For the first time in forever, I am thoroughly loving Summer. I am taking deep, appreciative breaths of the warm air, waking with a vigor and excitement that lasts through the ups and downs of the day, trying to avoid sunburns, and even daydreaming about dipping my toes into blue water on occasion.
I am mystified by this unfamiliar enthusiasm for warm weather, but rather than questioning it, I am drinking as much iced coffee and coconut cream as one lady can hold and trying to balance responsibility with spontaneity. That is very much a work in progress, but I am trying.
I carry around a big purse full of tiny notebooks that hold the endless ideas I’ve jotted down in moments of insane hunger (read: during church), but often those scribblings never evolve past their pen and ink state. I make my way to the market with every intention to make whatever my mind dreamed up over the weekend. I pick out my weekly bouquet of flowers, and then, in one swift change of mind, an entirely new idea captures my fickle mind and my grocery list is cast away with reckless abandonment.
Since this has become quite a pattern with me, I have often forgone the practice of list-making altogether, since they often become nothing but crumbled confetti in the depths of my purse. Last week, on one such list-less trip, I walked past these jars of shiny, candy-apple-red pie filling. Then, I took several steps back to examine.
I love Trader Joe’s. I do not need to be paid or sponsored or coerced in anyway to write that. I absolutely love that store. So, while I would never, ever, EVER buy pre-made pie filling, and while I have given my dear mother many a condescending stare upon seeing the cans on her shelves (my father adores it), I knew that this filling, was likely something special. Seemingly everything my good friend, Joe (you know, Trader Joe) puts his label on promises to please.
My faith was by no means unfounded, because this pie filling is truly excellent. Unlike the sickening sweet, bitter, and overabundant with gluey cornstarch, pie fillings of my youth, this filling is lightly sweetened, perfectly acidic and is full of natural cherry flavor.
Of course, I was not going to make a pie with pie filling, that would be atrociously predictable. I had something else in mind.
In fact, I have had that same something in mind ever since I bought this popsicle mold. Two popsicle recipes in a row might be too much, but then again, it might be just what we need.
Especially because these are extra pretty, Fourth of July-esc popsicles. It is true, there is no sign of blue in these treats, but if you paint your finger nails blue you can get the full Instagram-worthy experience. I can’t do everything for you.
When I saw that filling, I knew I wanted to create a popsicle that would taste like classic cherry pie (Daddy's favorite) served with vanilla ice cream. This is that popsicle.
Its retro essence is blended with just enough modern to make it perfect. That's math right there.
The buttermilk provides a welcome tang that balances the sweetness of the fruit, making it just sweet enough to still be refreshing. The block of cream cheese does not hurt one bit either.
The creamy base of this popsicle is flavored with vanilla and just a teeny bit of almond extract to really play up that cherry flavor.
After you place the cherries and buttermilk base in your popsicle molds, you will have a decision to make. You may either leave the two components layered, or use a chopstick or butter-knife to swirl the parts together. I left my first batch layered, as you can see. It was delicious and beautiful, but there was something to be said about the swirled versions that allowed you to have the flavors of cherries and buttermilk in each bite. The choice is yours.
Rolling these popsicles in graham cracker crumbs imitates the crust of the pie. I let the popsicles sit at room temperature just for a minute or two to soften, and then rolled them so that the crumbs would stick. You could return them to the freezer at this point, but I would opt for rolling each one as you are serving it. Of course, you could forgo this step all together, but I always have room for more crunchy texture in my life.
Cherry pie. On a stick. Clearly, we know how to Summer.
This post was not sponsored by or done in collaboration with Trader Joe's, I just happen to like that store, a lot! The opinions stated here are entirely my own, as always.
Cherry Pie Popsicles
makes twelve popsicles
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups of your favorite cherry pie filling (I like Trader Joe's)
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 9 crackers pulsed in a food processor)
In a small saucepan, combine whole milk and sugar. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, until warm, but not hot.
Pour the milk mixture into the pitcher of your blender, along with the buttermilk, and cream cheese. Blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl with a spout and stir in the extracts.
Place 2 tablespoons of your cherry pie filling in each popsicle mold. Cover with the buttermilk base and use a chopstick or butter-knife to swirl, if desired.
Cook’s Note: Leaving the components layered creates a beautiful popsicle, but there is also something to be said about the swirled version that allows you to have the flavors of cherries and buttermilk in each bite. The choice is yours.
Place in the freezer for 1 1/2-2 hours (depending on your freezer)* and then insert your wooden popsicle sticks. Freeze for an additional 2-3 hours, until the popsicles are frozen.
Place the molds in warm water for 1-2 minutes to loosen, and then remove. Wrap the popsicles in parchment and place them in zip-top bags until ready to eat.
Before serving, allow the popsicles to soften slightly, then roll in the graham cracker crumbs. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
*The popsicles should be about half-way frozen when you insert the sticks. This will keep the sticks in the center of the popsicle, and will prevent them from moving around.