Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Pops

A few months back, I wrote a guest post on Advice for a Twenty Something about two kitchen tools no quarter-century cook should be without. Guidance still standing, I want to amend the list to add one more essential gadget for the warm weather: popsicle molds, a must-have for these Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Pops.

You can buy fancy ice pops mold at Bed Bath and Beyond or Crate and Barrel, but there are plenty of home-made options that work just as well. Small paper cups with popsicle sticks, or ice-cube trays are perfectly adequate. (In fact, paper cups are a must for this recipe—see my note* below!)
A cold popsicle on a hot summer day is the definition of happiness. Don’t you have the fondest memories of being a little kid, licking and slurping and running around, a ring of syrupy color around your mouth flaunting the evidence?  Pure sugar, on a stick—sometimes with a joke at the end! It was heavenly; childhood at it’s best. Just thinking about it brings contentment.

But just as our palates have grown up, so too can our popsicles. There are so many different ways to create a more sophisticated rendering of the beloved frozen treat. Starting first and foremost with the responsible adult thing to do: cutting back on the sugar. With sugar, not fat, being blamed as the deadly villain in America’s obesity epidemic, the mounting evidence on the perils of added fructose is compelling to say the least.  In 1990, Americans consumed an average of 4 teaspoons of sugar a day—today, the average is 22! (The American Heart Association currently recommends 6 teaspoons a day for women, and 9 for men.)

So whether it’s adding alcohol over sugar to switch that cocktail to a “poptail”; flowers, lavender or elderberry fora floral flair, pairing fresh herbs with naturally sweet fruits, or a jolt of coffee or chai for an afternoon pick-me-up; there's a cornucopia of possibilities to flourish that frozen flavor—sans added sugar.
Even for the nostalgically special classics. This Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Pop brings it back to basics, channeling my inner child, lover of the fudgsicle. (Must! Have! Chocolate!) A more health-conscious, sugar-controlled version of the beloved traditional, this recipe uses frozen bananas to help create the appropriate texture without adding cals, and sugar is limited to what exists in the chocolate-hazelnut spread. (True to my eat-less-sugar credo, I am not using the words chocolate-hazelnut spread and Nutella interchangeably, as most of us associate automatically. This is because 2 tablespoons of Nutella contain 20g of sugar, while Justin’s all-natural, organic Chocolate Hazelnut Nut Butter only has 7g.) With only 4 ingredients total, this recipe provesthat less is more when it comes to producing the perfect popsicle.

So there you have it: a dairy-free, antioxidant-loaded, healthy-fat, potassium-full fudgsicle that produces the same blissful euphoria as that firecracker pop from when you were a kid. Happy licking!

*If at first you don't succeed...
This recipe took two tries to make. I failed the first time using plastic ice pop molds. I froze the pops overnight, and when I went to remove them from the molds...only the stick gave. In a frantic race against the clock, as the pops were rapidly melting, I used a spatula to remove the batter, but the result was not pretty. (I will spare you the photo of the failed pop, because it looks icky, and I don't want to ruin your appetite for these delicious frozen treats.)
I realized that chocolate-hazelnut butter does not freeze as solidly as water/fruit bases, and thus is not ideal for purchased molds, because it will not produce the right density to emerge in one piece. For these pops, the best way to go about them is to pack the batter tightly in bathroom-size paper cups, and peel the cup open after freezing. This way, the shape stays in tact because you are removing the mold from the pop, rather than removing the pop from the mold. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Pops (from Chocolate-Covered Katie)
Makes 6-7 paper cup mold fudgsicles

- 3 frozen bananas
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut butter (Justin's chocolate-hazelnut or chocolate-almond butter, Nutella, or homemade Nutella)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth in a food processor or blender. Divide evenly into mini paper cups, insert popsicle stick, and freeze overnight for fudgsicles. (Alternatively, eat immediately as ice-cream.)

Lustig, Robert H., MD. "What You Need to Know About Sugar." Time Ideas. Time, 27 Dec. 2012. Web. 14 May 2013.

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