Getting Fresh: A Sucker for Popsicles

Last year at this time, I broke in a set of popsicle molds. It was a big step beyond the age-old, homegrown method of pouring juice into Dixie cups, inserting a stick in the middle and patiently waiting for the stuff to freeze.

This newfangled contraption had suction cups, a built-in tray and handy-dandy reusable sticks -- way cool. So I went to work and pureed a mango -- some of you may remember -- and then I never bothered to post the recipe. Here's why: Although thrilled with their stunningly good looks and freeze-ability, the 'sicles tasted kind of eh. Kind of rough on the tongue, kinda chalky.


Hurry, eat me before I melt! (Kim O'Donnel)

Maybe a kid hankering for a cool pop wouldn't notice the texture value, but this big kid did, which prompted further exploration on this frozen matter.

Thing is, I winged it last year, without any kind of recipe at all, and I concluded that ad hoc popsicles definitely do suck -- in the worst possible way. If you want a homemade popsicle to dance on your tongue, you need some recipe structure -- as in details for a sorbet.

A sorbet-based popsicle ensures the right balance of water, fruit and flavorings but without the need for an ice cream maker. The sorbet base needs several hours in the fridge to chill, then it can be poured into the molds for the deep freeze. (Confession: Last night, as I was pouring my chilled base into molds, the liquid leaked with the slightest movement. It took me 20 minutes to figure out that the molds were not tightly suctioned, creating a seal.)

Riding high on my great success with ice cream sandwiches and coffee frozen yogurt, I decided to return to David Lebovitz's "The Perfect Scoop," which contains at least a dozen recipes for sorbet. Two in-season watermelons from the farmer's market made the flavor decision easy, and man, I gotta tell ya, watermelon, when pureed, transforms into dreamy shades of pink and yellow that are reminiscent of the Caribbean.


The shades of pureed watermelon are positively dreamy. (Kim O'Donnel)

The ever-playful Lebovitz suggests replacing the unsightly black seeds with a more tasty replacement -- mini chocolate chips. The flavor is kapow, for lack of a better word. And the texture -- now that's what I 'm talking about -- smooth and almost creamy, like a really good sorbet.

Please do try this at home! Thrills guaranteed. Recipe below the jump.

P.S. Today at 1 ET, I'm hosting my monthly vegetarian round table. Join us for some meat-free hoopla.

Watermelon Sorbetto Popsicles
From "The Perfect Scoop," by David Lebovitz

Ingredients
3 cups watermelon juice -- from about a 3-pound chunk of melon, rind and seeds removed and pureed in a blender or food processor
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch salt
1 tablespoon juice of a lime
1-2 tablespoons vodka (optional)
1-2 tablespoons mini semisweet chocolate chips

Method

In a small nonreactive saucepan, heat about 1/2 cup of the watermelon juice with the sugar and salt, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir sugared syrup into remaining 2 1/2 cups of watermelon juice in a medium bowl. Mix in lime juice and vodka (if using).

Chill mixture thoroughly, for at least four hours, then pour mixture into plastic popsicle molds and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours.

For sorbetto out of the mod: Freeze chilled mixture in ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During last minute of churning, add chocolate chips.

By Kim ODonnel |  July 26, 2007; 11:18 AM ET Frozen Treats , Getting Fresh
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Comments

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With all due respect...a Popsicle should be frozen water w/ sugar and faux cherry flavor...preferably with "freezer burn" crystals attached...and a 2 1/2 inch wooden stick coming out of one end (with maybe a really bad joke written on it) that can be "carved" into a knife by rubbing one end against the concrete by the side of the pool. I miss the 70's.

Anything else is a frozen sorbet/cream/sherbet and shouldn't be called Popsicles. Though...your recipe reads tasty!

Just one "kids" opinion.

btw...I think I'm trying the Gnocchi this weekend. Oy gewalt!

Posted by: Still a kid | July 26, 2007 1:10 PM

The recipe sounds great and pretty easy for novice cooks like me, which leads me to ask a novice question: what qualifies as a nonreactive saucepan?

Posted by: NY | July 26, 2007 1:42 PM

Ditto NY's question. Also, wouldn't the addition of vodka stop the freezing process a bit, or is that the point?

Posted by: minniwanca | July 26, 2007 2:05 PM

Nonreactive means enamel-coated, nonstick, heat-proof glass, anodized aluminum, stainless. Hope that clears things up.
Minniwanca: A smidge of vodka or other alcohol indeed helps to keep the consistency from getting too icy...a little bit goes a long way.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | July 26, 2007 2:12 PM

I just bought this cookbook, and I can't wait to try some of the recipes! (My first order of business was the blueberry frozen yogurt, which was excellent.) I'll have to break out my rocket pop molds.

Posted by: Alexandria | July 27, 2007 9:49 AM

Re: The post from Still a Kid--

That's a time-honored tradition. We did that in the '50's, too! We cut the colored circles off the Popsicle wrappers and mailed 50 or 100 of them for prizes. The sticks had a multitude of uses, way back before you could buy 100 of them prepackaged in a craft shop. They are still a favorite of mine for mixing and applying epoxy glue.

There were few escapes from the summer heat in the '50's. Popsicles, Yahoo chocolate drink, Sundew Orange Drink, going to the movies, and shopping in a department store were among the choices.

Posted by: Rochelle | July 28, 2007 11:32 AM

NY - a reactive saucepan would be the ol' cast iron kettle.

Posted by: jhbyer | July 28, 2007 10:17 PM

You know your a drunk when you have to put Vodka in your popsicle recipes. Sucked down just a little too much of grandpas cough medicine as a kid eh? These days I guess its best to stay drunk. Its almost over.

Posted by: JustPassingThru | July 29, 2007 8:34 PM

I love fruit sorbets, and had never thought to freeze it in popsicle molds rather than put it in the ice cream maker. What a great idea! I'm going to check out this book.

I always put a little bit of vodka in my homemade ice cream or sorbet to help with the texture. I've used triple sec in orange sherbet to beef up the orangey flavor, too.

Posted by: Lizzy | July 29, 2007 10:07 PM

If I don't have an ice cream maker or Popsicle molds, is there a decent substitute? Otherwise it sounds delicious...and I have plastic bags full of frozen watermelon that will be perfect for this!

Posted by: watermelonlover | July 30, 2007 1:26 PM

Watermelonlover, You def. do NOT need an ice cream maker. If you're not up for buying molds, I'd go with ye olde Dixie cup method with sticks in the middle.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | July 30, 2007 2:02 PM

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