One of my earliest memories is eating a coconut popsicle. A creamy white pop with little bits of shredded coconut sprinkled throughout. I don’t remember where I was, or who I was with, specifically. And maybe the memory is actually a blur of many popsicles, the result of countless visits to roaming trucks and Central Park kiosks, but I can close my eyes and see my fingers ripping through the flimsy plastic. I know I was three or four, and the moment I unwrapped the pop, it began melting down the stick in the hot Manhattan sun, cream getting dangerously close to my fingers. I’ve had many a coconut “froz fruit” since those first few, and this happens every time. I’m a little more okay with the meltdown now, (I’m fairly sure I was the only kid to really really really hate being sticky) and every time I pass a truck it takes everything in my power not to buy three.
In celebration of summer and Billy’s #popsicleweek (!!) I felt it was high time to take a whack at these in my own kitchen.
All I hoped to achieve with my own version of this popsicle was that slightly chewy consistency that comes from all pre-packaged ice cream truck confections. Let it be known I’m not talking about that taffy-like quality that New England-style ice cream does so well (shoutout to Herrell’s in Northampton, which supplied me with my delightfully chewy birthday ice cream sundaes and homemade chocolate whipped cream from 2011-2015). No, I’m talking about the kind of icy texture that comes only as a result of bumping around in the back of a Mister Softee freezer for months at a time, temperature going up and down by day, even by hour. The treats start to melt, then freeze back up, then melt again. Once they’re unwrapped and bitten, it’s clear the contents aren’t a solid mixture, but a hundred million coconut-flavored snowflakes.
It’s impossible to create the real thing, but I’ve come pretty close. I added a hit of vanilla, which is technically not part of the classic pop, but I think it added a little something special. The recipe is wildly simple too, for more time eating popsicles and less time debating whether this was worth it, and if you should’ve just walked outside to a truck.
A note on the sweetener for this recipe: Anything will do, it simply depends on your preference. If you want to notice the flavor, use honey or maple syrup; if you don’t, use powdered sugar. Completely your call. As for the chocolate, I personally prefer dark chocolate in general, but I’ve found that semisweet makes for that classic, barely cloying magic shell-type coating, which is actually kinda great. Again, the choice is yours.
There can never truly be enough popsicles, so do yourself a favor and head over to the #popsicleweek homepage on Wit & Vinegar for about a million more wildly creative and delicious-sounding frozen treats.
Vanilla Coconut Popsicles
1 (13.5 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
±2 tablespoons desired liquid sweetener (honey, syrup, coconut nectar, etc.) OR 1/4 cup powdered sugar (see note above)
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
2-6 ounces 80% dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped (you’ll need more for dipping, less for drizzle)
1 teaspoon coconut oil
flakey sea salt
Place all ingredients in the first list except shredded coconut in a blender and blitz for 25-40 seconds, or until well mixed. Add shredded coconut and blend for a few seconds just to incorporate. Pour mixture into a prepared popsicle mold. Freeze for about 4 hours.
If you’re interested in doing a chocolate dip or drizzle: Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler, then remove from the heat. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. If dipping: Pour the chocolate into a tall heat-proof jar. Un-mold the pops one at a time, dip, let excess chocolate drip off, then place the pops on the baking sheet and return to the freezer for a few minutes. If drizzling: Working quickly, un-mold all the pops and place then on the baking sheet. Drizzle the chocolate on with a spoon, then return to the freezer for a few minutes.