Juicy cherries, creamy coconut milk and a generous amount of vanilla come together to create a delicious frozen dessert that’s ideal for scorching days. These are not your regular pops loaded with refined sugar. Small amounts of honey and maple syrup give just the right amount of sweetness and pair well with both the fruit and the vanilla-bean-flecked coconut milk. The pops are quick and easy to put together, and it’s also fun to experiment with layering the ingredients to create different patterns. The only difficult part is waiting for them to freeze!
Coconut, Cherry and Vanilla Bean Ice Pops
Makes 10 to 12
The yield will vary depending on the what size ice-pop mold you use. For these, I used molds with 1/3-cup capacity, or about 3 ounces.
2 cups fresh sweet cherries, such as Bing, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 to 4 drops almond extract
2 cans full-fat coconut milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped pod reserved
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raw honey
Place cherries, maple syrup, cinnamon and almond extract in a small pot and bring up to a simmer over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until cherries are juicy and soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
In another small to medium pot, add coconut milk and vanilla bean pod and seeds. Bring to a simmer over high heat, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 5 minutes then whisk in vanilla extract and honey, pour into a pitcher or measuring jug, remove vanilla beans and set aside.
Place a strainer over the canister of an upright blender. Add cherries and press out juice. Add one-third of the cherries and 1 cup coconut vanilla bean mixture; blend until smooth. You should have about 2 cups. Place in the fridge.
Divide remaining coconut mixture among ice-pop molds and place in the freezer for about an hour or until semi-frozen. Remove from freezer and divide cherries among molds. Top with blended cherry coconut mixture, place lid on top, add sticks and freeze for at least 8 hours or until solid. To remove ice pops, dip molds in warm water for a few seconds and carefully pull on sticks to release.
Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.