Having conquered traditional ice pops with Charity Ferreira’s Perfect Pops, today we shall look specifically at the Mexican ice pop, otherwise known as the paleta. Fany Gerson, the owner of La Newyorkina, has just released a cookbook of her own celebrating the genre — Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas. If you’re searching for cold treats from south of the border, this is the book for you.
This is the follow-up to Gerson’s debut book on Mexican desserts, My Sweet Mexico, a thoroughly researched and extensive compilation of anything sugary from Mexico. The book begins with a nice introduction to Mexican desserts of the frozen variety, and also provides a glimpse into Mexican daily life, as Gerson explains how the agua frescas consumed in her house at lunchtime were the result of having to use up excess fruit before it went bad. She also goes into detail about how she was inspired to create La Newyorkina because she was dismayed at the lack of variety and fresh-fruit-based ice pops when she moved to New York. Her passion for the product comes through in a way that is often missing in cookbooks, and particularly in ones about frozen desserts.
The offerings are divided among paletas (ice pops), raspados (shaved ices), and aguas frescas (refreshing drinks). While some of the ice-pop flavors are classics and found in multiple sources (spicy pineapple, strawberry), the majority come in intriguing — yet still accessible — flavors like Mezcal-orange, apricot-chamomile, and Mexican eggnog. Raspados run the gamut from tamarind shaved ice to beer with chile granita.
The recipes are slightly more complicated than the throw-some-juice-in-the-popsicle-mold variety, and a few require stove-top cooking. While the paletas are all pretty standard, several of the raposado and agua frescas recipes also require Latin ingredients (chamoy, queso fresco, piloncillo, pinole, or chia seeds) that might be difficult to find outside of New York City. But that just provides an excuse to seek out these new ingredients!
Paletas is a worthwhile purchase for the frozen-treats lover or anyone interested in Mexico’s culinary history. And, of course, anyone who can’t make it to the Hester Street Fair to sample La Newyorkina in the flesh.