By Andrea Weigl
When you are sticky with sweat, nothing tastes better than an icy treat on a stick. A pop is the perfect break from mowing the lawn, weeding the garden or playing in the yard. Even if you aren't engaged in strenuous summer activity, it's a nice treat while relaxing on the front porch.
But we thought we could do better than the rainbow-colored varieties in the grocery store's freezer section.
"There's a lot more to a pop than just Kool-Aid in a Popsicle mold," Castella says.
Frozen pops offer an opportunity to have some fun with your children in the kitchen this summer, to impress your friends with a unique dinner party dessert or palate-cleansing course, or simply to indulge what Castella calls your inner "kidult."
TO LEARN MORE
TIPS FOR A GREAT POP
Bases can be juices (homemade or store-bought), fruit purees, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, sherbet, coffee or tea. The last two have to be brewed to double strength because freezing dulls the flavor.
The Tovolo molds come with sticks that snap onto the top of the molds. If you prefer wooden sticks, you will have to let the pops freeze for at least an hour before inserting the stick so it will stand up straight.
Freeze time depends on the type of mold. Ice-cube trays take two hours at most, while a stand-up mold will take eight hours.
Always taste the pop for sweetness before freezing. Remember, freezing dulls flavors. If it tastes fine, add a pinch or two more sugar.
Be careful when combining citrus flavors with yogurt. There is a chance the mixture might curdle, although we didn't have any trouble when we tested it.
When adding an herb flavor to a pop, add the herb (rosemary, thyme, mint) to a heavy simple syrup. Bring two parts sugar to one part water (such as 1 cup sugar to 1/2 cup water) to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Add the herb at the beginning. When the syrup cools, strain the herb out and add as much syrup as necessary to the pop base.
If you want to add chocolate chips, fruit or other edible items to the pop, don't use heavy items because they will sink to the bottom. Mini chocolate chips work better than regular-size chips.
After removing the pops from the molds, wave them in the air for about 10 seconds to reharden the outer layer. Wrap each pop in a plastic sandwich bag and place all the pops in a larger plastic freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.
SOUTHERN SWEET TEA POPS
4 cups water, divided
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 limes, peeled and cut into rounds
2 lemons, peeled and cut into rounds
12 sprigs of fresh mint
3 "family-size" or 8 regular-sized bags Orange Pekoe Black Tea
BRING 2 cups water to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat, and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Remove from heat and add 2 cups cold water. Cool for 10 minutes.
POUR the sugar water into a clear glass container. Add limes, lemons and mint and stir. Add the tea bags. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3 to 5 hours, or until the tea reaches the desired strength.
REMOVE the tea bags and stir the tea. Scoop out the lemons, limes and mint and divide them evenly among the pop molds. Pour in the tea. If using wooden pop sticks, freeze at least 11/2 hours to 2 hours and then insert the sticks. Let freeze for a total of 6 hours.
REMOVE from the freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing the pops from the molds. Serve graciously.
Yield: 6 (6-ounce) pops.
PER SERVING: 240 calories; 65g carbohydrate; 1g protein; 0g fat (0 percent of calories); 0mg cholesterol; 2g fiber; 8mg sodium; 59g sugar.
STRAWBERRY KIWI FRUIT POPS
2 kiwifruit, peeled and cut into quarters
1 cup fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)
One drop vanilla extract
PUREE kiwi and strawberries in food processor or blender with water and sugar. If mixture is too thick, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture is easily poured but not runny. Taste for sweetness. If it tastes perfect before freezing, add a pinch or two more sugar, as flavors tend to diminish when frozen.
POUR into pop molds and freeze at least 8 hours. To remove from mold, run hot water over bottom and sides of pop mold for 5 seconds. Repeat for 5 seconds if needed. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 (6-ounce) pops.
PER SERVING: 53 calories; 13g carbohydrate; 1g protein; 0g fat (0 percent of calories); 0mg cholesterol; 2g fiber; 2mg sodium; 9g sugar.
MANGO LASSI YOGURT POPS
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (regular, low-fat or fat-free)
2 to 3 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
PEEL mango and cut fruit away from pit. Discard pit. Puree mango flesh in food processor or blender. In a bowl, stir yogurt until smooth and creamy (no lumps). Add sugar and pureed mango and stir to blend thoroughly. Taste for sweetness. If it tastes perfect before freezing, add a pinch or two more sugar; flavors tend to diminish when frozen.
POUR into pop molds and freeze at least 8 hours. To extract, run hot water over bottom and sides of pop mold for 5 seconds. Repeat for 5 seconds if needed. Serve immediately.
ALTERNATIVES: Try fresh blueberries or strawberries instead. Generally, you need only 1/2 cup of fruit puree to 12 ounces yogurt. Just remember to taste for sweetness, as fruits vary.
Yield: 6 (6-ounce) pops.
PER SERVING: 52 calories; 3g protein; 9g carbohydrate; 1g fat (13 percent of calories); 3mg cholesterol; 0g fiber; 33mg sodium; 9g sugar.
1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, cut in half
4 1/2 cups white grape juice
DIVIDE grape halves among the pop molds. Pour in the grape juice. If using wooden pop sticks, freeze for 11/2 hours to 2 hours and then insert the sticks. Continue freezing for a total of 6 hours. Remove from freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing the pops from the molds. Enjoy immediately.
Yield: 6 (6-ounce) pops.