Please welcome Monica Caretto of the beautiful food blog Sweetbites, whose guest post below includes a wonderfully simple recipe for sweet, tangy fruit-and-yogurt freezer pops. My fellow Atlantans may find them reminiscent of the wares of King of Pops, a locally-fabulous paleta peddler. I have no doubt that Monica’s recipe will give even the King a run for his money. —Ed.
Did you know that the first recorded ice pop was created by 11-year-old Frank Epperson of San Francisco, who left a glass of soda water powder and water outside in his back porch with a wooden mixing stick in it? That night the temperature dropped below freezing, and when Epperson returned to the drink the next morning, he found that the soda water had frozen inside the glass, and that by running it under hot water, he was able to remove (and eat) the frozen soda water chunk using the stick as a handle.
Now, I cannot guarantee the validity of this claim, but I like to believe that this beloved treat was created by an 11-year-old. Kind of fitting, don’t you think?
I have always said, kids know best.
The enjoyment of frozen treats is almost universal. They are beloved all over the world. Italians have their granitas and gelatos, Indians their Kulfi, Japanese their mochi, and let’s not forget the Mexican paletas (my own favorite). The fact that they are so widespread is quite remarkable, given the great variety in different cultures and cuisines.
While I love gelatos for the creamy texture and luxe ingredients—chocolate, cream, custard—they do tend to be a bit heavy during the hot summer months. All I want during the summer is refreshing treats, and a Mexican paleta is just that.
The best thing about ice pops is that they usually require little prep, and if your ingredients are fresh, you’ll have a very delicious outcome with very little work.
Tips and tricks
Molds: You may think you need a special mold, and if you want to go fancy, you can find all shapes and sizes to suit your need. Me? I used disposable cups and simple wooden sticks.
Filling: No matter what mold you end up using, remember that the mixture will expand once it freezes—so when filling the mold, leave at least ¼-inch space at the top to allow for expansion. If your pops have chunks of fruit or other goodies, you’ll want them to be evenly distributed and not sink to the bottom, so fill out the mold with some of the base, partially freeze (about 45-50 minutes), and then place the fruit on top, along with the rest of the base. (If you don’t care about where the fruit ends up, you can skip this step and add the fruit at the same time you add the base to the mold.)
Stick it to it: if you are using a non-conventional mold—disposable cups, shot glass, etc.—you’ll have better luck getting your wooden stick to stand up straight if you partially freeze your pops before placing it in the center. The partially frozen pop will hold the stick in place.
Unmolding: To unmold the pops from most types of molds, all you need to do is dip them in a bit of warm water. Once you unmold them, you can store each separately in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer.
Yogurt Ice Pops with Blueberries
Makes about 8-10 pops
Adapted from Paletas by Fany Gerson
- 1 lemon (you will only use the peel)
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup fresh berry of your choice (I used blueberries)
- 1 ½ cups plain unsweetened Greek-style yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Make the lemon syrup. Rinse the lemon, then peel it (you are only using the peel). Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon peel, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve, then refrigerate until chilled.
- Prepare the berries. In a sauce pan, over low heat, place the fresh berries, with about 1-2 tablespoons of sugar (use your judgment here, if your berries are sweet, less sugar if they are tart, more) and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir often to bruise the berries so they release their juice, once the sugar is dissolved continue until the mixture comes to a boil, then remove from the heat and let it come to room temperature. If you want a smooth mix, place in a blender and whirl.
- Make the pop base. Put the yogurt and honey in a blender, add the chilled syrup, and blend to combine. Pour a bit of base mixture into each of your molds, to fill halfway. Freeze until the mixture begins to set, about 40 minutes.
- Finish. Divide the berry mixture among the molds. Using a skewer, swirl in order to make a marble effect on the pop. Pour in the remaining yogurt mixture. If using conventional molds, snap on the lid and freeze until solid, at least 3-4 hours (24 hours is best). If you are using glasses or other mold (like I did), freeze until it sets, about 30-40 minutes, then insert the sticks, and back it goes to finish freezing.