Do you remember how magical it was to eat ice cream as a kid?
That sheer thrill of hearing the musical jingle of the ice cream cart or truck (depending where in the world you grew up), the anticipation of chasing after that cart until it came to a stop at the end of the street, the wonder of exchanging the weight of shiny, silver coins in your hand for a creamy, dreamy cone or popsicle. There wasn’t a better trade in the world.
I know many of you haven’t outgrown that excitement yet– I know for a fact that Desi hasn’t — but unfortunately, I did.
True story, I just don’t care for ice cream anymore. Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, buttercream, raspberry or even my favorite flavor in the world, mango. You can swirl it into a cone, scoop it into a tub or stick it on a stick, I am not eating. And it’s not because I don’t like sweet things (I do) and it’s not for the calories (heck, if I was that good about watching them, I’d be 20 pounds lighter). But somewhere on the road of adulthood, the magic of ice cream was lost to me forever. I was even completely untouched at the Ben and Jerry’s factory near Stowe, Vermont, when Desi and I stopped there on a drive back from Canada years ago. A tourist bus had just offloaded a large group of seniors and there was unbridled anticipation on every face — like for a few moments, faced with hot fudge sundaes and waffle cones piled high with three scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough, they were all just happy five year olds. I remember sitting there, feeling rather sad for that lost child in me.
So when summer rolled around this year, and Jay started to demand ice cream more often than the health-nut mom in me was comfortable with, I ran in my head through all the reasons I should say no — bad teeth, too much sugar, not eating dinner because I’m full, mom! All good reasons, but that inner child argued, just say YES!
So I did. Jay was going to eat all the ice cream he wanted this summer.
With one rider. I was going to make it. Well, most of it. That way, at least I’d have more control over what he’s putting into that little tummy.
All summer long, then, I’ve been churning out ice cream and, more often, popsicles. I cheat. I don’t load up on the artificial flavorings, the cream, all of that bright, white sugar, and the coloring that doubtlessly makes those store-bought brands so attractive to kids and adults. Instead, I stick to fruit purees for flavor, bananas or cashews or nut milks for creaminess, and a minimum of added natural sweeteners, like maple syrup. Sometimes, all I do is blitz up some yogurt and fruit and pour it into the popsicle molds. They usually disappear before I can share the recipes, which makes me think I must be doing something right.
These Pineapple Cheesecake Popsicles are certainly right. Jay loved them, and so did Desi. They are bright and refreshing with tropical flavors and they are fruity and creamy.
All you need to do is go into the kitchen and puree up some cashews, cream cheese and coconut milk with chunks of pineapple and a ripe, sweet banana.
Add a quarter cup of maple syrup, although you might just want to skip it because the fruit is so sweet already. Freeze.
Now awaken that child inside.
- 2 cups pineapple chunks thaw if frozen
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 cup cashews soaked in water for 30 minutes, then drained
- 8 oz vegan cream cheese
- 1 cup coconut milk the one in the carton, not can
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract optional
- Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blitz until you have a very smooth puree.
- Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for six to eight hours at least.
- Halfway through freezing, insert the popsicle sticks.