Paletas de Cafe (Coffee Ice Cream)

It’s officially summer so I’m bringing back my paleta series! I’m adding 10 more paleta recipes to this series, starting today with paletas de cafe (coffee paletas). 

I’m starting with coffee because it’s my husband’s favorite ice cream flavor, but also because I want to start off with something thats both energizing and cooling for this summer heat! 

What is the difference between a popsicle and a paleta?

Though similar, paletas and popsicles do have some key differences that make paletas way better, in my opinion. 

Popsicles are mass produced and have lots of preservatives and artificial flavoring. Paletas use natural ingredients like fruits and are made fresh, so they don’t require artificial flavoring or preservatives. 

Paletas also have a rich history and are culturally important to Mexican street snacks. Nowadays, you will find plenty of brick and mortar paleta shops but it is still common to get your paletas on the street from paleteros (ice cream carts). 

Two Types of Paletas

There are MANY paleta flavors & combinations, but there are generally 2 types of paletas made:

  1. Water based- these are typically fruit pops that have a water or juice base. These paletas are more true to the integrity of the fruits, and are also healthier (and vegan too!)

  2. Cream based- these are creamy paletas with a texture that is more similar to ice cream than a popsicle. They usually have some combination of heavy cream, milk,  mexican crema, and/or sweetened condensed milk. These also tend to have more flavors available because it isn’t limited to fruits- some common popular flavors are coconut, coffee, oreo, and, chocolate. 

Ingredients:

  • Instant coffee-  you don’t need that much! For this recipe I used Nescafe Clasico,  but I think it would also be amazing using Maxim Mocha Gold Korean Instant Coffee (this has sugar in it so you’d need to make slight adjustments for sweetness). Option to use decaf for children as well!

  • Cream- a combination of milk, sweetened condensed milk, and crema Mexicana. Mexican crema is not as sour as American sour cream, so don’t worry about that ingredient- just trust me on this! 

  • Vanilla extract- for a little boost in flavor. Coffee extract would be even better, but I’m using vanilla here since most people will already have this in their pantry.  

  • Cellulose gum (or corn starch)- This is the secret to making the paletas consistently creamy and NOT icy. More details about this below.

About this Cream Base

The cream portion of this recipe can be used as the base for almost any cream-based paleta that is not a fruit flavor.

Two Ways to make a creamy Paleta

  1. Use cellulose gum in your cream base. The cream base has milk, crema Mexicana (creme fraiche), and sweetened condensed milk. If you don’t have cellulose gum,   it’s totally fine to leave it out or see option #2. I highly recommend the cellulose gum because it really helps to stabilize ice cream so it’s super smooth and creamy. 

  2. Heat the cream base and add cornstarch to thicken it. This activates the corn starch to absorb water and prevents icy crystals from forming, instead turning into a custard-like texture. The batch I made with this method was extremely creamy & smooth, but be careful not to undercook the cream base because you can end up with a starchy taste and texture if you don’t fully activate the corn starch. 

Sweetness

I don’t like super sweet desserts so my recipe is a bit on the conservative side with the sugar (sweetened condensed milk). Make adjustments according to your taste. 

Paletas, especially fruit based ones, tend to lose some of its flavor and sweetness when they are frozen, so keep that in mind before you freeze your mixture.

Equipment needed

To make paletas, you will need a popsicle mold, popsicle sticks, and plastic bags for storing. You will also need a blender and electric hand mixer.

I recommend a silicone popsicle mold because they are easier to remove the popsicles from. The exact one I have is no longer available on Amazon, but I found a similar one that you can purchase. It also comes with the popsicle sticks and baggies. Here is the link to purchase:

Popsicle mold, sticks, & baggies

Paletas de Cafe (Coffee Paletas)

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 cups Mexican crema
  • 1 cup whole milk lactose-free optional
  • 8-10 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee decaf optional
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or coffee extract
  • 1/4 tsp cellulose gum or 2 tsp corn starch

Instructions
 

  • Add all the ingredients to a large measuring cup except for the cellulose gum. Mix well until the instant coffee grounds are fully dissolved and well incorporated.
  • Using an electric hand mixer on high, slowly sprinkle in the cellulose gum while the mixer is ON, so that the powder distributes evenly and doesn't clump. The cellulose gum works as a stabilizer and gives you a paleta that is creamy, not icy. This mixture is not meant to thicken too much after mixing, so don't worry if it looks a little too runny to you.
    Alternatively: Here's what I recommend if you're using cornstarch instead of cellulose gum. Combine the milk, crema, and sweetened condensed milk in a small sauce pan. When combined (no chunks), turn on the heat to low. Stir and do not let it boil, but once it's hot add about 1/4 cup to a small bowl with the cornstarch and mix until smooth. Then add it back to the saucepan and continue cooking over low heat, stirring until it thickens. Let it cool before adding the remaining ingredients.
  • Pour mixture into a sanitized popsicle mold. Slide in the popsicle sticks and freeze for at least 8 hours.
    To remove the paletas from the mold, place it in warm water for about 20 seconds to loosen. With a little wiggling and force, the popsicles will slide right out.
  • Store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. You can keep them longer but they start to form more ice crystals and get harder over time.

*This post contains affiliate links to products that I actually use & recommend. I am not sponsored by these brands, but I do make a small commission from qualifying purchases made through these links.

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Hi, I'm Stella!

I come from a multicultural background, and cooking has been one of the best ways for me to stay connected to my heritage. My recipes are tried and tested, many of them passed down through family. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

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