I hope all you moms out there had a lovely Mother’s Day. I know I sure did — The Husband made me a lovely breakfast and showered me with presents, then took the kids over to his mom’s so I could putter around a blissfully quiet house. I used my time to finish The Bloggess’ book, which my sister sent me last week. If you haven’t read it already, get it now. You won’t be sorry. Just don’t read it in front of your kids, because they will hear you laughing hysterically and you will be faced with the prospect of explaining what episiotomies have to do with Voldemort. (though if you have a baby, you can read it in front of him, because he’ll just think you’re laughing at him, and he’ll start laughing too.)
Anyway, one tradition we have in my family is that we spend the day with my in-laws, who I love and enjoy. We have a lobster dinner prepared by the men, and just generally hang out and have a nice time. This year, we also had strawberry shortcake for dessert, and I decided to share it with all of you, in popsicle form:
Basic vanilla pop ingredients, plus strawberries and delicious pound cake.
I made the basic vanilla ice pop recipe, then diced up a little of the pound cake and one of the strawberries. I tried to cram equal amounts of strawberries and cake into the molds, but some of the strawberries got stuck high up and precluded too much else from going in. The resulting pops were good, but definitely could have used more of the add-ins.
I will admit, these do not even come close to being as good as the “real” dessert. Still, as ice pops go, they’re quite nice. You can’t really go wrong with cake and cream.
When I was a kid, I thought Cool Whip was the end-all, be-all of dessert ingredients. I wished we could have that on our ice cream rather than the boring homemade whipped cream my dad always insisted on making (I also adored iced tea made from powdered mix and far preferred potato buds to the real thing. I was a strange kid). And I was completely fascinated by desserts that combined Cool Whip and Jello. I don’t recall ever having tasted a magic jello parfait (where plain Jello is layered with a Cool Whip/Jello mixture), but they looked pretty in the ads, and I was sure they’d be fabulous.
I still have never had one of those parfaits, but I thought it’d be fun to make an ice pop in that spirit:
Orange Jello was always my favorite.
I mixed the Jello mix with the hot water it called for, then poured 2-3 tablespoons of it over about 1/4 cup of thawed cool whip. I added cold water to the remaining Jello and poured that as my first ice pop layer. Once that froze, I poured in the creamy mixture. I was a little concerned that it would not freeze hard enough with the Cool Whip, but I hoped that the plain layer would anchor the ice pop sticks and allow me to unmold the pops. I also made one plain Jello ice pop, as insurance.
The layered pops came out just fine, but to my shock, this is what happened when I tried to unmold the plain pop:
I don’t know what happened here, I think maybe there was some ice gathered in the bottom of my Zoku. I have never had a “normal” pop stick before. But at least the layered pops are pretty:
The mousse layer was really soft — I definitely would not make an entire pop out of it, because there’s no way they’d come out of the molds intact. But as a layer, they’re really nice. And they tasted just as good as my childhood cravings had imagined.
Some days, this is a blog about ice pop ideas. Other days, it’s a chronicle of the pop we happened to make that day. Today is the latter. It’s gotten really hot here, and the kids just wanted a fun ice pop. I gave them the watermelon pops from yesterday, but the three-year-old didn’t like hers. So we went on to plan B.
Anyway, I mixed up the jello according to the package directions, then poured the pops. They turned out a very, very bright yellow:
These pops were a big hit all around. Lemon jello, if you haven’t tried it, doesn’t taste much like lemon. For one thing, it’s not tart at all. But the pops were sweet and cold, and that’s all we really needed today.
Before I got my Zoku, I used to buy my kids Popsicles. I like the brand because they sell the most brilliant ice pops for kids — tiny little guys that melt more slowly than regular popsicles. The “secret ingredient” that apparently makes them slow-melt is gelatin.
Today, I decided to try to make Jello pops, to see if they’d work the same way:
Don't be intimidated by the incredibly complex ingredient list.
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Jello. I have fond memories of making (and liking) it as a kid, but as an adult, it just reminds me of being in the hospital. But most of that has to do with the peculiar texture, so I hoped an ice pop would have fewer hospital associations.
I made the Jello according to the package directions, then poured it directly into the molds. It took a long time to freeze; I assume because the Jello was still warm when I poured it. Then, once it was frozen, it felt so soft that I was worried the pops wouldn’t unmold, but they did come out ok:
These turned out to be really fun pops. They tasted almost exactly like Popsicles to me. Even the texture resembled commercially-made pops (no surprise, I guess, because Jello is basically sugar and gelatin mixed with a bunch of artificial flavors and colors). They’re not a healthy choice, but I can see them as an occasional treat for me and the kids, especially in the summer.
