Did your mother use to make you ‘homemade’ popsicles in the summertime as a child? Mine did, and if you’re a child of the ’80s like me, we are probably now picturing the exact same thing. There were only two varieties; either frozen apple juice pops (likely from concentrate) or frozen orange juice pops. Right? Don’t get me wrong, I loved them as a kid, so they will forever have a place in my heart, but these bad boys are not that.
Paletas, meaning ‘little shovel’ because of their shape, come from Mexico. In recent years they have become increasingly popular in areas of the US, like Los Angeles, that have a large influence from the Chicano/Chicana culture, and the trend continues to grow. Paletas are similar to a popsicle or ice lolly and typically come in two different varieties, each with an endless list of flavours. Paletas de agua (water) are made from fruits and their juices. Paletas de leche (milk), are made from creamier ingredients, from arroz con leche to hazelnut to horchata and beyond.
Imagine ice chests and freezers outside little shops stacked with varieties of these, made from pronounceable ingredients. Yes, they have sugar, but the flavours are made from the things themselves rather than flavourings produced in factories. We are so used to seeing chemicals relabeled as ‘ice creams’ from big brands here in the UK. (Next time you’re buying one of those tempting little guys on a stick, check the ingredients to see if what’s actually inside is what you associate with ice cream.)
I got tired of imagining, so I made some.
Mango is one of my family’s favourite fruits. It’s meaty and sweet but also has this undescribably funky-yet-satisfying undertone that balances out the sweet just right. ‘Mango-flavoured’ things however, never quite capture the funky depth of flavour, and most often leave me wanting. This little guy is the real thing, buttery rich funk and all. I find the earthiness and slight tongue tingle from the chiles enhances both the flavour of the mango as well as its silky texture. I honestly couldn’t have been happier with the final outcome.
Real ingredients. Satisfying flavours for a grown-up palate that doesn’t just mean boozy (I prefer to drink my alcohol rather than eat it…). What more reason do you need to make yourself your very own paletta? Let’s do this.
Mango and Chile Paletas
3 ripe mangos, peeled and de-pitted
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
250ml or 1 cup water
juice of 1 lime
78g or 1/3 cup golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon acho chile powder
1 teaspoon tajin classico (I am obsessed with this stuff! You can buy yours here)
8-10 Ice lolly/popsicle moulds of your choice (I used these and love them)
In a blender combine your 3 peeled and de-seeded mango pieces (this just means you don’t have to bother dicing them – any shape will do), lime juice, sugar and water. Blend until smooth.
In a small bowl add your diced mango and sprinkle both kinds of chile powder over the top, mixing it in with either a spoon or your fingers.
Divide your diced mango pieces up amongst however many popsicle/lolly moulds you are using, before slowly pouring the blended mango and lime juice over the top. Take care to make sure the juice is seeping all the way down into the bottom of the mould. You can use your popsicle stick to carefully push the mango pieces around to make sure this happens.
Freeze for a minimum of 3 hours, ideally overnight. Feel free to sprinkle more Tajin powder over the top before serving. The stuff is basically bottled magic.