I began this summer of accidental popsicle obsession by saying that growing up, we made popsicles by pouring orange juice (created with or without manual labor) into these molds, letting them freeze and eating them outside so we didn’t sticky up the kitchen floor. And yet, when I first bought my popsicles molds a year ago, did I put juice in them? No. I had to make things really, really complicated. Banana purees, Nutella and salted pistachios. Strawberries, lime, black pepper and sometimes white tequila. Key lime pie filling rolled in graham cracker crumbs. Butterscotch. Pudding. Pops.
It seems only right and proper that I end* Popsicle Week with a riff on the same frozen juice popsicle. But, you know, I couldn’t use just any juice, it had to be lemonade, which to me is the quintessential sitting at a picnic table in a beach town icy drink to slurp through a straw while being unable to consider a single other thing on this earth that previously felt urgent, as we did yesterday afternoon on our Maine vacation.
The thing is, for reasons I have yet to put a finger on (because it’s pretty?) pink lemonade is unequivocally better than regular lemonade. It just is. What’s less clear is what makes the lemonade pink. Well, in most cases, it’s Red Dye #40 or something, so excluding those, in our pink lemonade conversations (and can I tell you how much I love that this here is a space where we can have intense conversations about pink lemonade? more than words, people) several conclusions have been drawn: grenadine (the real stuff please, and not the corn syrup + food dye sadness that populates most grocery aisles), strawberries (delicious, but my experiments, even the reddest ones mostly yield a salmon-toned lemonade, which is just not the same) and, my favorite, raspberries, which are not only abundant in peak lemonade season of high summer but make the brightest red puree that quickly turns your lemonade hot pink, and makes it taste even better. Raspberry wins; hot pink wins. These popsicles are pure summer — tart and icy and gorgeous. They melt quickly and should be sent outside, just like us, while we still can.
* Tired of popsicles? Don’t worry, this is the last chapter in Popsicle Week. Need some dinner ideas from earlier in the summer? May I suggest: Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes, Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts, Burst Corn Galette with Corn and Zucchini, Avocado-Shrimp Salsa, Slow-and-Low Dry Rub Oven Chicken, Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw, Charred Corn Crepes (with a lot of different meal suggestions), or (hello!) a Grilled Bacon Salad with Arugula and Balsamic. And please don’t miss the One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes from July, because I think it’s one for the yearbook. Plus, there’s a whole Summer category in the archives, all geared towards warm-weather cooking and produce. Enjoy!
UK Book Tour: Just in case you missed it, last week I announced a UK book tour the other side of the pond (no big deal) (SUCH A big deal). Early details over here; more to come. [The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook UK Book Tour]
Pink Lemonade Popsicles
Yield: 10 1/3-cup or 3-ounce popsicles
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups water (1 cup can be very cold)
1 cup (about 5 ounces or 140 grams) fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup lemon juice (from approximately 7 to 8 lemons)
Heat sugar with 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan until sugar dissolves. Pour into large bowl, add remaining 1 cup cold water. Let cool, a process you can hasten along by setting it in a shallow bowl of ice water or placing it in the fridge (or freezer, but briefly) while you prepare the raspberries.
Meanwhile, puree raspberries in a food processor or blender until they’re as liquefied as possible. If you’re as irked by gritty raspberry seeds as I am, stir the puree through a fine-mesh sieve, trying to press out all the raspberry puree that you can, leaving the seeds behind. I ended up with 1/3 cup strained puree; don’t worry if you get a smidge less. If you’re unbothered by raspberry seeds, you can skip this sieving step.
Add raspberry puree and lemon juice to cold sugar-water mixture and stir until combined. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze as manufacturer suggests.More notes:
Popsicle molds: I use these guys. I have the metal version, which was all that was available when I bought them a couple years ago, but the metal parts are not dishwasher safe and don’t hold the popsicle sticks in place as well as I understand the plastic ones do, so if I were buying them again, I’d opt for plastic.
No popsicle molds? You could any kind of tiny cup to mold them instead, but my favorite is a champagne flute for shape; you could even use those disposable plastic ones. When the mixture is halfway frozen, insert a popsicle stick and now no retro popsicle mold needs to come between you and Popsicle Week.
To unmold: To unmold popsicles, dip the frozen molds in a warm bowl of water. I give them a tug every couple seconds to see if they’re loose yet because I don’t want to soften them any more thn absolutely necessary. If the stick comes out before the popsicle (boo!), they just weren’t frozen enough. You’ll want to freeze most popsicles for 5 to 6 hours, just to be certain they’re hard enough to unmold.
To store popsicles: Here’s how I do it: I put a tray in the freezer and cover it with waxed or parchment paper, just long enough for it to get cold. I unmold all of the popsicles and place them on the tray, and refreeze them for 10 minutes out of their molds before putting them in a freezer bag. This extra step ensures that any melting/softening that happens when you unmold them doesn’t mess up their shapes or cause them to stick to one another. You can also separate them in their freezer bags by extra strips of waxed or parchment paper. Then you can wash the molds and use them again for everything you may have missed this week.