Paletas

It’s a stinking hot summers day, you’re not moving anywhere for anybody, you’re staging a sit in in the hammock, who needs the beach. Luckily you had dregs in the vodka bottle, a spare punnet of strawberries, a lonely chilli and an old tin of mangoes to whip yourself up some refreshing treats yesterday in anticipation of today’s backyard holiday.

Essentially a Mexican term for an ice block, paletas fall into roughly two camps; the dairy
and the fruit based. Chilli is often found in the fruity concoctions, but so too is sour tamarind, and you might find fresh corn in a sweet milk based pop, rice pudding with cinnamon, cooling cucumber and the like. The three versions here are simple, but are easily adaptable to other fruit. Plums, apricots and peaches are best cooked gently before using, while watermelon, pineapple, avocado and berries such as raspberries are delicious used fresh.

paleta-2

Strawberry ‘jam’ and milk paleta makes approx 8 x 75ml ice blocks

2 punnets strawberries (approx 500g) hulled and quartered
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup full cream milk (or for an even more extravagant concoction try half and half) 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

Put the strawberries in a small pan with the sugar and leave for 30 mins to an hour until they release their juices. Add the water and bring up to the boil, simmer for 4 minutes, then remove from the heat, puree with a blender and allow to cool.
Meanwhile mix the milk with the sweetened condensed milk and set aside.
Put a little strawberry mix in each ice block mold, add some milk, then repeat until used up (to set into distinct layers, put in the first layer of strawberry, set in the freezer, then add the milk, and repeat). Put into freezer for at least 4­6 hours or until set. Remove from molds by running under hot water.

paleta-3

Strawberry and Vodka paleta makes approx 8 x 75ml ice blocks

1/4 cup caster sugar plus 2 tablespoons extra 1/2 cup water
1 punnet strawberries, hulled and quartered 1 lemon, grated zest and juice
3 tablespoons vodka, gin, or white rum

Put the first measure of sugar in a small pot with the water. Bring up to the boil to dissolve the sugar, then set aside to cool.

Meanwhile put the strawberries and remaining sugar in a bowl and leave for 30 minutes to an hour to release juices.

Mix together the sugar syrup, strawberries, lemon zest and juice and the vodka. Blitz with a blender. Adjust flavours to taste (freezing will dull the flavours).
Pour into ice block holds then put into freezer for at least 4­6 hours or until set.
Remove from molds by running under hot water.

paleta-1

Mango and chilli paleta
makes approx 8 x 75ml ice blocks

1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
pinch chilli flakes
2 mangoes (or use 2 x tins mangoes in light syrup, see below for method) 1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
juice of 1 ­ 2 lemons

Put the sugar, water and chilli flakes in a small pot. Bring up to the boil to dissolve the sugar, then set aside to cool.

Peel the mangoes, add the flesh of one to the sugar syrup and blitz with a blender. Dice the flesh of the remaining mango and put into the mix, along with the fresh chilli and the lemon juice.

Pour half the mix into the molds and put into the fridge for an hour until beginning to set. Add the remaining mix (this ensures that all the fruit pieces won’t sink to the bottom), top with sticks and freeze for at least 4 hours to set. Remove from molds by running under hot water.

If using tinned mangoes, drain, but reserve 1/2 cup of the syrup. Bring it up to the boil with the chilli flakes, then allow to cool. Proceed as for recipe using fresh mangoes.

photography: Aaron McLean