Popsicles

Cantaloupe popsicles

Cantaloupe popsicle 1

If you like cantaloupe — especially if you like cantaloupe sorbet — you’ll love these popsicles. These are my favorite popsicles so far this summer.

This recipe is adapted from Fany Gerson’s Paletas de Melón recipe in her book Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas.

Cantaloupe popsicles

  • 4 cups chopped cantaloupe
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • pinch of salt

Stir the superfine sugar into the water until it is dissolved. (As I mentioned in my Strawberry lemonade popsicles post, it is worth getting your hands on superfine sugar, because it dissolves easily in room temperature water. If you can’t find it, you can always heat the water and the same amount of regular sugar together on the stovetop in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Then let the sugar water cool down before continuing.)

Blend sugar water, cantaloupe, lemon juice and salt thoroughly. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Strawberry lemonade popsicles

Strawberry lemonade popsicle

This is the popsicle I was looking for. This is a popsicle everyone in my house likes. It’s not like anything I can buy in a store, it’s easy, and it’s worth the time spent making it from scratch.

I started with Fany Gerson’s Strawberry Ice Pop recipe and experimented until suddenly what I was eating — and what everyone around me was wolfing down — was a definitely a strawberry lemonade popsicle.

Strawberry lemonade popsicles

  • 4 cups fresh strawberries, washed and quartered
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • juice of one big, juicy lemon

Stir the superfine sugar into the water until it dissolves. (It is worth looking for superfine sugar, because it dissolves so easily. If you can’t find it, you can always heat the water and the same amount of regular sugar together on the stovetop in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Then let the sugar water cool down before continuing.)

Blend the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar water thoroughly. Taste the mixture. When it freezes it will taste less sweet. Now is the time to mix up more sugar water and add it if you think the mixture needs it.

When it tastes good to you, pour it into popsicle molds and freeze.

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Update (August 7, 2013): My favorite strawberries to use are sweet, in-season Chandlers. I just made this recipe with tart end-of-the-season berries and had to use 1 cup of water and 1-1/4 cups of superfine sugar.

Shape matters and other popsicle discoveries

Shape matters 3
I made this avocado popsicle in a Tovolo mold. It’s pretty good. In fact, it’s one of my favorite flavors. The first taste is a little jolting — it tastes like a melty avocado, but sweet. That doesn’t seem right. It’s not what I expect in a popsicle. But after that it’s just smooth and delicious.

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I made a few little avocado pops with this Zoku Mini Pop Mold, but they didn’t taste the same. Each mini pop is one ounce, and ends up being about the size of a cake pop. I realized after trying the same popsicle in two different shapes that traditional popsicle molds are tongue shaped, and they give you the best taste bud contact. Somehow when they are cake pop shaped, avocado popsicles taste a lot more like avocados and a lot less sweet and creamy — at least to me. For plain old strawberry popsicles, though, these were great.

Shape matters 8
We found a Zoku Single Quick Pop Maker on sale at our local Sur la Table, and made apricot-chamomile ice pops (also from Paletas) in it and then in the Tovolo molds, too.

Shape matters 11
The liquid was still a little warm when I poured it in the Zoku quick pop maker, but it froze in fifteen minutes or so, and the texture was perfect. The same recipe frozen overnight in the Tovolo molds came out grainy, with big flat crystals.

I started out freezing my popsicles in uncovered drinking glasses. The Sur La Table employee who sold us the Zoku quick pop maker told us that when freezing popsicles the traditional way — overnight in the freezer — covering them could give them a better consistency. I haven’t noticed a difference since I started using the molds that come with lids. Both the Tovolo molds and Zoku  mini pop molds cover the popsicles, and I still got one set of popsicles coming out grainy; other batches were great. The drinking glass popsicles were great, too. I wonder if freezing time and sugar levels have more to do with how they turn out.

Clearly I have a lot more learning and experimenting to do.

Popsicles

Popsicles 1
Paletas de fresa (or strawberry ice pops) in the back row and paletas de yogurt con moras (yogurt ice pops with berries) in front.

Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas FrescasPaletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas by Fany Gerson

When I was a kid and it was really hot out and our legs were sticking to the car seats, sometimes for a special treat we stopped at the nearest drive-in dairy for big sticks or orange creamsicles. Mostly we ate popsicles at home, though. It seemed like we always had popsicles in the freezer in the summer, and for while we experimented with making our own. We poured whatever fruit juice we had in the fridge into molds and later we flopped around the house sucking on them. Sometimes we just used water. The texture never felt like store-bought popsicles — orange juice froze funny with big flat crystals, other juices felt kind of granular, and the icicles (water popsicles) came out hard, like ice. But I like the memory of wondering what they’d be like and experimenting, and then eating them slowly while reading a book, trying to decide if I liked them or not during the long, boring afternoons.

When I grew up, I didn’t think much about the holidays and changing seasons until I became a mom. Suddenly, they seemed important. Rhythmic, seasonal sense memories seemed like a key part of kid life, and it felt like it was largely up to me to make them happen. For summer, I was going to make popsicles. Last year I ordered a couple of popsicle recipe books and looked at the pictures and fantasized. This year, I got out the blender.

I started with a book that had pictures of healthy kids eating fruit-studded popsicles out in nature. Right away I realized I should have been reading the recipes instead of looking at the pictures when I picked this book out, because it called for ingredients like wheat germ, quinoa, and flax seed. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any fond memories of flax seed, let alone fond summer popsicle memories. I tried the most innocuous-looking recipe in the book: yogurt, strawberries, lemon juice and honey. When I gave one of the popsicles to my son, he rejected it and he has refused to try any round, drinking glass-shaped popsicle I’ve offered him ever since. I get where he’s coming from. They tasted like so-so smoothies, and they felt grainy.

Gavin thought getting the texture right might take sugar, so I gave away the first book (along with the bag of wheat germ I bought in an initial wave of optimism) and turned to Paletas by Fany Gerson. Most of her popsicle recipes involve simple syrup, which seemed like a good sign — and it was.

We tried paletas de fresa (or strawberry ice pops) and paletas de yogurt con moras (yogurt ice pops with berries) first. The strawberry ice pops tasted almost like homemade strawberry jam and they felt soft and smooth and right. I have fantasies of eating homemade strawberry popsicles with abandon, but the amount of sugar in these made them feel like eat-with-restraint dessert popsicles. Not exactly what I was looking for, but delicious.

The yogurt pops on the other hand were… less successful. Gerson suggests blackberries but says you can use any berry. I went with blueberries and left them whole. I knew in my head that when you freeze things they don’t taste as sweet, but it sunk in for me in a way I’ll remember as I was biting through those hard, tart little berries. I loved the yogurt base made with lemon simple syrup and honey, though, so I’m going to try them again, but next time I’ll blend whatever berries I’m using with powdered sugar (one of Gerson’s alternate suggestions) before stirring them into the yogurt.

This morning, we picked up strawberries and avocados at the farmers’ market.  I want to cut the sugar the strawberry ice pops in half to see how the texture comes out, retry the yogurt pops with blended strawberries, and then I’m going to make paletas de aguacate (avocado ice pops).