Dark Chocolate Mocha Fudgsicle Pops

There was a period in my life when I ate a LOT of Fudgesicles. It started my senior year of college after I got back from Italy, got my own apartment, and discovered the many joys of online grocery shopping.

It was August, which is a most unpleasant month to be in Washington, so I was often filling up my online shopping cart with treats I could rely on to stay cool. Ice cream, bottles of homemade-style limeade, and all kinds of -sicles, which I started substituting for breakfast on my walks to work or class or wherever I was headed during that sticky, humid summer.

The Fudgsicles were filling and kept me cool, which made up for the the inevitable hoots and hollers (or should I say "hollas") brought upon by the Freudian implications of my chosen breakfast treat.

After a few years, a few moves, and the desire to eliminate Franken-ingredients from my diet, I stopped buying them, opting for homemade ice creams or artisan gelatos to sate my cravings. But a few days ago, as the summer temperatures started to rise, I suddenly got the urge to bite into that unique combination of fudgey, icey, chocolateyness. (All words. Promise.)

So I got to work making my own version of homemade Fudgesicles, using a dark chocolate cornstarch-based pudding as the base, and kicking up the darkness of the chocolate with some freshly brewed espresso. I used a combination of both good unsweetened cocoa powder + semisweet chocolate chips for a rich, not too sweet chocolate flavor.

The espresso blended well with this combo and I deepened the flavor even further by using turbinado sugar, which added just a hint of molasses to the mix. The result is a dark and creamy mocha fudge pudding pop; a grown-up version of the classic treat, just perfect for the sticky days of summer.

I used little baking cups as a mold for most of my pops, but I also got the idea to try making little one-bite pops using the flexible silicone star ice cube tray I bought at the Wilton tent sale last month.  This mold, which I purchased on a whim in the flurry of tent sale shopping, has proven to be one of my favorites. It's great for making star-shaped ice cubes, but I think it's even better for making truffles and candy and tiny fudge pops. These things are adorable and they're fun to keep in the freezer to satisfy quick cravings. I really recommend it!

I admit that since making these, I've gone back to enjoying the occasional fudge pop for breakfast. It's basically just a cup of coffee...right?

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Dark Chocolate Mocha Fudge Pops
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2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar (I used turbinado sugar, aka "Sugar in the Raw"; you can also use regular granulated sugar, but I love the extra touch of molasses in the raw sugar.)
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (you can also use chocolate chips)
1/2 cup freshly brewed and chilled espresso
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine milk, sugar, salt, cocoa powder, and chopped chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking gently until all sugar is dissolved, cocoa is incorporated evenly, and chocolate is melted. Continue to stir just until it hits a simmer and keep stirring until very smooth and even.

In a separate container, whisk together the cornstarch and chilled espresso until smooth to create a slurry. Pour into the chocolate milk mixture and keep whisking until the mixture starts to thicken. Continue to cook on very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring continuously.

Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract, let cool at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, then transfer pudding to your pudding molds (Popsicle molds, Dixie cubs, flexible ice cube trays, etc.) and freeze for at least 3 hours before unfolding and serving (for hard molds, dip the bottom of the tray in hot water for 20-30 seconds to release).

Will keep well in the freezer for about 1 week.

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