Friday, June 29, 2012

. . . . . Wait A Minute! The Popsicle Post

Here in New England you'll often hear old timers quote that old saw "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute."  There's a lot of truth in that!  So, right on schedule we had a break in the rain, just in time for the very first day of Summer when it turned . . .

And of course Grandma had dropped that Hot-Hot-Hot cast iron skillet on her foot, so there was no hope of heading out to the beach or lake to relieve the 100-degrees in the shade temperatures!  During the worst of it we headed down to the local TJMaxx to do some window shopping while we took advantage of the air conditioning instead.

Grandma almost always finds some goodie or other at TJMaxx and this trip was no exception.  In this haul: popsicle makers for those Hot-Hot-Hot summer days!  And now that it is Hot-Hot-Hot again today, Grandma has spent a chunk of the day making popsicles.

First up, was the X-press Pops Quick Popsicle Maker. The popsicle maker comes with 8 special sticks, 4 drip trays, a tool that is supposed to help remove the pops from the freezer base and the base itself, which makes 4 pops at a time.

The Xpress Pops maker, ready to go!

Grandma had some leftover watermelon in the fridge, so she made Watermelon Margarita pops from a recipe adapted from the one at The Comfort of Cooking.   Here's the recipe the way that Grandma made them:

Watermelon Margarita Popsicles

About 5 cups of pureed seedless watermelon (see note)
Juice from 2 1/2 limes plus the grated zest of 1 lime
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Blue Curacao
3 tablespoons tequila
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

Mix the pureed watermelon, lime juice and lime zest in a large pitcher or quart measure.  Heat the sugar with an equal amount of the liquid just until the sugar dissolves and stir it into the watermelon-lime mixture, then add the Curacao (you could use some other orange flavored liqueur) and the tequila.   Add salt to taste.

Note:  Grandma sometimes has a lazy streak.  Rather than seed the watermelon and blend the watermelon and strain the watermelon as the original recipe called for, Grandma scraped  the watermelon, seeds and all, out of the rind into the work bowl of her Food Mill with the fine plate installed,  and turned the handle.  All the juice and most of the watermelon meat went into a big bowl (put the food mill in the bowl), all of the seeds stayed in the food mill to be thrown away!

Grandma Says:

The X-press Pops Quick Popsicle Maker does indeed make most popsicles in about 10 minutes, just as advertised.  Grandma's took about 15 because of the alcohol she put into the mix.  Grandma tried to pull the second batch at about 23 minutes and found herself with four sticks and no popsicles.  She scraped the stuff in the base back into the measuring cup for another try with the other popsicle maker.

Directions that come with the popsicle maker say that you can make about 12 pops before the base will need to be refrozen (takes overnight), but there are only 8 sticks with the unit.

The red thing shown in the picture above is supposed to be a special tool to help lift the popsicles out of the base after they've been frozen.  Grandma turned it this way and that, tried this thing and the other and generally fiddled with it trying to make it fit onto the popsicle handles.  Eventually she gave up and simply pulled the popsicles out by hand.

The popsicles are very small.  The original Watermelon Margarita Popsicles recipe said that it made 6 popsicles.  Grandma would have easily gotten 12-16 from this popsicle maker.

Whatever flavor you choose to make, your mix will need to be fairly smooth in order to release from the sides of the base.

Ready to eat!

The Watermelon Margarita popsicles are definitely a hit, however - and worth making again!

Next - Old School Popsicles!

The other popsicle maker that Grandma brought home is an old-school popsicle maker where you fill the containers and then pop them into the freezer for a few hours.  Grandma's are Rocket Pop Molds that looks like this: -

My friend Felicia tells me that she adores her Norpro Ice Pop Maker, which is the more traditional "paletas" style popsicle shape:

Grandma looked through several books, hunting for just the right recipe.  She looked at the very unusual  Spicy Mango Ice Pops from My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats

  Spicy Mango Ice Pops

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 dried arbol chiles, with seeds, broken into pieces
2 1/2 cups fresh mango purée
3 small limes, juiced
1-2 medium mangoes, diced
1/2 to 3/4 cup ground piquín or other chile powder, depending on how spicy you want them

Combine the sugar, water and chile pieces in a small pot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat, allow to cool, and strain.  Stir in the mango purée  and the lime juice.  In a medium bowl, toss together the mango pieces with the chile powder.

Divide the chile-coated mango chunks among the ice pop molds or wax-lined paper cups, then pour the mango purée mixture over the top.  Freeze until beginning to set, 3-4 hours.  Insert the sticks.  Let freeze at least three hours more, and then unmold as directed or peel off the paper cups.

