Tel Aviv in the summertime is synonymous with the beach. The beach culture here is one of the most age-encompassing, socio-economically defying activities. Everyone in Tel Aviv loves the beach and everyone is there all summer (is there any better way to handle the major heat and humidity of the Middle East?). The crystal blue warm water and the light sand of the Mediterranean Sea are a vision of splendor even for a Southern California girl like myself (the Pacific’s got nothing on it).
Throughout the entire day, from sunrise to way past sunset you can find a different group of people occupying the sands. The early morning is reserved mostly for the elderly who come to do their morning stretching (it’s really an awesome sight). Once the sun starts pounding, all the beautiful young locals and tourists alike come out to get their tan on and to play matkot- the unofficial Israeli national sport of beach tennis (without a net). The evenings are left for young families and young lovers, taking in the awe of the sunsets. And of course late-night, the beach becomes the hot spot for those who are trying to get a breath of fresh air from the smoky club scene.
For our second picnic along our journey of the four corners of Israel with Yodveta Dairy we chose Danya’s favorite beach, a quite secluded spot in Yaffo (south Tel Aviv) called Aliyah beach. We started really early, when the temperature was just right and the beach practically empty. We invited some kids from Danya’s son’s kindergarten to join in the fun while we served the most classic beach delights you can find in Tel Aviv- popsicles and Malabi (see description below).
There are two ways to beat the heat in Tel Aviv- the first- to stay indoors with the air-con blasting and the second-to eat popsicles as often as possible. The beaches are filled with popsicle vendors, selling all sorts of flavors and varieties, all though the industrial types with ingredients that even an English major couldn’t pronounce. We decided to go the homemade route and make creamsicles- which as it turns out are super easy to make and the combinations are really endless.
A few tips before getting started:
-You can use any popsicle mold- from the super fancy ones (Zoku) to the plain old plastic ones (like the ones we used). If you use the plastic ones with wooden popsicle sticks then cover the molds once you’ve poured the mixture inside with plastic wrap and then stick the sticks inside- this way they will stay in place.
-Keep in mind that the mixture will become less sweet once frozen, so don’t be worried if you taste the mixture and it feels a little sweet.
Ingredients for 6-8 popsicles:
For the base:
1¼ cups whole milk (Yotvata 3%)
¼ cup heavy cream (Yotvata 38%)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Place all ingredients together excluding the cornstarch in a large bowl and whisk together until combined. In a separate bowl mix together ½ cup of the mixture with the cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved.
- Place the milk mixture in a small saucepan over medium heat until just boiling, reduce heat and then add the cornstarch mixture. Mix until thickened slightly (2-3 minutes).
- Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- At this point you can add your desired ingredients (see our ideas below). Place mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.
Nutulla Popsicles: Add 2 tablespoons of Nutella
Coconut Popsicles: Replace the milk with the same amount of coconut milk (not cream). For more flavor you can add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger or 2 tablespoons of mango puree.
Berry Popsicles: Add 3 tablespoons of your favorite mashed up berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries).
Malabi is the Israeli version of pannacotta. If matkot is the unofficial national sport then malabi is the unofficial national dessert. In Israel, you can find malabi in kiosks lining the boardwalk and at all restaurants which serve, none other than, Israeli food. It’s a cream based dessert and mixed with cornstarch giving it that thick pudding like quality, but what makes a malabi a malabi- and therefore Middle Eastern- is the addition of rosewater in the mixture and in the syrup. Outside of Israel, rosewater can be found at Arab or Indian supermarkets or at specialty markets. We made the kids a little DIY malabi bar where they could add the toppings of their choice. Traditionally malabi is served with ground coconut and peanuts, but we gave the kids the option of adding marshmallows, which they were quite found of, as you can see in the video.
Ingredients for 6-8 servings:
3¼ cups whole milk (Yotvata 3%)
⅓ cup cornstarch
1¾ cup heavy cream (Yotvata 15% or 38%)
⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon rosewater
For the syrup:
¾ cup sugar
½ cup water
A dash of red food coloring
1 teaspoon rosewater
1 cup grated coconut
1 cup crushed peanuts
- Combine ¾ cup of the milk with the cornstarch and mix until the cornstarch is dissolved. Set aside.
- Place the heavy cream, sugar and rosewater in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and mix vigorously until mixture is smooth. Reduce heat and cook until just boiling again.
- Remove from heat and pour evenly into selected serving bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Prepare the syrup: place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until just boiling. Cook for five minutes on a low boil and then remove from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
- To serve: serve each bowl of malabi with one or two tablespoons of syrup. Sprinkle on some coconut and peanuts and serve.