A pop a day keeps boredom away!

Posts tagged ‘decorated’

Day 191 — Tye-Dye Ice Pops, an Experiment

I was really pleased at how cute the red, white and blue pops I made turned out, so I decided to try experimenting with other uses of food coloring in ice pops.

Lemonade, my old standby. Also food coloring.

I had this idea that I could achieve a cool tie-dyed effect in my pops by pouring the lemonade into empty molds, then dropping in some food coloring, swirling briefly with a chopstick, then placing the Zoku sticks in place. I hoped that the coloring wouldn’t dissipate quickly and would instead freeze as ribbons of color. It didn’t quite work that way:

The blue one has potential, I think.

Instead of the swirls I’d envisioned, these turned out as muddy messes. The food coloring blended into the lemonade all too quickly, except for the areas where it made nice little pools of artificial colors. They were definitely not appetizing enough to eat.

I think the coloring swirl needs to be more viscous to work.  Maybe if I thicken it with cornstarch or something?  But of course, then it would be even less appetizing.  I’m going to have to ponder this.

Day 158 — Funny Face Ice Pops

Back in April, while we were visiting California for spring break, I found the cutest little set of food cutters at an Asian market. They are meant, I think, for cutting nori to decorate bentos, but I thought they’d be great for decorating ice pops. Since then, I’ve just been waiting for the right time to try them out. Today was the right time.

I used plain old lemonade for the base, since I know how it freezes and because it’s a very neutral color. I thought peaches and/or strawberries would be fun to use for the faces. So I started to cut out tiny little eyes and mouths, and immediately learned two things:

1. Peaches are not the best “tool” for this job, and
2. Strawberries are even worse.

Both fruits were a little too soft and a little to delicate to cut well with these tiny cutters. Just look at the carnage:

Do you see many useable pieces in this mess? It’s almost as if there’s a reason the Zoku people always say to use apples to decorate ice pops.

Still, I was able to get enough good pieces of peach to make one little face (the strawberries were a completely lost cause). I arranged the face on my pie server and used that to stick it to the sides of the Zoku mold.

Then, forgetting that I had already removed its top, I picked up my bottle of lemonade and gave it a good shake.

10 minutes later, I had cleaned the sticky mess off the floor and was ready to proceed. The pop turned out cute, if a little hard to photograph:

In person, you can see that my little face is winking.

This pop was fun, if frustrating to make. The end result was cute enough that I am looking forward to trying more “funny face” ice pops in the future, but next time I’ll stick with apples or another very firm fruit.

Day 88 — More fun with decorated ice pops

I’ve been playing with decorated ice pops again today. This time, I wanted to see if I could put a design around the outside of the pop:

These are some mint chocolate chips I found at Target. I decided to see if I could stick them on with water (I know I could use melted chocolate as “glue,” but right now I’m trying to test the boundaries of what water can do with ice pops).

I dipped each chip into a shallow bowl of water, then placed it on the ice pop (it’s the basic chocolate recipe). They stuck, but not instantly and not securely. I’d hoped to cover the pop completely with chips, for a spiky look, but water was definitely not the tool for that. As I started to take my photos of this pop, the chips started sliding off. I put it in the freezer to firm up for a few minutes and it helped a little. Still, as soon as I started eating the pop the chips began falling off. Guess the chocolate is really necessary.

And now, I need a little help from you. Next week is spring break, and I know I’m going to be very busy. I probably will still make a pop every day, but I am not at all confident that I will be able to post every day. I can pre-make some pops and set them to post daily, I can switch to an every-other-day schedule for the week, or I can take the week off. Those of you who are reading (and I know there are a few of you out there), leave me a comment and let me know your preference. Thanks!

Day 76 — Mulled Cider Ice Pops

It has been a loooong week over here. This cold is now well into its second week, and keeps pretending to get better only to take a step back the next day. I’m still casting about for easy, throat-soothing ice pop ideas.

A few months back, I stumbled upon this in Target:

I had intended to use it hot at some point this winter, or a nice chilly day. Of course, we never actually had any real cold days, so it was just sitting there awaiting its purpose. Which I found for it today.

I couldn’t resist making this pop at least a little interesting, so I used my tily little apple cookie cutter to make, well, tiny little apples. I applied them to the sides of the Zoku with a butter knife.

These pops were fun. The spices gave them a nice warm feel, and the apples came out very cute. I think they’d be divine if I could figure out how to get a caramel swirl into them.

Day 20 — Fruity Flower Ice Pops

I mentioned yesterday that I was tempted to keep trying to make decorated pops, and I wasn’t kidding. I wanted practice in arranging the decorations, and I wanted to try different kids of decorations to see what would work the best. So today, another pop that’s more about looks than about taste.

