Cantaloupe Strawberry Popsicles

by Gia26. July 2013 09:27

The cantaloupes in my garden were perfect last week, and then there was a strawberry sale at the supermarket (hence strawberries in August...), so I decided it would be the perfect time to try out one of our popsicle molds. When I was growing up, my father would make 'icees' by pouring fruit juice into dixie cups. Once frozen, we would scrape the tops with a metal spoon until there was a perfect mound of fruit-flavored 'snow' (and a few wax dixie cup shavings...). I had always thought that popsicle molds were just a little too fancy for us. Besides, the one time we did put wooden sticks into the dixie cups, they slid out of the middle before we could get the ice out from the sides - so disappointing.

Enter the perforated stick! These days, popsicle molds include a plastic stick that is perforated along the center, meaning that liquid will freeze inside of it and prevent it from sliding out of your popsicle while it melts. Genius! I used Star Popsicle Molds for this recipe. They're adorable, but I will probably need a bottle brush to properly clean them out, so if you want something you can fit a sponge into, I would go with the Groovy Popsicle Molds.

Now, you can put whatever you darn well please into a popsicle mold, but good old sweetened water (just like sorbet!) is the general beginnings. Pureed fruit or fruit juice works perfectly, so you really don't have to add extra sugar (in which case you may want to skip the ode-to-sucrose that is to come), but I am going to digress for a moment and talk about simple syrup.

I spend an inordinate amount of time in the summer preparing simple syrup. Yes, I acknowledge I have a sugar addiction - I'm working on it - but I consider simple syrup to be the non-oil answer to compound butter. Mix in some flavorings and it adds an instant boost to any beverage or frozen treat. An old Italian bakery trick is to sprinkle simple syrup between cake layers to keep them moist. The secret to the majority of flavored simple syrups is the lemon zest. Which brings me to my next point...

microplane_zesterSometimes we have a product that really honestly has no equal. One of those products is the Microplane zester. Microplane has a patented laser-cut zesting surface (originally produced for woodworking) that is perfectly angled and never gets dull. I've used so many other zesters and have not yet come across one that removes only the oily aromatic rind of the lemon without any of the pith (ok so a very adept barkeep can make perfect lemon zests with a cheap peeler but that takes a LOT of practice and a perfectly ripe lemon). 

 

This recipe is going to be a bit rough on the measurements because every popsicle mold has a different capacity and because I am not particularly good at recording what I do while I do it. 

  

Cantaloupe Strawberry Popsicles

One Ripe Cantaloupe
5-6 Strawberries, chopped
1 cup Water
1 cup Sugar
Fresh Mint Leaves
Lemon zest

  1. Combine water, sugar and lemon zest in a small saucepan over med-high heat. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves (ie: make simple syrup).
  2. Remove syrup from heat and add mint leaves. Cover and let sit 15 - 30 min.
  3. Strain lemon zest and mint leaves from syrup. Pour into sealable container and put in fridge/freezer to cool (your popsicles will work if the syrup isn't completely chilled, they'll just take longer to freeze). 
  4. Remove fruit from cantaloupe, chop and blend in a blender or food processor. I left mine kind of chunky since cantaloupe is so watery anyway, but you can process to your heart's content.
  5. Add about 1/4 cup of the lemon-mint simple syrup to the cantaloupe mixture - depending on the ripeness of your melon, you may want to add more or less. Remember that freezing makes things taste less sweet (cold numbs your taste buds). Leftover lemon-mint syrup is great in cocktails, homemade soda, and any other kind of frozen treat.
  6. Grab clean popsicles molds. Fill each one with about a tablespoon of the cantaloupe mixture. Add a few pieces of chopped strawberries, then another tablespoon of cantaloupe, and continue to alternate like this until you get to the top of the mold. Resist the urge to just fill the whole thing with strawberries and then pour in cantaloupe from the top - that will leave air bubbles in your popsicles that will turn into holes when they're frozen and make it more difficult to remove the popsicles from the mold whole. 
  7. Pop in your sticks and place your popsicles in the freezer. Freeze for 4-6 hours.

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Easy Elegance: Sorbet

by Gia5. July 2013 12:45
via flickr: joyosity

 

I'm a big fan of dishes that look really difficult and fancy but are actually absurdly easy. Sorbet is one of those dishes. Even the word sorbet sounds elegant and somehow exotic. Tell someone you're eating frozen sugar water and they'll scoff. Tell them it's sorbet, and they're impressed. Secret tip: they're the same thing!

All you need to make sorbet is water, sugar, and juice (ie: sugar water with vitamins). If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the mixture in a shallow pan and then break up the ice crystals with a fork every so often until the mixture has reached desired consistency (technically this is a granita, and you should use straight sugar instead of simple syrup or it may get kind of gloopy).

 

Do you really need an Ice Cream Maker? 
I have been devoted to ice cream since I was a small child, but I always though an ice cream maker would go the way of the bread machine - I'd use it once, then never again. Then, I received a Donvier Ice Cream Maker as a gift a few years back and whoa was I wrong. Here's the real magic of an ice cream maker: once you know the capacity of the cylinder (mine is 1 qt/4 cups), you can literally put anything into it. No recipe needed. Pick up your favorite juice/sugar water from the store, measure out the needed volume, and in 30 min (ish) you've got a really impressive homemade dessert (for CHEAP). Some tips I've picked up along the way:

  • Keep your cylinder in the freezer (and freeze for at least 24 hours between uses) so that its always ready to use.
  • Chill your liquid mixture for as long as you can, preferably for at least 12 hours, so that it is as cold as it can be when you put it in the cylinder.
  • If you're not using a recipe, add more sugar than you think you'd need. Cold foods desensitize your taste buds so you won't taste half the sugar you put into it once its frozen.
  • The frozen cylinder kind of ice cream maker is instant dinner party/antsy kid entertainment. The mixture sits in the cylinder for 2-5min, then you turn the paddle and scrape off the frozen bits so that more liquid can reach the cold cylinder walls to be frozen, then you scrape that off 2-5min later, and the cycle continues. Put it in the middle of a circle and have folks take turns - make up a game to go with it! The clear top lets you watch the magic unfold and it makes a great conversation piece/learning experience.

Now, getting to the actual inspiration for this post: Lemon Herb Sorbet. I made it for a July 4th potluck last week and hot dog it was delicious. Everyone was impressed, even though they watched me make it! I used rosemary for mine, which was absolutely divine, but you can use whatever fresh herbs you have access to (caveat: choose an herb that will steep well - basil would pair great with lemon but won't steep well so wouldn't be the best choice here). 

 

Lemon Herb Sorbet Recipe

(adapted from Joy of Cooking)

*Adjust water/sugar/lemon according to the capacity of your ice cream maker, if you are using one.

Ingredients:

1.5c Water
1.5c Sugar
4 lemons
Large sprig of Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, or Lavendar

  1. Zest one of the lemons into long strips. Chop the strips into smaller pieces (you will be removing these later, so don't make them too small). 
  2. Combine the water, lemon zest and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves (ie: make simple syrup). If you prefer a thicker syrup, let the mixture simmer for longer.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the herb sprig. Cover and let sit for 20-30min (depending on how strong you want the herb flavor to be).
  4. Juice all 4 lemons. Add juice to simple syrup mixture, cover, and let cool in refrigerator (for at least 1 hour - the colder the mixture is, the quicker it will set in the ice cream maker).
  5. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

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