En­joy Pale­tas

Ice pops for a re­fresh­ing, trendy treat

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FOOD - By Mary Or­lin South­ern Cal­i­for­nia News Group

When the tem­per­a­ture soars, we crave some­thing cool to beat the heat — and ev­ery cul­ture has its own take, whether it’s Ital­ian gelato, Ja­panese mochi or the Cal­i­for­nia ice pops that evoke care­free child­hood sum­mers. (Turns out Pop­si­cles ac­tu­ally orig­i­nated in Oak­land, Calif. Who knew?)

But col­or­ful ice pops of an­other sort have be­gun pop­ping up across the Bay Area, for ex­am­ple — and they’re only new to us. In Mex­ico, icy, creamy pale­tas have been sold from street carts and pale­te­rias for gen­er­a­tions. Leg­end has it that the frozen fruit pops date back to the Aztec em­per­ors — per­haps. Ev­i­dence is scant. But we do know that the first ma­jor pale­te­rias sprang up in the town of Tocumbo in Mi­choa­can and then in Mex­ti­cacán in Jalisco, where paleta stat­ues and fes­ti­vals in each town el­e­vate the ice pop to cul­tural icon.

Pale­tas — the name comes from the Span­ish word palo, which means stick or shovel — come in a rain­bow of colors and fla­vors, from sweet and fruity to spicy and tangy. Pale­tas de agua are water or juice-based; pale­tas de crema are more like ice cream. And both va­ri­eties are stud­ded with ev­ery­thing from fresh fruit chunks to spices, chiles, candy and even cook­ies, in com­bi­na­tions such as mango and chile pep­pers or tart tamarind and ji­cama.

At the new Luna Mex­i­can Kitchen in San José, Calif., restau­rant co-owner Jo Ler­maLopez and chef Julio Juarez blend up icy paleta com­bi­na­tions made with or­ganic ingredients. You can try a creamy tamarind ver­sion, a ji­cama-rasp­berry riff or a spicy mang­o­nada, which com­bines mango and pineap­ple with

a house­made chamoy sauce, made with pasilla chiles that bring the heat. Or go boozy with an adults-only paleta made with wa­ter­melon and smoky mez­cal to bal­ance the sweet­ness.

“Pale­tas are some­thing new, some­thing dif­fer­ent” for Cal­i­for­ni­ans, says Juarez, who grew up in More­lia, Mex­ico, and fondly re­calls icy treats fla­vored with pineap­ple, mango, sweet ar­roz con leche and tamarind. His un­cle still owns a pale­te­ria in the Mi­choa­can state.

“Pale­tas are just fun,” Lerma-Lopez says, “and the fla­vor pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.”

At San Fran­cisco’s Nopal­ito, chef Gon­zalo Guz­man dab­bles in paleta creativ­ity as well, with a cafe con leche ver­sion, as well as a mango con chile. And now you can make them at home, too, thanks to his new cook­book, “Nopal­ito: A Mex­i­can Kitchen” (Ten Speed Press, 256 pages, $30), which in­cludes five paleta recipes.

All you need is an ice pop mold and some sticks.

Recipes Nopal­ito’s Pale­tas de Cafe con Leche

Makes 12 ice pops


¾ cup cof­fee beans, coarsely ground 2 cups water

2 medium (8-ounce) cones pi­l­on­cillo (un­re­fined cane sugar) or 1 cup brown sugar 2 cups heavy cream


In a medium pot, com­bine the cof­fee, 2 cups water and the pi­l­on­cillo (or brown sugar). Bring to a boil, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, then re­move from the heat and let steep for 10 min­utes, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally to help the sugar dis­solve. Strain the mix­ture through a chi­nois or very fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Stir in the cream and let cool com­pletely. Pour the mix­ture into 12 3-ounce paleta or pop­si­cle molds, be­ing sure to set the sticks while the mix­ture is still liq­uid. Freeze un­til firm, 6 to 8 hours. Un­mold to serve. (Run the molds briefly un­der hot water if they don’t im­me­di­ately pop out.) — From “Nopal­ito: A Mex­i­can Kitchen” by Gon­zalo Guz­man and Stacy Adi­mando, Ten Speed Press, 2017

Nopal­ito’s Pale­tas de Fre­sas

Makes 10 ice pops


4 cups straw­ber­ries, stemmed ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from ½ orange) ½ cup agave nectar

¼ cup water Zest of ½ lime 1⁄8 tea­spoon kosher salt


In a blender, com­bine the straw­ber­ries, orange juice, agave nectar, water, lime zest and salt; blend well un­til smooth. Pour the mix­ture into 10

3-ounce paleta or pop­si­cle molds, be­ing sure to set the sticks while the mix­ture is still liq­uid. Freeze un­til firm, 6 to 8 hours. (If nec­es­sary to help ex­tract the pale­tas, run the molds briefly un­der hot water.) — From “Nopal­ito: A Mex­i­can Kitchen” by Gon­zalo Guz­man and Stacy Adi­mando, Ten Speed Press, 2017


Straw­berry, creamy al­mond and black­berry choco­late pale­tas.


Fruity pale­tas are pho­tographed at the Luna Mex­i­can Kitchen in San Jose, Cal­i­for­nia. From left, clock­wise is tamarindo, ji­cama rasp­berry, ji­cama rasp­berry mez­cal, and mang­o­nada.


Jo Lerma-Lopez, co-owner of San Jose’s Luna Mex­i­can Kitchen, of­fers adults-only ice pops — mez­cal wa­ter­melon pale­tas — as well as kid-friendly ver­sions.


Mez­cal bal­ances the sweet­ness of wa­ter­melon in the adults-only pale­tas served at San Jose’s Luna Mex­i­can Kitchen.


Mango and pineap­ple meets spicy chamoy sauce in this pop­u­lar mang­o­nada paleta served at Luna Mex­i­can Kitchen.

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