July 5, 2011

On a Stick

I really don't know where it came from - these fantasies of popsicles I kept having - it just started one day and hasn't let go since.  It's summertime, and the weather was warm and perfect all weekend (!) so it would seem normal to want popsicles, but unless you live with me you have no idea how out of control this craving has been recently. 

There was the time where D humored my sick whining insistence for the perfect popsicle by driving to several stores in one trip, only to have me reject them all because they weren't "the one".  Then there's the world's cutest popsicle cart, Viva Pops, at the Little Italy Mercato on Saturdays that I always  manage to wait too long to grab their newest creative flavor (blackberry violet cream anyone?) and it's gone for the day.

I am a woman, obsessed.

So a few weeks ago I hopped over to Amazon and bought myself a brand new ice pop mold, wooden sticks and clear cellophane bags in anticipation of sharing my obsession with others.  Now I can make 10 pops at a time!  In my own freezer!  And did you see how perfect they look?  Those ridges that run up the broad sides and the slightly tapered rectangular shape?  I'm smitten.

The first round of flavors was strawberry basil and lavender honey cream; a half batch of each because a girl needs options.  One sweet and dripping with ripe strawberry flavor, slightly tinged with an herby basil note.  The other perfumed with flowers and milky sweetness.

I meant to get this out to all of you before the long holiday weekend started, but suffice it to say that I was busy making more of these concoctions and enjoying them instead.  No matter, there is an entire summer's worth of opportunity ahead of us.

Strawberry Basil Pops

The basil in these is just the barest hint, but I wouldn't leave it out.  If you want more basil flavor, I think it would be worth it to try them with very thin slivers of basil stirred in by hand after you're done pureeing the mixture.  Although strawberries are quite sweet on their own, the addition of the simple syrup, while also adding the flavor of basil, keeps the pop sfrom becoming too icy.

makes about 8 3-ounce pops 

2 pints ripe red strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lightly packed basil leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a sauce pan heat sugar, water and basil leaves until the sugar dissolves and the syrup starts to bubble.  Using the back of a wooden spoon bruise the basil in the pan to release more of its oils.  Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes or until it cools to room temperature.

Once the syrup has cooled strain into blender and add the strawberries and lemon juice.  Pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth, but with a few chunks still remaining.  Pour into popsicle molds, insert popsicle sticks and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Honey-Lavender-Cream Pops
recipe from Pleasant Pops via Washingtonian

You should love the flavor of lavender if you're going to make these.  To some lavender tastes like bath products or soap, to me it's like a bouquet of flowers that is at once floral and herbaceous.  Also, stick with the whole milk, otherwise your pops may turn out too icy. 

makes about 10 3-ounce pops

3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender flowers
1/4 cup organic cane sugar or granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey

In a medium saucepan, bring all the ingredients to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat as soon as it boils. Let the mixture steep, covered with the lid, for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the flowers.

Pour the mixture into the molds, insert popsicle sticks and freeze overnight or according to manufacturer's instructions.

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