From great syrup, great popsicles
No one really needs a recipe for popsicles. Pour something sweet and fluid into a mold or cup, stick in a skewer, and freeze.
Still, we all know a really great popsicle when we meet one, and the difference between the go-to orange juice carton, frozen, and ice pops with fresh fruit is like that of toaster pizza to Brooklyn’s finest.
While making popsicles involves waiting out the hard freeze, you can jump start the whole process by having a few things on hand: frozen or fresh fruit, simple syrup, and popsicle sticks. And the bonus of A Popsicle Pantry is that the very same ingredients used to satisfy kids on a hot day, give us a leg up on cool cocktails at night.
It all starts with simple syrup.
Step into a coffee shop charging premium rates for iced coffee and you’ll find among the beverage condiments a squirt bottle with clear syrup inside. This is simple syrup, equal parts sugar and water, heated until combined. Simple syrup is a staple in the professional pastry kitchen. At Purple Kale Kitchenworks, it is one of our main pastry supports--a good building block for making desserts generally, and particularly helpful for frozen ones. Much like olive oil to vinaigrette, it offers body to a fruit sauce. It sweetens as well as softens sorbets, turning the most watery fruit, which would otherwise freeze icy and hard, into something smooth and spoon-able.
An ideal base for infusion, simple syrup itself takes on any number of flavors, and it is quick and easy to make: heat the syrup, add the extra ingredients, and steep to cool. Variety is limited only by what you have on hand: fennel fronds or allspice berries, black peppercorns; bunches of fresh mint or rosemary, or a slice of fresh ginger; a little lemon juice and peel, or a few slices of rhubarb; a favorite loose tea or some spoonsful of coffee beans.
You can make a batch of syrup for the summer season. It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator, for the duration and beyond, an invitation to a cool, sweet, homemade snack, and much deserved summer cocktail.
This recipe relies on a more or less precise ratio of concentrated watermelon juice—which you make--to simple syrup. The concentration of juice helps both flavor and texture and is worth the extra step. It is impossible, of course, to guess precisely how much juice any fruit holds, though I’ve estimated that one small, seedless melon will yield about what you’d need for this recipe. If your watermelon is large and yields considerably more juice, reduce all of it by half and freeze any that remains for future use.
Makes 6 small popsicles
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 (1/2-inch) piece of dried or fresh ginger, washed or peeled, and sliced thinly
12 ounces concentrated watermelon juice*
Combine water, sugar, and ginger in small saucepan. Bring just to a boil, ensuring the sugar dissolves completely, but without letting it color or reduce. Steep for 30 minutes, off heat, or until completely cool. Strain.
Combine ginger syrup with watermelon juice. Pour into popsicle molds.
*Place 24 ounces of watermelon juice (from about 1 small, seedless melon) into a small, heavy-bottom pot and reduce by half. Cool.
The Ad-Hoc Watermelon Cocktail
Muddle a bunch of fresh mint at the bottom of a glass. Thaw one popsicle directly on top. Add vodka to taste, a couple of ice cubes, and a splash of seltzer.
Ronna of Purple Kale Kitchenworksis full of great ideas for parents who love food but need a little inspiration. If you like me have had your spirit broken by a combo of kids with food allergies, picky kids with food allergies, and post homework dinner preparation, a.k.a the Batan Dinner March,o or any combo of those factors and others, you may wish to check it out. Have a look at Purple Kale Kitchenworks or her blog, 2 Minutes to Dinner.