Summer Treats

Recently, I overheard a mother admit, with a slight tinge of embarrassment, that she has convinced her 3 year old daughter that the squat little white truck playing the chirpy tune all summer long is a “music truck”, intended to bring joy to the neighborhood by circling the block playing “Do Your Ears Hang Low” ad nauseum. The mom figured she could get away with the fib for maybe a couple more years, sparing her for a time from the urgent begs and pleads for a sugary and who-knows-what’s-in-there-snack. Brilliant? Yes. Kind of a bummer? Well, maybe. I mean, even if incredibly hot temps aren’t your thing and swimming pools make your hair turn green – don’t we all have happy memories of sitting on the porch enjoying a sweet, ice-cold, neon-colored popsicle?

Of course, moderation is the name of the game when letting our kids be kids with food choices. But, most luckily and wonderfully for us, there are some creative foodies out there who have put a whole new spin on summertime treats – artisanal popsicles, pops made of ingredients that parents can get behind and flavors that may even trump a rocket pop!

Popsicle pioneers People’s Pops in Brooklyn, NY have taken frozen fruit on a stick to another tasty level. Using all fresh and local fruits and herbs, happy customers enjoy flavors like: red plum basil, blackberry rosewater, and classic strawberry and cream (you know, in case your kid isn’t into rosewater). You can visit their shop, or you can catch where they’ll set up stands that day via Twitter–it’s almost like chasing down the ice cream truck, kind of. Proprietors and sisters, Irma and Norma Paz of Las Paletas in Nashville, TN, offer creamy banana nut, blueberry lime, and creamed corn pops. That’s right. Creamed corn. And folks say they’re delicious. And, all popsicles there can be dipped in chocolate. (Maybe not the corn, though?)

Looking for something to try closer to home? The Dallas Observer recently mentioned La Princesa Paletas in East Dallas as a fresh and fruity source of popsicle goodness.

But, if your neighborhood isn’t hip to the latest in gourmet popsicles yet, you could either write your city councilperson and demand that tarragon cantaloupe popsicles be made available in your community immediately, or you could very easily and cheaply (and fun-ly) make your own.

While you don’t need any super special equipment (paper cups and popsicle sticks work just fine), you can pick up something as simple as a nice, plastic mold and stick/handle set at the dollar store or you could get super serious with a fancy Zoku set (available through Amazon.com, Williams Sonoma, etc.).

popsiclesHoneydew Lime Popsicles
via Gourmet, July 2004

1/4 cup superfine or regular granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 (3 1/2-lb) ripe honeydew melon, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (4 cups)
2/3 cup fresh lime juice

Dissolve sugar in water by stirring if using superfine or by heating in a small heavy saucepan if using regular granulated (then cool). Blend half of melon and half of lime juice in a blender until smooth. Add syrup and remaining melon and lime juice and purée until smooth. Force purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-quart glass measure or bowl, pressing on solids and then discarding them. Pour mixture into molds and freeze until slushy, about 2 hours.
Insert sticks, then freeze Popsicles until completely hardened, at least 6 hours.

FudgesiclesFudgesicles
via Everyday Food Magazine

2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch and 2 tablespoons milk until smooth; whisk in remaining milk, cream, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring constantly, and cook 1 minute. Transfer to a large liquid measuring cup and stir in vanilla. Let cool slightly before pouring into ten 3-ounce popsicle molds. Freeze slightly (about 30 minutes) then remove and insert popsicle sticks. Freeze a until pops are solid, about 6 hours. Just before serving, briefly run molds under hot water to release pops.

Summer just isn’t quite summer without getting your face sticky with an ice-cold popsicle. This quirky new trend is steering the summer staple in a much, much healthier and maybe even a much more fun direction. And hey, if visiting an artisanal popsicle shop makes you a little sad and lonesome for the ice cream trucks of your childhood, I’m sure you can find a creepy guy to sing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” over and over for you and your family. Please don’t.

This post brought to you by Jenny Leggett, who also likes to hide vegetables in yogurt and fruit smoothies and then freeze the leftovers into pops. Muwahahaha, I am so tricky!