popsicle kari

It has taken its time getting here, but it is finally feeling like summer. And on a hot day there is nothing like a cold treat to cool you off.

We’re lucky to have Locopops here in town. They have an amazing selection (which changes fairly often). My daughter has been a fan of their mango chili popsicles since she was a baby, and one of her babysitters loved the cookies and cream flavor. I like to go in and buy a bunch of each to stock our freezer so that they could have a treat at the end of their weekly dinners together. And they’re great!

I mentioned this to a friend and she told me about a book (Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican ice pops, shaved ice and agues frescas) about making popsicles at home, or “paletas” as they are called in Mexico. You can tell that there is a Mexican influence by some of the popsicle recipes in this book – spiced tomato-tequila, Mexican chocolate, and sour cream, cherry and tequila. I started thinking about how fun it would be to make popsicles with my daughter and so I bought the book.

We had fun going through the book together and deciding what we’d like to make. The obvious first choice was the spicy mango ice, which we made into a popsicle instead of a shaved ice. It was delicious and incredibly easy. Then we tried the watermelon; another hit. We were on a roll. We then stepped out of our comfort zone a little and tried the roasted banana ice pops. Yep, they were good, if a little over the top with the cinnamon for me. Next up was an unusual sounding one that is apparently popular in Mexico – avocado. My husband and daughter liked these a lot. I realized that I like my avocado more as a savory than a sweet, but I’m glad that I tried it.

Knowing that my husband can’t say no to anything with cheesecake, but not finding a recipe for anything like that in the book, I put Google to use and came up with a wonderful sounding (and tasting) blueberry cheesecake popsicle on the web.

Given that these are easy to make and fairly healthy, I think it’s a fun thing to do over the summer with your kids. And for those of us with kids, aren’t we always looking for something easy and fun to do with them over the summer? And believe me, they are more special to the kids if they’ve helped (washing and/or cutting the fruit; measuring out the sugar, etc.).

Aside from the ingredients involved, you’ll need popsicle molds. You can find these on Amazon.com for under $20. My favorite is the Tovolo brand — I think not having to mess with popsicle sticks makes life easier. You’ll also need a blender or food processor. And don’t fret if the “batter” tastes a little too powerful of whatever citrus is used – somehow this usually evens out during the freezing time.

Here is the recipe for one of our favorites – strawberry popsicles. It is easy and tasty. Make them in the morning, stick them in the freezer and you’ll have a fun and homemade dessert ready that night. Play around with it — if you want to try a different fruit, go for it. Maybe add a chopped herb — basil and peach would be really nice. Add a little rum and you have strawberry daiquiri popsicles (keep in mind that alcohol will make it harder for them to freeze, so freeze longer). Have fun with them, and then sit back on a hot summer night and enjoy!

Strawberry Ice Pops (from Paletas by Fany Gerson)

4 cups fresh (or heck, do thawed frozen ones if it is easier) strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters

¾ cup sugar

½ cup water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine the strawberries and sugar in a bowl. Let sit for about 20-30 minutes until the strawberries start releasing their juices. Place in a saucepan with the water over medium heat and simmer until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Transfer the mixture to blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender – one of my favorite kitchen tools), add the lemon juice and puree until smooth.

Divide the mixture among your popsicle molds, leaving a little room at the top since as they freeze they expand a little, snap on their lids and freeze until solid, about 5 hours. When you’re ready, gently wiggle the mold to loosen the popsicles and pull them out.

(The book says this makes 8-10 popsicles; I’ve probably filled my mold more than suggested, but I get 6.)