For April, Netflix has assembled an assortment of movies and television shows that wax 70s and 80s nostalgic. We’re talking classics like Saved by the Bell (a total favorite of mine), Baby-sitters Club, Family Ties, Smurfs, and more. When you think 80s in food terms, what enters your mind? I go straight to Fun Dips, Pop Rocks, and none other than those Jell-O Pudding Pops. As a child of the 80s, I remember sweater-clad Bill Cosby constantly on television with those Pudding Pops commercials, making my mouth water each and every time.
Even though Jell-O Pudding Pops were somewhat of an 80s phenomenon, they pulled a disappearing act in the 90s for reasons unknown. But don’t fret, because they are easily recreated. Now, you can show your kids exactly what they’ve been missing.
Pudding Pops are essentially frozen chocolate pudding using a cornstarch-based, dairy-rich pudding. I think 2 percent milk strikes a perfect balance but feel free to use whatever type of milk is hanging out in your fridge, whether it’s whole milk or skim. For a dairy-free option, soy milk or almond milk is a great substitute. There are also two ways to go with how to freeze them–either in whatever Popsicle mold you have on hand or by using those cute Dixie cups to recreate that Jell-O Pudding Pop look:
Now doesn’t this look like what you grew up on? If you use Dixie cups to mold the Pudding Pops, after they’re frozen, use scissors to cut away the cup from the Popsicle. It’s a quick and simple trick to remove the Pudding Pop in one simple motion.
Using Jell-O Instant Chocolate Pudding is totally ok; just make 1 box of 3.4-ounce pudding mix according to directions. Pour it into 4 to 6 Popsicle molds and freeze overnight. However, this recipe has more of a pow of chocolate than the pudding mix can provide and is made in less than 10 minutes flat. Either way, if your family is anything like mine, coming home to a late afternoon snack of Pudding Pops (for kids and grown-ups alike) is greeted with total excitement. And a hastily-eaten Pudding Pop.
Any extra chocolate pudding that can’t fit into a popsicle mold can be devoured once it cools, much to the satisfaction of kids.
Yield: 8 to 10 pudding pops
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
⅓ cup cornstarch
3 ½ cups 2-percent milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the chocolate pudding: In a heavy-duty medium pot (that is off the heat), add sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. Use a whisk to mix it together, essentially creating your own Jell-O instant pudding mix. Add in the milk and vanilla; turn the heat to medium-high, whisking the mixture vehemently until no clumps remain. Continue stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble, about 4 to 6 minutes. Once mixture is at a roaring simmer, cook 1 minute longer, still whisking constantly, until thickened to a pudding consistency. Pour into a heat-resistant measuring cup, because the spout helps pour the pudding into the molds mess-free.
Make using Popsicle molds: Immediately pour the hot chocolate pudding into 8 to 10 Popsicle molds. Let them sit until cool, about 1 to 2 hours. Fasten the handles into the Popsicle molds and freeze overnight. To unmold, hold the Popsicle under hot running water for about 15 to 30 seconds. Press onto the mold to remove the pudding pop, gently twisting and keeping mold under running water until it is released. Whatever you do, don’t fiercely pull the handle! The handle will come right out without the pudding pop (And, yes, I learned this the hard way.).
Make using Dixie cups: Immediately pour the hot chocolate pudding into 8 to 10 small Dixie cups. Let them sit until cool, about 1 to 2 hours. When pudding is cool, insert wooden Popsicle sticks into the middle of each cup; freeze overnight. To unmold, use scissors to cut down the side of the Dixie cups, peeling off the cup from the pudding pop.