I mentioned a while back that my dad was very cool and got me a Sur la Table gift card for my birthday back in February. It was an ends-in-a-zero birthday, so the gift card amount was pretty nice. =) I spent a little of it, but have been carrying the card around in my wallet for quite a while, not knowing what else to buy. My bakeware collection is pretty extensive already, and I hadn't come up with anything else that I just had to have.
We've been making lots of ice cream because it's ridiculously hot every day here. The girls were also bugging me to make popsicles, and the June Bon Appetit issue has lots of cool frozen treats (not ice cream) that I want to make. I have an inexpensive little popsicle mold, but it doesn't hold very much. I was debating getting a new one when I ran across something in the back of a recent Cook's Illustrated magazine--a review of the Zoku Quick Pop Maker. I quickly decide that this was what to spend the rest of my gift card on! Normally, I might not have bought something like this, since it seems a bit expensive just to make popsicles. But birthdays and gift cards are for things you wouldn't necessarily buy for yourself, right? =)
Like the canister for my ice cream maker, the pop maker has to be frozen ahead of time--about 24 hours ahead, to make sure it's completely frozen. I managed to make what I hope is a permanent spot for it in my freezer. Once the unit is frozen, you insert the sticks, pour in your popsicle mixture (2 ounces per pop) and wait 8-10 minutes. Voila! The first time we just tried it with some strawberry yogurt thinned with a little milk to make it pourable. I had a little trouble getting those out--not sure if I left them in too long, if the mixture wasn't right, or if it was just because it was the first batch. Since then, I haven't had any trouble. For the second round, we just used some orange and grape juice (not together!). It's so cool that you can go from wanting to make an ice pop to eating one in ten minutes!
For the latest round, I was inspired by one of the ice cream flavors I made recently. It was for Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Ice Cream from my latest cookbook. (Yes, I'm obsessed. How could you tell?) It calls for roasting sliced strawberries in the oven (with sugar) and making a purée which is then added to the ice cream base. I made the ice cream, and found that it had a mild strawberry flavor. I wanted to increase the amount of strawberry, so when I put the freshly churned ice cream into a freezer container, I layered in some of the extra purée. That wasn't the best idea, since the purée ends up kind of icy--though it's an interesting contrast to the creamy texture of the ice cream. But as I was eating it, I thought that it would be great as a popsicle. So I made a double batch of the purée, chilled it thoroughly, and pulled out the Zoku. Since the girls weren't home when I made these, I put the finished pops in small ziploc bags and stored them in the freezer.
The verdict? Definitely a hit with the kiddos. Okay, with Brianna at least, since Gillian fell asleep in the car on the way home and hasn't tried one yet. =) It's hard to go wrong with strawberries and sugar. The purée also has some acid--in the form of lemon or lime juice--to perk it up. I'm sure we'll be making more popsicles with the purée, as well as coming up with other fun things to put in the Zoku. I've found a couple of lists to get us started, from Bon Appetit and Fine Cooking. If you'd like to try my strawberry ones, here's what I ended up doing. And stay tuned for more from Ice Cream Week! (which may end up being more than a week, at the rate I'm going)
Roasted Strawberry Purée
(adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home)
680 grams (24 ounces) fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into thick slices
140 grams (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
juice of 2 limes (or lemons, if you prefer)
Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Place the strawberries in a 13"x9" glass baking dish. Sprinkle the sugar over the berries and gently mix the two together. Roast the strawberries for about ten minutes, until they are just tender. Transfer the strawberries and syrup to a tall, narrow container and add the lime juice. Purée with an immersion blender until smooth. Chill thoroughly before adding to ice cream base or making popsicles.
I made this double batch because I wanted a lot of purée to play around with. You can also halve the ingredients and roast the strawberries in an 8" square baking dish. You can also purée the mixture in a food processor or blender; I just didn't want to wash mine.
Note: This post was not sponsored in any way. I just happen to like the Zoku and wanted to tell you about my experiences with it.