Now that summer is here, it’s time to talk about hot-weather food. And what’s better on a steamy afternoon than a popsicle?
What? No, they’re not just for children. Look, hear me out, okay? The trick is to buy your own popsicle molds and just make whatever flavor you want. I know. I’m a genius.
Who doesn’t remember sitting on your front step with a popsicle on a hot June day, trying to hit that sweet spot between the treat melting all over your hand and being able to savor it as long as possible? You’d sit there, lamenting the short-lived delight of eating it, hoping there were more in the freezer and wondering how to sneak another past your mom.
OK, full disclosure: I’m Australian, so it wasn’t June but January, and it was MUCH hotter, and we call them ice-blocks, and, for that matter, mums.
Anyway, now that you’re fully on board with my idea, you’ll need a couple of things. The main one is popsicle molds. I bought mine from Amazon. You can get them with plastic handles that catch drips, or for a more authentic experience, you can get just the mold and place your own wooden sticks when the popsicles are partly frozen. I have a 6-month-old. I don’t do anything that requires relatively precise timing.
The only other thing you need is a blender. I have a stick blender which works fabulously. I also recommend a jug with a decent pouring spout, or I suppose you could use a funnel. I say jug, to save dishes.
A couple of my favorite recipes this year have involved fruit — no big surprise there, classic frozen treat ingredient no matter where you’re from. What IS surprising is the accompaniments to said fruit. A favorite website of mine from which to obtain recipes, Smitten Kitchen, recommends a strawberry, lime and black pepper concoction, and let me tell you, that recommendation is sound. The black pepper adds a little sparkle to the sweetness of the strawberries and the pop of the lime. The classic banana popsicle has also shown its face when too-ripe bananas suddenly appear in my fruit bowl. Just add some milk and/or cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, whizz it up with your blender and you’re golden.
The point is, you can really just make up your own combinations. I’m growing some thriving mint in my garden this year (I know, I know, try not to be too impressed!) so watermelon and mint will be getting a turn, as well as lychee and basil, another combo I’m dying to try out. Lychees may not be common in this decidedly non-tropical part of the world, but there’s always canned. On the creamier side of things, you could make a classic fudgesicle if you want to put a little more effort into your creations. I’ve even seen recipes for mango lassi popsicles — a combo of both fruity and creamy that I can definitely get behind.
If you’re the kind of adult who enjoys an adult beverage, and you are of age to do so, then there are even more worlds of opportunity for you. The creator of the strawberry, lime & black pepper recipe recommends what she refers to as an “After-Bedtime Dip” which is some white tequila in a glass that you jam your popsicle into repeatedly (hey, it’s your drink, you can double-dip!). You can also make cocktail-style popsicles, like a classic mai tai or a bloody mary frozen treat for the morning after. Some for your forehead, some for your tummy. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing, friends. Enjoy!
Strawberry, lime & black pepper popsicles
(barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
- 20 ounces of hulled & quartered strawberries (I used about 1.25 one-pound containers)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- juice of 3 limes, or 6 tablespoons bottled lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of sea salt
Combine strawberries and sugar and let them macerate. I left mine for 15 minutes, but if yours are a little under-ripe or off-season you could definitely leave them a little longer. Add them and the water to a saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature (with patience or back in the maceration bowl which is then put in an ice bath), add lime and salt & pepper and blend to your preferred consistency with a stick blender. I like chunks in mine. You might prefer a smoother popsicle. Pour into popsicle molds with 1/4 inch of space for expansion and freeze for five hours.
Note: I upped the lime, lowered the sugar and used the higher end of her black pepper recommendation. Feel free to adjust accordingly for your taste!
Tips : Remember to pop the sticks in if using disposables, after they’ve been in there for 45 minutes or so. Unmold them with a quick run under hot water.
If you, like me, are keen to use the molds again ASAP, unmold all the popsicles then re-freeze them on a metal tray in your freezer, pop some wax paper between them (just in case) and freeze them in freezer bags.