Tag Archives: dessert

Way Back

Standard

Does anyone else out there remember pudding pops? On a recent trip to the grocery store I had a sudden want for them (I’ve been on a big frozen dessert kick lately with the uptick in the mercury) and in wandering the frozen food aisle was bereft to find they didn’t have any. And when I asked the kid who was stocking the cases if they still carried them, he questioned what they were, and asked if I maybe meant fudgesicles? Obviously they’ve been gone of the shelves longer than I thought, and I suddenly felt like I was eleventy-billion years old. I wanted to ask this whippersnapper if he knew what a VHS tape was and if he’e ever heard of a man named Bill Cosby, but resisted the urge to completely embarrass myself and wheeled my cart away in shame.

After traveling through the meat counter, the deli and the produce department, I had an idea. Looking at the strawberries in my hand, I decided to try to make myself some pudding pops. Even if they weren’t the same silky consistency, they would probably be pretty damn good. I wandered to the baking aisle.

I never realized there were so  many flavors of pudding, I’m such a chocolate pudding kid that I never even thought that they made flavors other than that and vanilla. There was butterscotch, caramel, pistachio (in a very fetching shade of mint green, might I add), chocolate, milk chocolate, Oreo cookie and cream, vanilla, french vanilla, banana, and the one I settled on: cheesecake. I came up with a cold dozen different combinations of pudding and adjuncts with which to make pops; I told myself I was pudding-blind and to put back the butterscotch, with a silent promise to make the banana-butterscotch pops dancing in my head the next time if the first batch came out edible.

Back at the ranch, I rinsed and dried some strawberries and whizzed together my pudding and milk. I stirred in a little bit of vanilla extract to give it a more homemade flavor, though who was I kidding; I bought the fat-free sugar-free mix and there’s no real way the pudding was going to taste homemade. I know I crow a lot about only eating things that a 5 year old can pronounce and that processed food is the downfall of society. But sometimes a girl needs a mouthful of junk. And fewer calories and fat. And besides, I added strawberries, that had to health it up at least a little bit.

With the strawberries sliced and gently folded into my pudding, I filled up the ice pop molds, which was not as easy as it sounded. I left the strawberries in big chunks and my molds are the skinny, flat variety, so it took some finagling. Next time I’m going to mix up the pudding in a zip top bag and cut off a corner of it to faux-pipe the mixture into the molds. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I need to keep more of the pudding off the counter next time. I’m sure Bill Cosby never had this problem way back when.

If you venture out into making these, be sure to give the molds a couple of good smacks on the counter after filling, to force the air bubbles to the top. Don’t worry about splashing, the pudding is fairly set up. Total cost for 10 pops was less than $2, and each pop is less than 40 calories according to some quick math. Wallet and waistline friendly!

Strawberry Cheesecake Pudding Pops
Makes 10 in my ice pop molds, will vary with mold size

1 package instant Cheesecake flavored pudding (I used sugar-free fat-free)
2 cups cold milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 graham cracker, crushed

In a mixing bowl (or a zip top plastic bag), combine the milk, pudding and vanilla, and prepare according to package directions. Gently fold in the strawberries, and fill clean ice pop molds with the mixture, leaving a bit of room at the top for expansion (less than 1/4″ headspace). Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs, insert popsicle sticks, and freeze until firm (1-2 hours).

Taking it Back: A Pan of Brownies

Standard

Confession: while many things are made from scratch in this house, brownies are generally not one of them. I am a huge fan of boxed mixes that I gussy up to be something entirely unlike your usual brownies. And a plate of really tasty brownies are a quick and easy thing that can be made to take to a barbecue or potluck when you’re headed to one, or when you have folks in for dinner, they make a great dessert when gently warmed and served with a scoop of ice cream***.

One of my mom’s favorite brownie mix tricks is to glug in a good sized wave of chocolate syrup, of the Hershey’s persuasion. A ‘glug’ would equal about 1/4 of a cup, I think. Mom, if you’re reading, does that sound about right? It adds extra richness and gooeyness, and I am a gooey brownie girl, not a cakey brownie girl. Anything I can do to make them chewier I’ll do, including undercooking them just slightly.

You can add chopped nuts, and not just walnuts ~ toasted pecans, peanuts, cashews, go crazy. Sprinkle them on top, or stir them in. Coarsely chop them so they are big chunks, or really mill them down so they aren’t as prominent, your choice. As we’ve talked about before, though, I am not a nut fan in my baked goods and thusly leave them out (unless I’m trying to stay away from them, in which case I’ll add extra and stir them in so I won’t touch them).

With the trendy advent of adding chiles to chocolate in the last few years, I made a pan of brownies over super bowl weekend that was a stunner. I realized that my buffet had nary a sweet bit on it, and when you’re having a chili bar you have to have something to cut all of the savory. They were a huge hit and something I made up on the fly ~ I was praying that they’d taste as good as they did in my head when I was adding in my adjuncts.

I mention below that you can use a gluten-free brownie mix with great success (and they are so, so good as a GF treat). Be sure, though, that you check your syrup and cherries to be sure that they are completely gluten-free and processed in a plant with good practices. I know that my GF friends are rolling their collective eyes at me for such a basic aside, but for those of you preparing these treats for someone with celiac disease, this can be a crucial note.

Cherry Chipotle Brownies
Makes a 13 x 9″ pan*

1 Family Sized brownie mix (denoted on the box, Pillsbury makes a good one but use whichever you’d like, even a gluten-free one)
1 1/4 t. chipotle powder
1/4 c. chocolate syrup (optional)
1 1/2 c. dried cherries (these are my favorite)
1 c. chocolate chips (optional)**

Preheat oven to 325/350*F as denoted on the box (this will depend on the color of your pan, I use my trusty Pyrex so 350*F for me). Prepare your pan with cooking spray or butter as directed on the box.

Stir the chipotle powder into the brownie mix in a large bowl, and proceed with preparation as outlined on the box, adding in the optional chocolate chips, if you’re using them. Fold in the cherries and optional chocolate chips right at the end.

Spread the brownie mix into the prepared pan, and bake for 28-31 minutes as the box designates.

*To make a smaller mix in a 9 x 9″ pan, purchase your favorite brownie mix, adding in 3/4 t. of chipotle powder and 1 cup of dried cherries, proceeding as outlined above with the package directions.

**Instead of stirring in your chocolate chips, you can sprinkle them on the top of your still-hot but fully-baked brownies, return them to the oven for a second, and then spread the melted chocolate chips on the top, making a chocolate glaze.

***About that ice cream! These brownies make a killer sundae when paired with a big scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream. You’re welcome!