When summer hits, there is nothing better than a cold, sweet treat to help cool you down. Lemonade is always a good option, but popsicles might be even better. They’re sitting there in your freezer, ready to eat as soon as you need one, and there are no dishes to wash after you’ve finished up. I have always been a fan of popsicles and like just about every flavor you can think of (although I’ll take cherry over grape any day). As a kid, however, pudding pops were always my top choice, and I always opted for vanilla – much to the delight of my chocolate pudding pop-loving family.
I don’t buy the boxed pudding pops anymore. Instead, I make Homemade Vanilla Pudding Pops. My recipe is an eggless pudding recipe, thickened with cornstarch instead of eggs. I like it because it is extremely similar to that Jello pudding I enjoyed as a kid in flavor. You get a very clear, clean vanilla flavor in every bite. I typically use vanilla extract to flavor the pudding, but scraping a vanilla bean into the mixture or even using vanilla bean paste (which is what I used here) can give the popsicle an upscale look by studding it with vanilla bean specks. The finished pop is lighter that ice cream and not as overly sweet as some store bought pops.
If you would prefer to have a regular pudding and not a frozen popsicle, simply pour the pudding into ramekins and chill overnight in the refrigerator. I like the consistency, which is a bit thinner than most puddings. I love the “skin,” but if you prefer your pudding without it, just put a layer of plastic wrap on top before chilling. To release the popsicles, run the molds under warm water for a few seconds. If you use paper cups, you can simply peel it back.
Vanilla Pudding Pops
3 cups milk, divided
1/2 cup sugar
5 tbsp cornstarch
small pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 1/2 cups milk and sugar over medium heat, whisking to dissolve sugar. Bring just to a simmer. You will see steam coming from the milk, but no bubbles.
Meanwhile, whisk together remaining 1/2 cup milk, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl. When the milk/sugar mixture comes to a simmer, whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
Whisking frequently, continue to cook for several minutes, until pudding comes to a simmer and begins to thicken. Continue to cook for 1 additional minute; the pudding should thickly coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract/paste (vanilla extract with beans suspended in it; plain extract is fine).
Pour into clean popsicle molds and transfer to freezer. Freeze until solid, or overnight.
Makes about 8-12, depending on the size of popsicle molds.