A pop a day keeps boredom away!

Archive for January, 2012

Day 31 — Mango Lime Ice Pops

When I bought several limes at the grocery store this weekend, it was with the idea of making at least three lime-based pops this week. Yesterday’s debacle put an end to that idea, but I did still have one lime left. I also had a very ripe mango sitting around, and so a pop was born:

It started out so simple...

The original idea was to have a two-ingredient pop. Lime, mango and nothing else. But I think these were maybe atomic limes or something. The juice from every one I bought was sour to the point of effervescence. The lime juice easily overpowered the mango, so I tried to tweak the recipe to calm things down.

Sugar didn’t do it. Milk didn’t do it. Yogurt didn’t do it. I finally gave up and froze what I had:

These pops were…not good. They had no real flavor at all, just that fizzy tartness. Still, they looked nice and both kids ate them happily. Which leads me to believe that these children will eat anything I freeze into a popsicle. Don’t worry, I promise never to post a grilled chicken pop.

Day 30 — Coconut Lime Ice Pops

It seems like every time I go to the store, there’s a new “milk” product out on the shelves. First it was soy milk, of course, then almond milk. A few months ago, coconut milk started showing up. I guess it was inevitable that someday someone would combine a few of them. So when I saw almond-coconut milk, I decided it was worth a shot. And it seemed like a good base for a tropical-ish pop:

you put the lime in the coconut...

For my first attempt at this pop, I mixed the juice of one lime into about 6 ounces of the almond-coconut milk. This is what happened:

Oh. Huh. Ew.

As Alton Brown would say, definitely not good eats.

For attempt #2, I needed something to make the lime mix into the coconut milk without curdling it. I had 2 ounces of sweetened condensed milk left over from last week’s lemon pops, so I decided to see if that would work. I ended up using the whole two ounces, another lime’s worth of juice, and 6 ounces of the coconut-almond milk (and a few drops of green food coloring to accentuate the “lime” look of the pops). The sweetness of the condensed milk worked, and this time it didn’t curdle.

The finished pops were great. The lime was nice and tangy, but the coconut flavor managed to shine through. I couldn’t taste any of the almond flavor, but frankly I couldn’t taste it in the plain milk when I tried it, either.

Forgive the wonky light in the photo. It was a really sunny afternoon.

You can’t really see it in the photo, but I also tried to put a slice of lime on the side of one of the pops.  Not only didn’t it work (citrus slices are really hard to get into the molds without making a mess), but the plain lime tasted way too sour.  Do not try it at home.

Day 29 — Minted Lemonade Ice Pops

Here in my corner of the South, we have had a very mild winter. I think maybe the temperature has dropped below freezing once, possibly twice. But overall, the days have been mild and this past week has been downright springy.

It’s not a surprise, then, that the patch of mint in my backyard has been thriving all winter. My eldest child likes to go back there and play garden and yesterday she presented me with a big batch of mint she’d picked. I hated to see it go to waste, so:

You'd think I could at least make my own lemonade. You'd think wrong.

I guess I could have made the lemonade from scratch to make this more like a recipe, but I’ve made lemonade before. Believe me, the bottled stuff tastes just as good (and this brand has none of that dietary boogeyman, high fructose corn syrup). I figured there was no need to complicate things.

Anyway, I wanted to infuse the pops with mint flavor, but I didn’t want to be chewing on mint leaves while eating my ice pop. So I muddled the mint with a little of the lemonade, then put the resulting mush into a tea strainer ball and dropped it into my cup of lemonade.

Ideally, I would have let the mixture steep for a good while. However, I was in a hurry and poured my ice pops after only about 5 minutes of steeping.

The finished pops had a very mild mint flavor, barely a hint. But they were cool and icy and very springy.

This was one of those days where decorating the pops would have been interesting, but to the detriment of the pops’ taste. I think it would have looked lovely if I’d have stuck some of the mint leaves to the sides of the molds. But nothing about the idea of chewing on frozen leaves was appealing, so I chose function over form. Makes for a dull photo, I know.

I’m really excited about the pops I have planned for the coming week. I have a few different lime-based recipes on tap, plus an ice-cream inspired flavor and I think maybe one candy-based pop. So stay tuned!

Day 28 — Basic Vanilla Ice Pop Recipe

Today’s pop is not technically a finished product, but rather a first step in the process of developing a recipe (basic though it may be). Specifically, I set out today to develop a good vanilla “base” recipe, to be used as a jumping-off point for various decorations and mix-ins. I want it to be delicious, and I want it to contain the least amount of sugar and fat necessary for a creamy and delicious ice pop.

