Summer. Do you remember how much fun it used to be?
There was nothing like the feeling of coming home on that last day of school, knowing that you wouldn’t have to wear a uniform for three months or spend the afternoons thinking up sentences for those silly vocabulary words. Depending on your age, blowing bubbles in the yard, drawing on the sidewalk with chalk and/or riding your bike to the park were pretty much the only things on the agenda.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that deciding what kind of frozen treat to buy at the corner store for an afternoon snack was pretty much the toughest decision you had to make. Am I?
I mean, there were so many to choose from. You could get one of those sickly sweet (but strangely addictive) Otter Pops in the plastic tube that always cut the sides of your mouth. Feel like something a little richer? The sherbet-based Flintstones Push-Up Pop was a good choice. Want to make your mom worry that you would choke to death? The Screwball with the two gumballs at the bottom of the cone was the only way to go, in that case.
Yes, popsicles remind me of simpler times.
So, that’s why I was pretty excited to add the Zoku Quick Pop Maker to my kitchen gadget collection this year. All you need to do is stick the base in your freezer for at least 24 hours and then you will be able to whip up any variety of ice pop that you want in about seven minutes. The possibilities are endless—from single flavor juice pops, to pops with fresh fruit slices, to pops with a cream-based core.
The first time I used the Zoku, I decided to make fudge pops and assumed that you could pretty much use any kind of recipe. So, I found one via Pinterest (of course) that sounded rich and delicious. And, it was. Unfortunately, the mixture was also way too dense and the pops did not freeze all that well. They were nearly impossible to remove from the molds with the handy “Super Tool” that comes with the maker. I probably just should have stuck to either the recipes on the company’s blog or in the recipe book. Oh well. But, you can bet that I’ll be making a trip to the dollar store for regular old ice pop molds so I can make these fudge pops again.
In spite of this mishap, I was not deterred. I made a second attempt using the Zoku recipe for Lemonade Pops and had much better results. The pops came out of the molds very easily this time around. It pays to follow directions, right? The end product is tart and refreshing and vanilla extract balances the acidity of the citrus. The flavors developed even more after the pops spent a few hours in the freezer.
Overall, I am a fan of the Quick Pop Maker. I like the fact that the pops can be made with natural ingredients, fresh fruit, and minimal amounts of sugar (It should be noted, however, that you should not use sugar-free ingredients. A small amount of sugar is needed to help the pops release from the mold). And, the basic pops use many staples you probably already have in your pantry so they are inexpensive to make (the lemonade pops probably came out to around 25 cents each). The maker will produce up to nine pops before it needs to be put back into the freezer and you can buy a nice plastic case separately to store your pops.
Like the bowl of my ice cream maker, the Quick Pop base now has a permanent home in my freezer. You never know when a craving might strike.
“Zoku Quick Pops,” by Jackie Zorovich & Kristina Sacci
Yields 6 pops
What you will need:
1 cup water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup (2 ounces pure orange juice
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Lemon slices, cut 1/8-inch thick (optional)
What to do:
- Stir together the water and sugar until sugar has dissolved.
- Stir in the lemon juice, orange juice and vanilla.
- To assemble to pops, use the Zoku fruit wand (sold separately from the maker), or tweezers*, apply the lemon slices to the walls of the pop maker molds.
- Insert sticks and pour the lemon base until you reach the fill line.
- Let freeze completely and remove.
*Or, just your fingers, like I did. Stuff sticks to the side of that mold on contact, trust me. So, I guess you should be careful if you go this route, or you’ll end up like the kid in A Christmas Story who gets his tongue stuck to the pole.