When it comes to summer heat, only icy treats will do. In sun-blitzed Texas, give me slushies, ices, snow cones (raspas here in San Antonio) or a double scoop of mint chocolate chip. This time of year, I’m an ice pop-a-day kind of gal.
I make most of our ice pops at home. That way, I can vary my ingredients depending on what’s tip-top and on sale. Homemade ice pops are as simple as it gets; just purée, pour, freeze. I taste as I go, adding fresh lemon or lime juice when things get too sweet, or something creamy like buttermilk, yogurt or a big dollop of pudding.
With ice pops made at home, I can also dial up (or down) the decadence. My new favorites are these Double Melon Mint Pops and Banana and Brown Sugar Ice Pops with Sour Cream – extra easy and loaded with fruit. I recently served rich, dulce de leche yogurt ice pops (nonfat Greek yogurt puréed with jarred dulce de leche, a splash of heavy cream and a hefty pinch of salt) for an adult’s birthday party, and chocolate-and-hazelnut ice pops (low-fat buttermilk puréed with chocolate-hazelnut spread, toasted hazelnuts and bittersweet cocoa powder) after an elegant summer supper, both to some big whoops and hollers.
Some advice to get you started:
Before you pour, arrange room in your freezer for the molds to sit flat. Otherwise, you’ll have the freezer open for ages just before you put in the pops.
Watch out for that brain freeze.
Tricks of the ice pops trade:
Drop chopped fruit, nuts, crushed cookies or swirls of caramel into ice pops as you pour. Depending on the purée, some may settle to the bottom, but it won’t hurt the taste.
Layer colors, letting the first layer freeze, then pouring more on top. Try this with the double melon ice pops, above, puréeing the two melons separately.
Add creaminess with avocado, silken tofu, coconut milk, sour cream, almond butter, buttermilk, pudding, frozen yogurt or ice cream.
Adjust the texture to suit you. Pulse the fruit mixture instead of pureeing to make the ice pops a little chunkier. Or try this irresistible trick: chop watermelon into tiny cubes and spoon into molds, gently packing it in, and then freeze. No puréeing needed, and so refreshing.
Invent new molds. Any ice cube tray, small cup or bowl works as a mold. Cover snugly with foil, and then gently push a craft stick through the foil to help keep it in place.
At a loss for ideas? Try apricot and peach with grapefruit zest, limeade with rosemary, strawberries and coconut milk, puréed cantaloupe layered with rice pudding, green grapes with basil, or cherries puréed with lemon pudding.