I started with the very basic ingredients:

Milk, cream, sugar, vanilla extract

I used the same 1:1 ratio of milk and half & half that I’d used with in my basic chocolate pop recipe; 3 ounces of each to make 3 pops. To this I added 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Since ice pops are now a daily treat in my house, I tried to start at the lower end of the scale for amounts of cream and sugar. figure that I can add more in small increments until I find the ideal ratios.

I think I got the amount of vanilla extract right, but I need either a higher ratio of cream or more sugar in this recipe. While the pops tasted good (and plenty sweet), I was not crazy about the texture. They were just icy enough to have an almost unpleasantly squeaky mouth feel. They’re not bad, they’re just not the home run that the chocolate recipe was.

Day 27 — Oreo Cheesecake Ice Pops

Cookies and cream is one of those classic flavors that’s a natural for ice pops. Frankly, the only reason I haven’t made them long before this is that I kept forgetting to buy Oreos.

I finally remembered to buy Oreos yesterday, so today was the day to give them a spin. I didn’t make plain cookies & cream, though — that will have to be another day. Instead, I used the leftover cheesecake pudding from the other day, thinned out with milk.

These pops were nice. I think a regular vanilla cream base would be better, and I’m looking forward to trying that out.

Day 26 — Iced Coffee & Cream Ice Pops

Today was one of those days when there’s simply not enough coffee in the world to wake me up (the baby thought midnight-2:30 was a perfectly reasonable time to be awake). Sadly, I didn’t have time to drink all that coffee, so I ended up with half a pot sitting around. I also had some sweetened condensed milk left over from the lemon bar pops, so I took a page from the Pioneer Woman’s handbook and made iced coffee pops.  I experimented with the ratios of coffee and milk to get a slightly layered look on one of the pops.

Just what the doctor ordered today.

These were simple, sweet, and exactly what I needed today. Tomorrow will (probably) be more interesting — Kerry’s Oreo suggestion is in the works.

 

Day 25 — Creamy Berry Ice Pops

For the first time in days, I made ice pops for the kids today. As is usually the case when I make pops for the kids, I wanted to go with something fruit based and reasonably healthy. I decided to do a yogurt-and-berry pop:

Yogurt, berries, honey. How did I not notice the mess on the counter while I was taking this photo?

This pop took a little bit more prep work than most — I needed to puree each of the three berries with a little yogurt and a squirt of honey (I didn’t take a photo, but I ended up also adding a generous splash of milk to each berry mixture to make them thinner). But I wanted the pops striped, rather than just mixing all of the berries together.

Anyway, the extra time was worth it.  The finished pops were gorgeous. Believe me when I tell you that the photos don’t even come close to doing them justice:

Objects in the photo may be more beautiful than they appear.

Foe once, the thickness of my pop base was an asset, rather than a liability, because this color combination lent itself well to uneven, slightly slanted stripes.  I didn’t do anything to get them that way; the base just didn’t flow into even layers when I poured.   The effect was reminiscent of a sunset or, as my husband put it, very Arizona.

Oooohhh. Aaaahhhh.

These were pure pleasure to eat. They were just so pretty that it made me smile every time I took a bite. They also tasted pretty good, with each berry having a distinct flavor but also working as part of a whole. They were a good reminder that healthy foods can feel decadent, too.

Day 24 — Strawberry Cheesecake Pudding Pops

Today’s pop is kind of a cheat/placeholder. Since I had to thaw the Zoku yesterday, I had to wait until 9 pm today to make a new pop. But that’s when the State of the Union started, so tonight’s pop needed to be quick and easy so I could watch it.

So, having planned a strawberry cheesecake pop, I punted. Instead of making a cheesecake base, I used instant pudding mix for the base. Then I added a few things:

cheesecake pudding mix, graham crackers, milk and frozen strawberries

Yesterday’s lesson was fresh in my mind as I assembled these pops. I erred on the side of using more milk to thin out the base and keep it from sticking to the molds. I used 4 ounces of prepared pudding and 3 ounces of milk. I ended up with leftover base, but at least my pops didn’t stick!

As with yesterday, the role of “crust” in my ice pop was played by crushed graham crackers. I decided to try something a little different today, though. Instead of just putting the cracker crumbs into the pops, I decided to see if I could roll the finished pops in the crumbs.

The last detail was the strawberries. I decided to use whole slices “glued” to the sides of the pops, rather than trying to distribute chunks or puree throughout the pops. The reason was simple — the slices looked so pretty!