If you prefer to use the chile powder on the outside, unmold the pops and allow to thaw slightly (so the chile powder will stick to it), place the chile powder in a shallow bowl, then dip the pops in to coat.

Makes 6-8

Grandma thought about these Orange Banana Dreams from Gourmet Ice Pops for Kids and Adults

 Orange Banana Dreams

7 ounces plain Greek yogurt
2/3 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 large ripe bananas
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Lime zest, optional

Add all ingredients to blender and puree. Pour into six 3-ounce molds or cups. Freeze until solid.

Chambers, Ann (2012-04-08). Gourmet Ice Pops for Kids and Adults (Kindle Locations 386-391). Lakehouse Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

Perfect Pops: The 50 Best Classic and Cool Treats was really a tough one.  Everything in this book looks absolutely heavenly!  Grandma had a very tough time turning away from these Sweet 100 Gazpacho Pops, but it isn't quite tomato season yet here in Vermont!

Sweet 100 Gazpacho Pops

This savory pop will be prettiest if you use orange and yellow tomatoes mixed in with the red. If you’re making the pops for a grown-up brunch (or as an appetizer for a summer cocktail party), feel free to add a few tablespoons of vodka to the mixture before freezing.  Makes 6 to 8 pops


1½ cups chopped,seeded heirloom tomatoes (from about 8 ounces of tomatoes)
1½ cups Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes (about 8 ounces)
¾ cup seasoned tomato juice, such as V8
1/3 cup finely chopped, seeded English cucumber
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons finely minced, seeded jalapeño
Sea salt

1. Place the chopped tomatoes in a food processor and pulse a few times, just until they’re a very coarse, chunky purée. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the cherry tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Stir in the seasoned tomato juice, cucumber, lime juice, and jalepeño. Taste the mixture and add up to teaspoon salt. The saltiness of tomato juices varies, so start sparingly, but you’ll definitely want the pop to have a bit of a salty flavor.

2. Spoon the mixture into ice pop molds and insert sticks. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 week.

3. To unmold the pops, run hot water over the outsides of the molds for a few seconds, then gently pull the sticks.

Ferreira, Charity; Beisch, Leigh (2011-06-08). Perfect Pops: The 50 Best Classic and Cool Treats (Kindle Locations 378-399). Chronicle Books. Kindle Edition. 

Grandma wondered what was in Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas

In the end, Grandma decided on the Mexican Chocolate Pops from Perfect Pops: The 50 Best Classic and Cool Treats

 Mexican Chocolate Pops

This luscious dark chocolate pop has a hint of texture and spice similar to Mexican ground chocolate. 
Makes 6 to 8 pops


6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
2 tablespoons brown sugar*
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper*
2 cups half-and-half*

1. Place the chocolate, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne in a heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the half-and-half to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well combined.

2. Pour the mixture into ice pop molds and insert sticks. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 week.

3. To unmold the pops, run hot water over the outsides

Ferreira, Charity; Beisch, Leigh (2011-06-08). Perfect Pops: The 50 Best Classic and Cool Treats (Kindle Locations 483-501). Chronicle Books. Kindle Edition. 

*Grandma used 160 grams of Madécasse 63% cacao semisweet baking chocolate plus 1 ounce of bakers unsweetened chocolate.

She didn't think the mix was quite sweet enough, so she added 1 tablespoon of honey.

Grandma used 1/2 teaspoon New Mexico ground chile plus 1 small dried chile in place of the cayenne.  She heated the half-and-half with the the chile, cinnamon and the dried chile.  Discard the dried chile.

Instead of chopping the chocolate, Grandma broke it into pieces, threw it into her Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor and pushed the button.

Mexican Chocolate Pops in progress.  Notice that Grandma used a
1 quart measuring pitcher instead of a bowl to make pouring easier.

Back to the kitchen for Grandma!  There are dishes to wash and Navajo Fry Bread to make.  Navajo Tacos for dinner!

Stay cool!


  1. I got the perfect pops for kindle when it was on sale for .99 June 17th. I have Paletas. It's not just ice pops, though the grapefruit ones are terrific, tart with just the right amount of sweet and perfect for our heat.
    It also has ices and granitas.

    Becky (beckygardens)

    1. Grapefruit? Oooh - now you've REALLY made me want it! I absolutely adore grapefruit. I could live on grapefruit, tomatoes and limes!

