Piquant Paletas

Piquant Paletas

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Mexican popsicles are the perfect summer treat.

When she was a young girl, Angelica Ibarra remembers, she went to church with her family and looked forward to the sweet frozen treat they often enjoyed afterward. She says the colorful, fresh-fruit-filled paletas were sold by vendors lining the streets of Mexico, and the vibrant flavors matched the excitement and memorable time. The feelings of pure joy and refreshment are what Ibarra wanted to emulate with her Paleteria del Angel, opened in Sparks in July 2020.

Owners Efrin Valdez and Angelica Ibarra

A frozen dessert on a stick, paletas traditionally are a mixture of fresh fruit, water, and sugar. They also can be made with a milk base, which provides a creamier, softer texture. No matter the recipe, the popsicles often impart nostalgia, Ibarra says.

“It’s a dessert but also an emotion for our customers,” she says. “It’s the feeling of their hometown. Latinos know what paletas are, and they always say ours remind them of home.”

All About the Base

Water combined with sugar and add-ins result in a frozen ice pop that isn’t rock hard.

“The sugar gives the paletas a little bit of softness for a better texture,” Ibarra adds.

When Ibarra uses milk in her recipe, the heavier fat content produces a creamy paleta that lends itself well to flavors such as cookies and cream, vanilla, and caramel. She even takes it one step further by using sweetened condensed milk.

“It already has sugar, so we don’t have to add extra, and it gives [the paleta] a little bit of a different taste. Vanilla, chocolate, or coffee are good flavors to try,” Ibarra adds. “Some batches do have the condensed milk already in the mixture; there are others where we fill in the center. We have a strawberry water-based [paleta] that we fill with the sweetened condensed milk and it comes out as you’re biting it.”

Just-poured strawberry-kiwi paletas freeze in molds

Tastes and Toppings

Lemon. Lime. Banana. Coconut. Mango. Pistachio. Marzipan. Mojito. Ferrero Rocher. Starting with 10 flavors and now serving almost 80 different options, Ibarra says there’s one major factor in making paletas — using fresh ingredients.

“It’ll taste different if they’re made right,” she notes. “With fruit you get to choose your ripeness, and the more ripe it is, the sweeter it is. I have people asking why we don’t use concentrated lime juice to save on costs, but we can’t compare the taste to that of freshly squeezed. We like that about [our products]. We leave a little bit of the fruit in there so people can tell.”

Many of the more distinctive options are based on customer feedback. Kiwi, pineapple, and cucumber are mixed with chile spices for a little kick; milk-based vanilla paletas are dipped in chocolate and coconut; or rum and cinnamon are mixed in to create a Mexican eggnog flavor commonly known as rompope.

A delicious assortment of paletas feature fresh fruit

“No matter what [flavor] you pick, paletas are refreshing,” Ibarra explains. “If you make your own, you can add extra ingredients or take them out. [Paletas] are on a stick so you can take them with you and have a nice, delicious time.”

For details, visit Paleteriadelangel.com.


Nothing beats a cool treat on a warm day. Freelance writer Heidi Bethel enjoys venturing out to explore new tastes and flavor profiles, and she cannot wait to make paletas at home with her two sons.


Homemade Strawberry Paletas

(courtesy of Angelica Ibarra, co-owner, Paleteria del Angel in Sparks. Serves 8)

2 pounds fresh strawberries
¼ cup sugar
1 cup water

Rinse, drain, and hull the strawberries. Dice ¼ of the strawberries and add to molds or small cups. Place remaining strawberries, sugar, and water in a blender. Blend well.

Pour mixture into molds or cups. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze until solid.

To remove popsicles, hold the outside of your mold or cup under hot running water for 5 seconds.


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