I ate my pop pretty quickly, so I don’t know yet if they are slow-melt pops. I plan to give the others to the kids tomorrow, so we’ll see then.
I don’t know about y’all, but I adore the combination of cheesecake and brownies. The flavors and textures are so inherently compatible. So, of course this had to be part of cheesecake week:
I threw chunks of brownie in as I poured. And hoo boy, was this one good! Nice, chewy brownie interspersed with the creamy cheesecake pop. Heaven on a stick.
Today’s pop might be the most decadent one I’ve ever made (though I think I’m going to top it later this week). Anyway, let’s get to it:
Cheesecake base, chocolate chips, coconut oil, chopped pecans, caramel sauce.
Anyway, I used the basic cheesecake recipe. While it was freezing, I melted the chocolate chips with the coconut oil (I used a really low proportion of the coconut oil, because I didn’t want the shell to go solid too quickly). As soon as I unmolded the pop, I dipped it into the chocolate, then immediately into the pecans. Then I drizzled the whole thing with the caramel sauce:
Is anyone drooling?
These pops were kind of over the top, though I mean that in a mostly good way. They were really, really (really, really) rich. To be honest, I couldn’t finish mine. That said, what I did eat tasted amazing. It’s a great combination of textures and flavors and surprisingly, the cheesecake flavor of the ice pop held its own against the chocolate and the caramel. This is one of those “make it to impress your friends” pops.
Today’s pop was a fun one to make and to eat:
Pudding mix, milk, grody overripe banana, cookies.
Banana cream pie is one of those desserts I didn’t “get” until I moved down south. Frankly, I hadn’t ever realized exactly what it was until I was down here — I always thought the custard itself was banana flavored, which, ew. But no, it’s vanilla custard layered with slices of banana, and it’s lovely.
To make the pop, I thinned out 1/2 cup of prepared vanilla pudding with 1/4 cup of milk. Then I used a knife to stick banana slices to the sides of the Zoku mold — I used as many as I could cram on, because I wanted this pop to be all about the banana. Finally, I tried to layer cookie crumbs into the pops as I poured (for the crust, of course). However, there was simply too much going on in these pops and no room for crumbs. I pressed a few into the bottoms of the pops (tops of the molds) instead.
They came out looking pretty good:
I like this shot-from-below angle. Makes my pops seem all large and intimidating. And who doesn't like being intimidated by their dessert?
To my surprise, the bananas did not freeze solid in these pops. Rather, they retained their soft and creamy consistency, which provided a nice contrast to the harder pudding. The overall effect was excellent. I’m calling this recipe a keeper.
For a few years in there, my eldest daughter’s favorite flavor of ice cream (aside from “pink”) was mint chocolate chip, and so I made today’s pops with her in mind:
I used a modified version of my vanilla base recipe — 3 ounces each milk and half & half and a scant tablespoon of sugar. To this I added approximately 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract and two drops of green food coloring. The coloring is not, of course, strictly necessary. But white pops are boring to look at, so I decided to tint them green.
If truth be told, I hadn’t meant to put as much mint extract in these pops as I did. I really only wanted to put in a drop or two, but somehow I managed to get distracted just as I was pouring the extract and much more ended up in the base than I’d intended. And a good thing, too, because these pops were perfectly minty. The chocolate chips served as a great counterbalance to the mint flavor and hep it from being overpowering. As a result, these pops tasted great.
If I have one issue with these pops, it’s that I should have used a better ratio of cream to milk. While the pops tasted creamy enough, they had a very icy, squeaky consistency. It wasn’t a huge problem, but it wasn’t very pleasant, either.
Overall, these were fun, refreshing pops. I think my daughter will love hers.
I have big plans to do a “cheesecake week” in the near future. I figure I’ll work out a good recipe for a cheesecake base and spend the week playing with it. In the meantime, there’s this:
I saw this Philly chocolate stuff in the store about a week ago and knew I had to try it. It’s delicious on its own, but it was clear to me that it’s true purpose is to make ice pops:
I thinned out a large spoonful of the chocolate with a generous splash of milk. I expected the finished product to taste and feel like a colder version of the spread, but I was wrong. Freezing the mixture intensified the chocolate flavor, while the slight tang of the cream cheese faded further into the background.
The real revelation, though, was the texture. It was soft and creamy, exactly like the pudding pops I ate as a kid. I’ve been trying to achieve this texture in my actual pudding pops without success, but this pop nails it. I’m sure it has something to do with the preservatives and stabilizers in the premade mix, but I’m hoping I can recreate it when I make my own, chemical-free cheesecake base someday.
Given how easy this pop was to make and how very delicious it was, I can seem some variations of it in the future. It’s just too good to wait a year to try again.