cools) then pour into popsicle molds of your choosing. Freeze for at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight in order to obtain the best texture.
Note: After a bit of trial and error, I have found that the best way to release these things from their molds is to run the popsicle molds under a bit of warm water, then gently wiggle the fudge pops free. Trying to pull them out without first warming the molds will result in you most likely just yanking the handles free from the fudge pops themselves, which is just sad.