Yesterday’s apple decorations worked pretty well. The apples adhered to the molds nicely, froze well and were tasty. The only problem with them is their lack of color — with a darker pop base, they look nice, but they would be lost in a lighter base. So I decided to try a darker colored decoration with a light juice, and see what happened:

Just pineapple juice for the pop part.

As I mentioned yesterday, you need two tools for decorated pops. In case you can’t tell from the photo, my decorating material was fruit leather pieces from Trader Joe’s. They’re ends and scraps, which makes them perfect for cutting into decorative shapes.

For my application tool, I decided to try my offset spatula. It’s too narrow for a complicated design, but I hoped that its uniform, rounded edge would make getting the decorations towards the bottoms of the molds easier than it had been with yesterday’s pie server.

I used my little flower-shaped fondant cutters this time:

I arranged my flowers on the spatula and stuck them in. But…they didn’t stick! My cute little flowers just fell off the side of the molds.

Hmm. Well, that wasn’t what I expected. Ok, no problem. I’d just take a little juice and wet the fruit leather so it would stick.

Huh. That didn’t work, either. The bigger flower stuck, but all the little ones were just falling all over. Ok, fine. I kept trying and was eventually able to hey a few to stick, but nothing like I was hoping. I finally gave up and just filled the mold. Yesterday’s cranberry juice pop had been very translucent, so I decided to throw a few of the little flowers into the mold in the hope that the pineapple juice would similarly let them shine through.

The finished pops:


I think the fruit leather has potential, but I didn’t like the way these pops turned out. As you can see, the tiny flowers I threw into the pops just sank and aren’t particularly visible. Plus, the small flowers that are visible bear a disturbing resemblance to pepperoni slices.

I did like the larger flower, though. I think if I can just figure out the best way to get them applied, I could make some really cool decorated pops.

Day 19 — Shooting Star Ice Pops

Today’s pops are all about the pretty.

The other day, I watched a youtube tutorial on making decorated ice pops in the Zoku. As usual, the technique involved special gadgets that can be purchased from Zoku and also as usual, I am too cheap to buy them. But the pops in the video were adorable, so I decided to see what I could do with what I have on hand.

Basically, to make decorated pops, you need two things: 1) the actual decorations, and 2) a way to get them into the ice pop molds neatly. I had apples to make the decorations, and for the second part, I had these:

Pie server, fondant cutter. The cute pop dream team for cheap folks.

I figured the flat, relatively wide surface of the pie server would allow me to assemble my design, then stick it to the Zoku mold all at once, rather than blindly sticking things into the mold at random.

I went with a shooting star theme, using the tiny fondant cutter in the photo above. I’d gotten it in a set of star-shaped cutters I bought back when I thought I’d send my daughter cute lunches every day (the closest I actually get is scratching notes onto her bananas).  Even before I cut anything out, I was grinning.  Something about that tiny little star reminds me so much of those little Hello Kitty twins.

Anyway, I cut some slices of apple and punched out a handful of star shapes, then immediately immersed them in lemonade so they wouldn’t brown. Once I was ready to make the pops (I had some camera issues and these pesky kids needed such frivolities as dinner and an adult to put them to bed, so there was about an hour’s delay), I assembled my stars on the pie server:

See how cute?

 

Anyway, once the design was assembled, I turned the Zoku up on its side, slid the pie server into the mold, then pressed it to the side of the mold for a few seconds.  I tried three designs: a shooting star trail, random polka-stars, and a line of stars going straight down the middle of the pop.

And that’s when I noticed a potential issue. See, being neither terribly bright nor wallowing in free time, I had sliced my apple  haphazardly, resulting in stars of varying thicknesses. When making my designs, I needed to make sure I used stars of similar thickness, so they’d all have a chance to adhere to the molds. This was a pain in the rear, and also not entirely successful.  Next time, I’ll slice the apple across the core so there’s more surface area in each slice and I won’t have to worry as much about uniform thickness.

None of the designs worked exactly as I’d hoped, but there is clearly a lot of potential there:

Even imperfect, it's still very cute.

Scattered stars were an abject failure. They slid, they fell, they stuck in the wrong places. Boo.

My "line" also got scattered, but at least it was messy in a cute way.

At this point, though my cheap little heart hates to admit it, I suspect the results would be much better with the tool designed specifically for this purpose. The pie server worked ok, but its shape not enough of a fit to the molds to allow me the place the decorations as precisely as I’d have liked to. As it turned out, I lost a few stars when they slid off the server or froze too near the tops of the molds. I would also have liked to see a better distribution of decorations across the tops of the ice pops, but the server didn’t seem to reach exactly where I wanted it to.

The base of these pops, by the way, was cranberry juice mixed with lemonade. The pops were tasty, with a pleasantly icy (as opposed to creamy) texture. The apples added both flavor and texture to the finished pops, plus they looked so darn cute!  I was sorely tempted to keep experimenting, but I still have about 340 days to go, so it’ll have to wait…

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