Paleta – How to Beat the Heat in an Easy, Cheap, and Yummy Way

How about this heat, huh? I know the weather is a banal topic, but how can you help it? It’s just there, messing with your life and power bill.

Earlier in the summer, the heat was scorching. It was relentless and unforgiving. You felt it on your skin like a high-grade fever. These days, it’s humid. It’s wet and oppressive. The air is muggy and dense, like it could drown you. Life in the tropics, eh?

“What kind of heat are we experiencing today?”

“Oh, it’s balmy/sultry/arid/infernal… It’s the kind that renders you temporarily insane and drives you to go streaking up and down your street.”

To keep a grip on your faculties, you need a good offense. Air conditioning is an effective solution, but it’s not the cheapest or the most environmentally considerate option. Baths also work, but they get old after a while. Food, on the other hand, is usually gratifying.

Ice cream, halo-halo, frozen yogurt… These are all good choices, but you usually have to go to the store to get them. The halo-halo, for one, requires a slew of ingredients and quite an involved process to make. For an easy and cheap homemade cold treat, we’ve always turned to the paleta or popsicle.

My eldest child used to make ice pops by filling an ice cube tray with juice, covering it with cling wrap, and sticking a toothpick in the middle of each square. These days, we use actual paleta molds and fill them with more complicated concoctions.

Homemade paletas are not only easy and cheap, they are also a safer bet. If you’re particular about nutrition, you can be certain of what’s in your paleta. You don’t have to worry about chemical additives mixed in for longer shelf life and prettier colors.

When we’re choosing to make something healthy, we like freezing smoothies. Most of the time, however, it’s about the flavor. Watermelon and mint, mango and chilies, pineapple and lime… it’s really up to you (or your kids) to find a blend that works. Over here, the winning paleta flavor is peaches and cream.

I can’t share a precise recipe because I wing it a lot and eyeball the ingredients. Basically, I use canned peaches (fresh ones are rare here), all-purpose cream, sugar, and cinnamon. Lookit.

Oftentimes, we are disappointed to note that the freezer holds no yummy cold treat for us when all the while, we have ingredients to make awesome paletas. Molds are inexpensive, so it’s nothing to make that investment. Experimenting with different combinations is definitely creative fun you can have with your kids. Ultimately, you get a cold treat to help make this awful heat more bearable.

Homemade Chocsicles: Sweet Summer Treat

ChocsiclesI’m not a fan of heat. Between that and the cold, I’d choose the latter. I like the cold, in fact. All you have to do is layer clothes and get a cozy fire going. When it’s hot, you can only remove so many clothes before you’re in your birthday suit. Also, the cold clears up my allergies, which are at their worst in hot muggy weather, which we get about 80% of the year here in the Philippines. Sometimes I really wonder why I choose to stay in the tropics, but that discussion is for another post. In any case, most summer days, the heat here is so oppressive that it’s all you can do not to pick a fight with any unfortunate creature that crosses your path. Or maybe you’re one of those who revel in the tropical climate, in which case your disposition would probably be much sunnier than mine. Even if that’s the case, I bet you like to indulge in cold treats, such as ice cream or halo-halo. If you’re a little low on the budget, you could freeze juice in slender baggies and make ice candy. My daughter has her own version of this: juice pops. She pours a glassful into an ice cube tray, cover it with cling wrap, and then poke a toothpick in the center of each cube. I, on the other hand, prefer my summer treat to be creamier, which is why I end up making homemade chocsicles to beat the heat. They’re cheaper and less complicated to make than fudgsicles, but are chocolate-y enough and have a consistency that I like (for some reason, the usual ice candy hurts my tongue). Anyway, here’s the recipe that I follow for chocsicles; see if your taste buds will find them pleasing as well.

Homemade Chocsicles

3/4 C sugar
3 T flour
3 T baking cocoa
4 C milk
10 popsicle molds (or the equivalent)

*semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Mix sugar, flour, and cocoa in a saucepan.

Stir in milk about half cup at a time, until clumps are gone and dry ingredients are completely dissolved.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Let cool before pouring into molds.

Optional: Add chocolate chips as you pour the mixture into the molds.

Set holders in the center of each mold.

Freeze until solid.

Here's an early morning chocsicle. We made this batch the night before and she was excited to have some in the morning. After making short work of a sandwich, she finally got her treat.

Here’s an early morning chocsicle. We made this batch the night before and she was excited to have some in the morning. After making short work of a sandwich, she finally got her treat.

Again, this is a fun and easy kitchen activity to do with your kids. Do you have your own recipe for popsicles? We’ll share our favorite recipes for fruit paletas soon.

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