Helpful Hints and Recipes to Enhance your Kitchen Experience
Two summers ago, my mother came to visit me, just before the birth of my youngest son, and brought me something called a Zoku Pop Maker from her store, a very cool tool for creating frozen pops in nine minutes. It is the best present I ever got. Since then, as soon as summer season begins (in Israel immediately after Pesach), we take out our Zoku “machine”, and I make fresh, nutritious popsicles for the kids every day for when they come home from school. One of my kids complains that her friends come just for the popsicles! When the school season starts again, it goes away until next summer, to keep things exciting. My mother asked me to share some of my favorite recipes, tricks and tips, so here you go!
My son is allergic to dairy, so my popsicles are all pareve (and that way I can serve them as dessert for Shabbos lunch, too). I try very hard to keep my during-the-week popsicles sugar free, so I can give them out freely without guilt! My sweetener of choice is dried date purée. I prefer this over honey, agave nectar, fruit concentrate or silan (date syrup) (and of course over artificial sweeteners), because it actually contains the entire fruit , not just concentrated sugar. When puréed adequately it is very smooth, and when mixed into foods, it has no aftertaste at all and has a very pleasant, neutral taste. You can make your own by processing 1 pound/500 grams of dried dates (make sure to remove pits and check for infestation by holding both sides to a strong light source) with a half cup of water until utterly smooth, either in a food processor or with an immersion blender (a bit messier). You can use cup for cup as you would sugar. Using date purée will give your fruit pops a sorbet-like consistency and add creaminess to ice-cream-style pops.
Note: If you want to get a little fancier, these make a great outside layer for creamsicle-style Core Pops, where the liquid inside is siphoned off as soon as the outside freezes with a special Zoku siphon or with a straw, and then filled with a vanilla flavored mixture. (In my house, these would be for Shabbos only!)
Play around with any fruit or fruit juice you may have on hand. The principle is: Fill your measuring cup half to three quarters with fruit or fruit juice, add some date purée, some lemon if too sweet, and water to reach desired quantity. Blend, pour and freeze. Some of the things I’ve tried are kiwi, concord grape juice, apricots, nectarines, mango, and even watermelon. You play around with the proportions. Less fruit/juice with more water, date and lemon can be more economical while still maintaining a very authentic, fruity taste. Be creative and have fun!
You can also layer this mixture with the chocolate fudge recipe, for a striped pop, but replace almond butter with natural peanut butter. Really delicious! This is what I ate for 24 hours after I had my wisdom tooth removed!