It’s been five years since we checked in with Steve Astorino. While he may have a full-time job during the day, Astorino still spends his nights and weekends tasting and testing and crafting his line of one-of-a-kind gourmet ice pops. Known for their funky flavors, these pops are chock full of fresh fruit and other local produce. “Last year the Cucumber Chile Mint was very popular. Everything is fresh right out of the garden,” says Astorino, who sells his treats at Zora Dora’s Micro Batch Ice Cream and Paletas in Beacon. “Everything we do is handmade.”
Frozen fun Steve Astorino of Zora Dora’s is constantly experimenting with new flavors.
The Culinary Institute of America grad first fell in love with paletas, the traditional Latin American ice pops made with fresh fruit, on his Mexican honeymoon. He says that at any given time there are at least 30 different flavors in the rotation. “Maybe even 40 at the height of the summer,” he adds. The pops are either dairy-based (creamy) or sorbet-based (icy). This year, he’ll debut a new line of ice cream sandwiches. Some are traditional—vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate fudge cookies; while others—including sugar cookies with cardamom pistachio ice cream—take the tasty treat to a new level. Astorino says that he’ll be experimenting with apricot all summer long, though he has already perfected the Apricot Pistachio and the Apricot Cranberry combinations. Not surprisingly sea salt pops are also having their day in the sun. “The Pineapple Chile Lime Sea Salt is very, very good,” he says.
When pop superstar Prince died in April, Astorino immediately debuted the Purple Raspberry Rain in the singer’s honor. “It’s hibiscus, raspberry, and strawberry. When celebrities die, we usually name a popsicle after them.” And what about the upcoming presidential election? “Oh boy, I’ll have to see who wins that one,” he says.
Zora Dora’s Micro Batch Ice Cream and Paletas, Beacon 646-206-3982; http://zoradora.com
Felicia Needleman Levinson of Larchmont writes musical theatre for a living. But the busy mom of three always loved to cook and bake and often joked that she would launch a food blog one day. Well, the joke was on Levinson when her son designed a website for her birthday. For almost two years, Levinson has been publishing recipes, the stories behind them, and beautiful photos on www.unwrittenrecipes.com. Here, she shares one of her favorite frozen desserts.
Vanilla Pudding Pops with Chocolate Chips
Makes about 10 pops
You will need a Popsicle(R) mold or paper cups and sticks
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Freeze Time: Several hours or overnight
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Mini-chocolate chips (optional)
1. Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Place the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk together well to blend. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking, until all the ingredients are dissolved. Whisk in the egg yolks.
2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and whisk the mixture continuously until a large bubble or two appears and the mixture starts to thicken. Lower the heat to low and continue to whisk for one more minute. Remove from the heat and strain into the bowl. Whisk in the vanilla.
3. If using the chocolate chips, you may want to drop a few into the bottoms of the mold, so that they appear on top of the pop when you unmold them. You can also layer them throughout the pops or simply put a handful of them on the top of the pops (this will really be the bottom of the pop when unmolded). Or you can leave the pops plain. They’re great any way. Pour the pudding into a pitcher or measuring cup with a spout for better control. Then pour into the molds, layering with the chips or not. The original recipe calls for you to chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 1 hour before inserting the sticks, but I couldn’t be bothered and just covered the mold after I’d filled it, inserted the sticks, and froze.
4. Once frozen, run the molds under hot water to release the pops. These can last two weeks in the freezer, but let’s be real, please!!
Note: Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart. I added the chocolate chips, and changed the freezing method somewhat.