Ice Pops: What You’ll Need to Craft the Enjoyable Treat
Classic and oh-so-cool, ice pops are fun to eat and fun to make too. In fact, homemade ice pops are my best bid for a mom-of-the-year nomination from my kids. Together we make a plan, thinking through everything from the layered colors to the tools we’ll use to freeze those layers. And then, together, we enjoy them every sunshiny day.
Indubitably, there is strategy involved (but it happens to be the most delicious kind). Here are the main elements to consider for pleasing ice-pop production, including pros and cons of all the options:
Time is of the Essence
Be honest with yourself about the amount of time with which you’re working. It is possible to freeze a batch of ice pops in minutes—but only with the right equipment. Before getting started, think about timing to determine the tools and ingredients you’ll need. Remember that the thicker or larger the pop, the longer they will take to freeze.
Equipment is Key
Good ol’ fashioned store-bought Popsicles never go out of style, but homemade gourmet pops are definitely hip right now, and there are several ways to craft them:
- Paper Cups + Popsicle Sticks: Classic tools—the originals, really. They’re easy to find, affordable to buy, and the easy way to get started. Make sure you grab the wax-lined cups for optimal results. The only trick with cups and sticks is knowing when to put them together. That is, you have to watch carefully for the time when the ice pops are just beginning to freeze to place in the stick in the center so it’ll stand up.
- Molds: Another old-school tool, molds yield professional-looking ice pops that are usually larger. Unfortunately, however, they come with lots of bits and pieces that can be challenging to keep together. Plus, molded versions can be hard to remove from the molds—even with a wiggle and some hot water, they can break on the way out.
- Zoku: It’s a modern-day quick-pop miracle that stays in the freezer. Whenever you’re ready, it freezes ice pops in just eight minutes. Zoku is an investment, but it makes almost-instant ice pops possible on a regular basis. Also, the line is full of interesting accessories and colorful recipes.
- Pouches: Order long, narrow ice pop pouches online, and create your own ice pops just like the classic clear, plastic tube kinds. The biggest pro to these is that they will hold pops together even if you add ingredients that don’t freeze well—like custard. They’ll freeze faster than molded pops too. The only con is that they can be tricky to fill.
Tip: Do you have a food vacuum sealer at home? Learn how to make ice pop pouches with the sealer and a few other simple tools!
Layers Upon Flavorful Layers!
This is the fun part. Start thinking about how you want each frozen bite to taste and feel as it hits your tongue. There are so many things to consider:
- Texture: Creamy or icy? This decision determines the rest of the ice pop experience. Creamy pops have a luscious mouthfeel that coats the tongue; icy ones usually are juice-based, full of flavor and dissolve quickly on the tongue. Play with texture by adding chunks of fresh fruit or spoonfuls of crunchy granola. Or, dip frozen pops into a cool liquid and then dredge them in chopped nuts or crispy cereal just before serving.
- Flavor: As a kid, you declared your favorite flavor as blue, red, orange or purple. As an adult, however, you know that flavor is so much more than just color. Let the rainbow serve simply as inspiration for the infinite number of flavors you can layer in your own kitchen. Sweetness plus surprise equals success. Keep that basic equation handy when creating layers, and look to classic cocktails or summer desserts for new combinations. Make sweetness your star flavor, then throw in a savory twist in the form of any unexpected texture, spice or herb.
- For creamy pops, add the sweet element directly into the mixture. For example, swirl honey into Greek yogurt.
- For icy pops, incorporate sweetness with an added layer of simple syrup that will enhance the body of the entire popsicle.
- Up the gourmet factor by chopping fresh herbs into a lemonade pop, or sprinkling freshly ground pepper into a pureed strawberry pop.
Unique Ways to Enjoy Ice Pops
Ice pops are not just for dessert anymore. Reimagine frozen treats for meals and snacks throughout the day with these ideas:
- Breakfast Pops:Freeze together the perfect on-the-go breakfast for tomorrow before you go to bed tonight. Alternate layers of granola, fresh fruit and thinned-out Greek yogurt for a delicious parfait pop. Or, soak your favorite cereal in milk, then strain out the soggy bits, and freeze the sweet milk left behind into ice pops.
- Adult Pops:Pops aren’t just for kids! Consider making a spiked batch to surprise and delight your next gathering of grown-ups. Experiment with your favorite drink ingredients or craft a wickedly interesting fudge pop (that’s not for kids) out of cream, Irish cream spirits and chocolate liqueur. You can even use fruity pops to garnish glasses of sangria and Champagne, or let honey-mint-lemon pops melt into two fingers of bourbon.
Freeze a giant batch of ice pops each time you set out to make them. Have each of your helpers layer several pops just how they like them and enjoy all season long—or at least until the sweaters come out of the closet.