These refreshing Spicy Pineapple Popsicles (Paletas) are layered with a spicy, salty spice mix that enhances the fruity freshness and sweetness even more!
One of my favorite memories of my childhood in Sri Lanka is buying fresh mangoes from wayfaring street vendors carrying a big basin full of fresh fruits like mango and pineapple over their head, which they would then peel and cut up for you, and toss in a spicy chili powder and sell in little plastic bags.
That practice of eating fresh, ripe, sweet, juicy fruit with a spicy chili powder mix is so common in Sri Lanka, that it’s now ingrained in my DNA. There’s something just so satisfying about snacking on sweet fruits like that. The mangoes taste even sweeter and more refreshing when paired with a spicy kick like that, and we’d even turn the bags inside out and lick off all the chili powder inside!
Mango, guava, olives, bilimbi cucumbers, jambu, lime, gooseberry, wood apple, pineapples were all routinely enjoyed by young and old alike this way. While I still love to dip my fresh fruits in an extra spicy chili mix from time to time, I decided to turn this combo into summer-worthy Sweet, Spicy Pineapple Popsicles (Paletas)!
These spicy pineapple popsicles are really easy to make, and super refreshing. The spice mix isn’t too spicy (although we do add more cayenne pepper for our own consumption), and they’ve got a very distinct salty, spicy, sweet, cool flavor contrast with a little heat and a kick of course.
Here are some tips to make perfect spicy pineapple popsicles (paletas) –
You can make the spice mix as spicy as you like. The recipe here gives you a moderately spicy mix, but if you generally don’t like it too spicy, then reduce the amount of cayenne and black pepper. Otherwise, you can increase the amount of cayenne pepper to about 1 – 1 1/2 tsps if you like it extra spicy.
When you sprinkle a thin layer of the spice mix over a pineapple layer, make sure to mix it in gently with that pineapple layer. If it’s not mixed in and instead you have a thick layer of spice separating the pineapple layers, this will create a weak point in the popsicle and may break easily when you unmold the frozen popsicle. The reason I make “layers” of pineapple and spice mix like this, instead of mixing the pineapple puree with all of the spice mix is that this way I have clear layers of sweet and spicy. Mixing all of the spice and pineapple puree together would overwhelm the fruity flavors with the spices and heat. But layering them lets me enjoy the best of both worlds!
Alternatively, you can make plain pineapple popsicles, and then sprinkle the spice mix all over the frozen popsicles later!
And for those of you who grew up eating fruits mixed with chili powder like Achar (Achcharu) or Tajín, – these spicy pineapple popsicles have your name written all over ’em! They are truly refreshing with a lovely twist on regular pineapple paletas!
- About 500 g (1 lb +) fresh pineapple (from 1 medium pineapple)
- 2 - 4 tbsp sugar/agave syrup (if the pineapple is very sweet, I only use 2 tbsp)
- Juice of 1 lime (about 1 tbsp)
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined. Set aside.
- Make sure you stir the pineapple mix before you pour, since the pineapple may settle to the bottom and form separate layers.
- Pour the pineapple into 8 popsicle molds - about ⅓ of the way up. Sprinkle a small layer of spice mix and swirl it into the pineapple layer. Pour another pineapple layer over this (another ⅓) and repeat with the spice mix.
- Pour the final layer of pineapple on top and finish off with another layer of the spice mix, WITHOUT swirling it in. Place the popsicle sticks in the molds and freeze overnight.
- When ready to unmold - run the popsicle molds under hot water for a few seconds. Carefully remove the popsicles and return to the freezer until needed (if you're not going to eat them immediately).
- Sprinkle a little extra spice mix over the popsicles before eating. Enjoy!
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