    2. I snagged the Gourmet Ice Pops for Kids book when it was free on Kindle. That's where the Thai Coffee pops and the Mock Dreamsicles came from....great post, Grandma.

      I agree that the grapefuit sounds AWESOME.

    3. The grapefruit is put 3/4 cup water and a cup of sugar in a pan over med. heat. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temp then stir in 2 cups grapefruit juice. Freeze. Super refreshing!


    4. Those sound stupendous! Just as soon as I finish all the Watermelon Margarita and Mexican Chocolate ones I'll give them a try!

  2. I Found You Again ;) My Favs disapeared along with the power thanks to Debby.


    Take care, Robin

  3. X-press Pops Quick Popsicle Maker

    Makes them look, kinda vulgar.

    TC, Robin

    1. It does, doesn't it? We also noticed in eating the rest of the Watermelon Margarita Pops last night for dessert that every single one of them broke in two when you got about 1/3 of the way down the stick, which seems to be uncommonly large for the size pop that it makes.

  4. Also, the Mexican Choc. ones are shaped like what we used to call "Rocket Pops" when I was a kid. They were red white and blue.

    TC, Robin

    1. You're right of course - these are indeed Rocket Pops. I've found several recipes for making them red, whit and blue with various fruits, and might do some for the Fourth that way.

  5. Sorry about that Grandma,

    I must admit I only looked at the pretty pictures and the captions this time and didn't know that you had already identified them as Rocket Pops in your article.

    A red, white and blue rocket pop is perfect this time of the year! Although I am sure that you will come up with one better than I used to get as a kid. I am quite sure it was all the same flavor and the only difference was the added food coloring to the white base ;}

    TC, Robin

    1. No worries, Robin - I'm glad the pics were clear enough for you to tell just what they were. I remember the red, white and blue ones from my teen years and my kids childhood's too. I've seen several kinds. One I used to like had a cherry flavored top, a white lemon middle and a blue bottom. These days popsicle blue is usually raspberry but I think it used to be more of a blueberry flavor.

      Most of the recipes I've seen use some sort of pureed blueberry for the blue bit, a yogurt-ish white middle and strawberries or raspberries for the top. I'm thinking I might like a lemon ice more than the yogurt.

  6. So far I'm not that impressed with the instant pop or whatever it is I have either. I think old fashioned may be the way to go. And what time am I saving? I can either freeze the pops overnight in a traditional mold, or I can freeze the instant pop (zoku?) overnight .. I mean, same difference really


    1. That was almost exactly what I thought too, Becky - and it seems to me that you get a lot more pops for the money using the traditional molds. I just checked and the Zoku pop maker that makes only 2 at a time is $36.99. The one that makes four is $49.99. A special recipe book is another $16.99, a case to hold them $19.99, 6 extra sticks and drip guards another $11.99. You can buy an AWFUL lot of Felicia's favorite mold ($15.63) for that kind of money and make 10 at a time.

      One of the things I didn't like about the Xpress pops is that you cannot make a sugar-free pop in it as it will not release from the walls. Is the same true of your Zoku?

    2. Yes, in order for it to release right you have to have the sugar, another negative. I got mine at a thrift store for 7.95 and I'm still not impressed, I'm just kind of happy I didn't spend the big bucks


    3. That's too bad. Even kids could do with less sugar in their pops. I would much rather feed mine the "whole fruit" kind of pops, even though they are on the expensive side, as give them colored sugar water.

  7. I enjoy the Zoku. You don't have to buy that recipe book or the holder. A baggie works fine to hold them in the freezer. I think the fun is that they are instant, well, a few minutes to make. Puréed fruit works fine, no additional sugar. I am not feeding them to kids, but I would have fed my kids the fruit ones. I was never comfortable with artificial sweeteners for children, and we try to limit it ourselves.

    1. I don't like feeding kids artificial sweeteners either - or much else that is artificial. For that matter, the OB that delivered my children lo these many years ago was dead set against even maternity vitamins because of the artificial coloring added to them. His research at the time showed a correlation between artificial colors and some preservatives and hyperactivity in children, since reclassified as ADD and then ADHD.

      I decided that all in all I did not like the Xpress Pops maker. For taking up a huge amount of space in my freezer, I got 4 popsicles the first go round and just one the second and every single one of the popsicles that I did get broke into 2 or 3 huge pieces after I'd eaten about an inch off the tip. The rocket pops are cool looking, but they were a bit hard to get out of the mold - though that might be just because I don't have the strength in my hands that I once did.


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