Paletas Demystified! Fany Gerson’s Three-Year-Old Summer Classic

I’m digging Fany Gerson’s 2011 book Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas, and not just because I had secret fantasies of driving an ice cream truck as a kid (all the Bomb Pops I could eat!). It’s an adult take on popular kids’ treats, with an infusion of stories about the author’s childhood in Mexico. What’s more, it offers a history of chilled Mexican treats that any food nerd (myself included) can’t help loving.

Gerson also wrote My Sweet Mexico, and she owns the La Newyorkina paleterías, so she’s an authority on Mexican sweets. What I love about Gerson’s recipes for paletas, raspados (shaved ice), and aguas frescas is the way they demystify Mexican flavors and techniques for the average American cook, even as they inspire you to freestyle your own combinations.

There are some traditional flavors from Mexico that I find absolutely addicting, as in get me to rehab. There’s the sweet-spicy combo in Gerson’s pineapple-chile paleta, and her passion fruit–cream ice pop, both currently taking up freezer space in my kitchen. Then she creates mash-ups I never would have considered, like sour cream, cherry, and tequila, or a beer and chile granita that makes day drinking a totally acceptable thing (score). Gerson’s book can inspire anyone to step away from the oven this summer to create some amazing sweets.

Leena Trivedi-Grenier is a Bay Area food writer and cooking teacher with an undying love for pot stickers. She earned her master's in gastronomy from Le Cordon Bleu. Besides CHOW, her writing appears on her blog Leena Eats and in various food-based encyclopedias.