I used a butter knife to slide the strawberry slices into the molds. I wish I’d been able to use more of them, but I had to leave room in the molds for the sticks.

The finished pops looked really nice:

An appetizing lineup.

The pop I tried to cover with graham cracker crumbs is in the middle. As you can see, the crumbs didn’t stick so well, even after I wet the pop down with a little water.

Still, these pops were pleasant. I’ll bet they’ll be even better when I get around to making “real” cheesecake.

Day 23 — Lemon Bar Ice Pop Fail

I love lemon bars. They may be my favorite dessert to bake, so it was only a matter of time before I tried to make them into ice pops:

Sweetened condensed milk, milk, lemon juice and graham crackers

I had two issues to work out in my translation — what ratios to use to make the pops work in the Zoku while still keeping the essence of lemon bars, and what to use as a stand-in for the crust.

As you can see from the photo, the crust part was easy; I just crushed up a graham cracker. The ratios were a little trickier. I ended up using 4 ounces of the sweetened condensed milk, 2 ounces of regular milk, plus the juice of one lemon (and a little bit of yellow food coloring to make them look more lemony). The base mixture ended up quite thick, but it was easily pourable, so I figured it would be ok.

Just as I did yesterday, I poured some base into the molds, then put in a layer of the graham cracker crumbs and filled the molds the rest of the way.

10 minutes later, and they were ready. I screwed the pop-release doohicky onto the first pop and turned it until this happened:

Whoops. Guess I should have used more milk.

I waited another minute before trying to extract the second pop, and it came out successfully, though it was still soft and unstable:

You can see I was too afraid to remove the pop-releaser before I took a photo.

My success with the second pop made me brave with the third one. Sadly, that bravery was unfounded:

Sad half-pop

I did, of course, eat the broken bits of pop, and they were delicious. They highlighted one of the big benefits to the Zoku — because it freezes pops so quickly, add-ins like cookies (and yesterday’s malt balls) don’t have time to absorb liquid and get soggy. So the graham crackers gave a nice counterpoint to the creamy and intensely-flavored base.

And luckily, I am confident that I will be able to re-create these pops one day with more success. It should be a simple matter of changing the condensed-to-regular milk ratio in the base mixture.

In the meantime, I am faced for the first time with the problem of having to thaw out my Zoku to clean it. I don’t know how long it will take to thaw sufficiently that cleaning is possible, but I’m guessing tomorrow’s pop is either going to be made late at night, or in a traditional ice-pop mold.

Day 22 — Malted Milk Ball Ice Pops

After several days of concentrating on pretty pops, I decided today was a day for flat-out deliciousness. And the pop on the menu today filled the bill perfectly.

The ingredients:

Milk, cream, ovaltine, malted milk powder, Whoppers.

I think this is the most ingredients I’ve used in a pop so far, but it was well worth it. I made my basic chocolate pop base (2 oz each milk and half & half, plus a heaping spoonful and a half of Ovaltine). To that basic recipe, I added a heaping 1.5 spoonfuls of the malted milk powder. I also crushed up about 8 Whoppers:

Don't crush them up too much, you want them chunky.

This is the first time I’d tried to add candy to an ice pop, and figuring the best way to get it distributed took some trial and error. For the first pop, I put a heaping spoonful of the crushed-up Whoppers straight into the mold, poured the base until just under the fill line, then tried to spoon another batch of Whoppers in. I figured the candy would sink and (I hope) distribute itself throughout the pop. Turns out that Whoppers float, so they didn’t fall into the pop at all.  I had to poke them down with the spoon.

For the other two pops, I still spooned some candy directly into the molds first, but then I filled them only halfway, stopping to add a layer of Whoppers. Then I filled them most of the rest of the way and added a last layer of candy. From a distribution perspective, this was the better method.
You can make out the layers in the finished pops:

it took me almost a month to realize that Zoku sticks will stand on their own.

The pops were, as expected, delicious. I deliberately tried to add more candy to each then I thought they needed, and it was a good call. Every bite had at least one tiny nugget of malt ball, and it really made for a fun dessert. The candy didn’t melt or soak up the base; it remained crisp.

The only real problem with these pops was the cleanup. The Whoppers I had spooned into the bottom of the molds made quite a mess:

It took a handful of paper towels and a fair amount of elbow grease to clean all the malted milk crumbs out the molds (you cannot clean the frozen Zoku with water when it’s still frozen, for fairly obvious reasons).

I was so pleased with how well these turned out that I am currently plotting versions will different kinds of candy. I’d imagine a Reese’s pop would be amazing.

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