These ice pops are chocolaty, creamy, and a little spicy, with a hint of cinnamon. The Mexican sugar adds nuance to the sweetness, and the whole thing makes for a frozen treat that is ready to party with the grownups, or just hang in the backyard. Read the notes at the bottom for ingredient details.
Makes about 8 ice pops
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups whole milk
1 cup light cream
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces (see notes)
3 Tablespoons Mexican Sweet Blend (or make your own, see notes)
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (see notes)
Pinch of salt
1. Whisk the cocoa powder with 2 Tablespoons water in a small saucepan until well combined. Turn the heat on to medium and whisk as the mixture just begins to simmer, only a few minutes. Add the milk and cream and whisk until everything is well combined.
2. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the rest of the ingredients. Whisk often as the mixture warms and the chocolate and sugars fully melt, about 5-10 minutes. Whenever you're not whisking, cover the pan with the lid askew to prevent a skin from forming. The mixture should become hot, but not boil, so adjust the heat as needed.
3. Taste and add another pinch of salt if still needed. (The mixture shouldn't taste salty; the salt is here to sharpen all the other flavors and bring them into balance. If the flavor seems a bit muted, you probably need a tad more salt.)
4. Cool to room temperature while covered, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Then transfer into ice pop molds and freeze until solid, about 4-6 hours.
These ice pops basically start out as hot chocolate, but with extra creaminess and amped-up flavors.
First, the creaminess: A chocolate ice pop should be cold and creamy, not icy. When you bite into it, you shouldn't get a mouthful of chocolate-flavored ice crystals. You should get cold, melty, flavorful chocolate. To achieve this, I subbed a cup of light cream for one cup of the milk, and used a combination of solid chocolate and cocoa powder.
And now, a fun fact about those amped-up flavors: When food is cold, flavors are naturally muted (for reasons having to do with physics and the anatomy of your palate). So, it's important to use a somewhat heavier hand when seasoning a recipe that is intended to be eaten cold, like this one. If you were to drink this as hot chocolate rather than freezing it, it honestly might be a bit much. I included more of everything in the initial stage to be sure all those great flavors would still be there, standing at attention, after their tour of duty in the freezer. (You're welcome!)
It's best to use an actual broken-up chocolate bar, rather than chocolate chips, for a recipe like this. Chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape rather than melting, so they contain less cocoa butter and are sometimes coated with something to raise the melting point. Remember all that creamy, flavorful, chocolaty goodness we're going for here? You want to use the good chocolate. (I used Guittard's semisweet 67% cacao chocolate.)
The recipe calls for Mexican Sweet Blend, which is a blend of Mexican piloncillo sugar and canela (cinnamon) that I created to evoke a classic Mexican flavor combination. Piloncillo is a very specific Mexican kind of brown sugar with a lot of fruity complexity that our standard American brown sugar doesn't have. Canela is Ceylon cinnamon, which has a different flavor profile than the cassia cinnamon we generally have access to in the US.
If you substitute standard American brown sugar (or light brown sugar) and cinnamon, you may not need the additional Tablespoon of white sugar (because the Mexican piloncillo is more flavorful sugar, it can register as less sweet on the palate). So bottom line, taste as you go.
Aleppo pepper is a mild chile originally grown in Syria (thus the name). It's got a nice, slightly smoky flavor and a mild spiciness, so it's perfect in something like this, and would pair perfectly with any kind of backyard barbecue menu. You could also use guajillo chile, or possibly ancho. I didn't test these, but they're both mild Mexican chiles and I'm sure they would work nicely here. Ancho may be a tad bit spicier than Aleppo, so you may want to start with less if using that and taste as you go.
A sweet blend of Mexican flavors: piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) and canela (Mexican cinnamon). Delicious sprinkled over mangoes, as a topping for sugar cookies, stirred into hot chocolate or coffee, or baked into cakes or pies. Use it anywhere you would use cinnamon-sugar!
Originally from Aleppo, Syria, this pepper is now being grown in neighboring Turkey. Mildly spicy, it’s like a cross between ancho chile and red bell peppers. Addictively good on veggies of all kinds, as well as grilled meats, fish and more.