Spring is slowly turning into summer here in Brooklyn, and as the temperatures rise each year I find myself turning to my freezer for comfort. Like Opening day or the first backyard beer after a long winter, there's so much hope in that harbinger of summer that is the popsicle. There's a distinct feeling of release when I pull off the wrapper from that first bodega froze fruit of the season, my shoulders relax as if in acknowledgment, ahhh we've made it through another winter.
Popsicles, of course, evoke memories of youthful summers spent barefoot on front lawns, playing outside until the streetlights came on. Long days in the pool, swimming to the point of a pleasurable exhaustion. They remind me of that distinct tightness that chlorine gives skin, sitting on the edge of the pool wrapped in a towel, mouth stained from the Welches strawberry popsicles my mom would buy us. They remind me of the salt that coats newly sun kissed shoulders after a day of sweating in the sun. They're a perfect, ephemeral, mostly guilt free indulgence that offers reprieve from the all consuming heat of a New York City summer.
But summer's heat encourages a slow, simple, laziness. I find myself turning to cool salads, cold noodles, whole fruit, and in general simply grazing from the fridge. If you're lucky enough to have outdoor space and a grill then everything is made even simpler. Most anything is improved when tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and thrown on the grill. My apartment is fortunately light filled, but in summer that means it's also basically a sauna and I'm hardly ever inclined to turn on my oven. I find myself almost always overheated, slightly dehydrated, in need of a cool shower and something thoroughly refreshing.
Another harbinger of warm, leisurely weather is iced coffee or tea. How many instagrams can we see of various iced drinks and bared ankles and sunglasses emojis? And yet, that feeling is no less palpable. While I happily drink cold brew all year long, I still rejoice in gloveless weather, in that first bit of condensation sweating from my glass. Last year I was inspired when, absentmindedly, I was having both a coconut popsicle and some iced coffee in the afternoon and decided to dip the popsicle into my coffee. The coffee immediately froze around the popsicle, creating a sort of cold brew sheath. It was absolutely delicious, and it got me thinking, why shouldn't the two simply be combined? The creamy sweetness of coconut against the bitter boldness of coffee seemed like a perfect pairing.
So that's exactly what I did, and after a little tinkering I couldn't believe how simple the process was. All you need are three ingredients and your desired popsicle mold! Unsweetened coconut milk is the perfect base because it has natural electrolytes and just the right amount of good fat to make it a substantial, healthy treat that won't leave you crashing from a sugar rush. I used maple syrup to sweeten my batch to taste, but you could swap in agave or a simple syrup. Instant coffee is perfect here because it is effortless, does not involved infusing the coconut milk (which of course you could do!), and dissolves nearly instantly.
Coffee Coconut Popsicles
- 1 12 oz can of Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- 2 Tablespoons instant espresso
- 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1. Empty the coconut milk into a bowl and whisk it vigorously to ensure there are no chunks of coconut cream (the white, fatty part which often separates from the coconut water inside the can).
2. Add in the instant coffee and again whisk vigorously. You can adjust how much you use to your preferred strength, but I found two tablespoons to be perfectly adequate.
3. Add in the maple syrup to taste and whisk again.
4. Taste test your mixture and make sure it is the balance of sweet/strong that you desire. Pour the mixture into your chosen popsicle mold and place in the freezer until fully set.
That's it! Enjoy!