Roasted Blackberry Matcha Pops

I’m relishing LA’s 70 degree weather this week. It’s simply perfect. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and there’s a slight chill in the air to refresh and rejuvenate. The relentless California summer will be here soon, which in recent years feels like it begins weeks before its calendar start date. With Roasted Blueberry Matcha Pops on-hand, I’ll be ready with a healthy, cooling snack whenever the first heat wave hits. These pops are made with fresh blackberries, slow-roasted to thicken their juices and bring out their sweet-tart flavor. I’ve tried the simpler method of cooking the berries over a stove top, and must say that the oven-roasting route creates a far superior result. Top the pops off with coconut milk infused with soothing honey, earthy green tea, and vanilla beans scraped straight from the pod. Use only best-quality, natural ingredients to make these and they’ll satisfy and your not-too-sweet tooth all spring and summer long. 
Roasted Blackberry Matcha Pops

Makes 8 ice pops. 

Ingredients:

2-6 oz. packages organic blackberries

5 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1 can coconut milk

1 Tbsp matcha powder, sifted

1 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment:

paring knife, to scrape seeds from vanilla pod

small baking sheet, lightly oiled with non-stick spray

medium mixing bowl

sifter

whisk

Tbsp measure

liquid measuring cup with spout

popsicle mold

8 popsicle sticks, soaked in warm water for 5 minutes then blotted with a paper towel

Directions:

1.)  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix together the blackberries, 3 Tbsp of honey, and the seeds of one vanilla bean, then place this on a lightly greased baking sheet. When the oven comes up to temperature, roast the berries for 25 minutes. Remove the berries from the oven and lightly smash them with a fork. Set the berries aside to cool a bit. As the berries cool the juices will thicken.

2.)  In a medium mixing bowl, vigorously whisk the coconut milk, sifted matcha, vanilla extract, and remaining 2 Tbsp of honey together. Transfer this mixture to a liquid measuring cup. Spoon the cooked berries, about 2 Tbsp, equally into each of 8 popsicle molds. Carefully top the matcha coconut milk mixture over each of the fruit-filled popsicle cavities. Leave a 1/4″ allowance at the top of each cavity to allow the pops to expand during freezing.

3.)  Place the lid on the popsicle molds, then carefully insert the popsicle sticks, straight down, into each of the open slots. Leave 1″ of each popsicle stick above the lid. Let the popsicles freeze for at least 4 hours or until completely hardened. If you have difficulty removing them from the molds, run the outside of each popsicle mold under warm water to help the popsicles release.

Yin Yang Popsicles

Did you know that this past Monday was National Coffee Day? Until this week, I never realized that there was such a concept, and naturally went straight to Google to search for National Tea Day. The closest we get to such a refreshing occasion is National Iced Tea Day on June 10th and National Hot Tea Month in January. Hah! Here in America, the Land of Java, coffee only gets one celebratory day, while tea gets a day and a month. Go figure.

ying yang popsicles 5In the East, tea is hands down the drink of choice, much more popular than its bean-based counterpart. While drinking black coffee isn’t common, the Chinese have tempered their taste buds to welcome coffee in a milked-down, tea-infused concoction named Yin Yang or Yuan Yang, also known as Hong Kong Coffee Milk Tea.

Yuan Yang is a robust drink that marries the best of two worlds. While coffee’s dark strength embodies the masculine yang component, the tea serves as the softer, gentler, feminine yin. Just when you thought you had to order one or the other, you can have both!

ying yang popsicles HK teaHong Kong milk teas are generally made with a full-bodied, brisk Ceylon Orange Pekoe. This Sri Lankan black tea is characteristically bright and crisp, yet bold enough to stand up to the coffee in Yuan Yang. To make my version of Yin Yang Coffee Milk Tea, I use a Chinese brand of tea that my dad likes. It’s similar to a Lipton–nothing too fancy or expensive, but if you don’t want to go the tea bag route a loose leaf tea like Twinings’ Ceylon Orange Pekoe will work great too. And as for the coffee, use a brew that’s smooth and well-balanced like a house blend or medium roast.ying yang popsicles black and white evaporated milkIn HK the most common brand of evaporated milk to use for Yuan Yang Coffee Tea is Black & White brand evaporated milk. You can easily find it at Chinese markets, but if you don’t want to make the extra trip, just use the evaporated milk available at your local market. Although less common, you’ll find that there are some that make their Yuan Yang with condensed milk, but I prefer to use evaporated because I have more control over the sweetness of my brew this way.

ying yang popsicles 7Just when you thought popsicle season was over, I’ve decided to bring it back! The temperature in SoCal is supposed to soar back up to 90 degrees by the end of this week, but it won’t be problem because I’ll be ready to face the heat this time…Yin Yang Popsicle in hand!

Yin Yang Popsicles

Makes 10-12 popsicles.

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh brewed coffee

2 cups of strongly brewed Ceylon tea (I used 6 tea bags), brewed at 212 degrees F for 5 minutes

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1/3 cup sugar (or to taste)

Equipment:

popsicle maker

10-12 popsicle sticks

large measuring cup

pitcher

shallow bowl

Directions:

1.)  Brew coffee and tea. Pour them into a large pitcher while still hot, then mix in the sugar. After the sugar has dissolved, mix in the evaporated milk.

2.)  Soak the popsicle sticks in some warm water. Pour the coffee-tea into popsicle molds, then place the mold cover on. Shake off the excess water from the popsicle sticks, then insert them into the open slots on the cover.

3.)  Carefully place popsicle mold in the freezer for 3 hours until the popsicles are completely frozen. When ready to serve, run the molds under some warm water so that the popsicles easily release from the mold. Serve the pops immediately or place them in small individual sandwich bags to enjoy later.

*** SERVING TIP: If you are feeling lazy, feel free to serve the Yin Yang Coffee Tea simply chilled or over ice…it will be equally delicious and refreshing.