I’m usually not one to be lazy in the kitchen. But even I can admit that there are times when it is just too blasted hot to cook. Too hot to turn on a burner, too hot to run the dishwasher, and too hot to eat pretty much anything that isn’t a frozen. Enter: popsicles. Normally I’d be tempted to use some of my favorite flavor-boosting techniques for a fruit-based dessert (syrups steeped with herbs, roasted fruit) but because of the aforementioned heat, I decided that simplicity was my main goal with these recipes. I wanted to make recipes that required little more than stirring or maybe a quick whiz in the blender, but would still have a complex, interesting flavor.
I love the combination of tangy and creamy treats, so I decided to gear my popsicles in that direction. All-fruit popsicles can be lovely, but they aren’t very satisfying if you’re at all hungry. And using buckets of fruit juices and purees can get spendy in a hurry. Tangy-yet-creamy creations can help out both of these shortcomings– filling out the light, sweet fruit with some heartier dairy, and stretching expensive fruit with less expensive dairy. But you have to be careful with tangy-yet creamy creations. I learned as a young teenager (conducting an ill-fated orange julius replica experiment) that if you add too much acidic fruit to milk you will get a curdled mess. The easy answer is to use cultured milk products, like yogurt and buttermilk. Then you can add as much acidic fruit as you like, and the mixture will still be creamy and smooth.
I decided to keep the recipe quantities a little vague for a couple of reasons. First, popsicles are very versatile– unlike ice cream or sorbet the sugar concentration can be simply a matter of taste (not prescribed by chemistry). I also liked the idea that preparing these recipes would create as little mess in the kitchen as possible (less measuring=less dishes to wash). And last, popsicle molds are far from standardized- so if I scaled the recipe to make a full batch for my mold, it wouldn’t necessarily fill up your mold. Much better, I think, to make a recipe that can be made in just about any quantity. These treats are so simple and tasty, I’m pretty sure they’ll be in my freezer for the rest of the summer. And maybe next year I’ll get an air conditioner.
Key Lime Pie:
1 part zest and juice of limes
7-8 parts buttermilk
sweetened condensed milk to taste ( I used about half a can to sweeten the juice of three limes)
graham cracker crumbs (optional)
Zest and juice limes (omit the lime zest if you’d prefer a milder lime flavor). Stir lime juice together with sweetened condensed milk until there is a pleasant balance of sweetness to tartness. Add in 6-7 times the volume of liquid in buttermilk. The sweetened condensed milk makes this popsicle the richest most ice cream-like of the bunch. It is also the most fragile– be very delicate when removing these pops from the mold. If you would like a lighter popsicle, you can swap out some (or all) of the sweetened condensed milk, and sweeten the lime juice with a sugar syrup or agave nectar. Stir in graham cracker crumbs for texture, if you’re so inclined.
1 part grapefruit juice
1 part buttermilk
honey to taste
This popsicle is both the simplest and lightest recipe of the bunch. First mix the grapefruit juice and buttermilk, then stir in honey until the mix has a sweetness that you like. Make sure that you completely stir in the honey each time, so you don’t accidentally oversweeten the mix .
1 part mango chunks (frozen or fresh) or mango puree
1-2 parts yogurt
lime juice to taste
simple syrup or agave nectar to taste
a few drops orange flower water (optional)
a pinch ground cardamom (optional)
Blend mango together with yogurt. I like to use frozen mango chunks, and then add enough yogurt for the mixture to blend fully. Add in lime juice, then sweeten to taste.
Freeze popsicles in molds. Remove frozen pops and store in plastic bags for several months.