Every one enjoys an Icy Pop in summer, kids and adults alike. But this summer the thing to enjoy is a Boozy Pop. An adults only treat, these specialties are sophisticated combinations of fruit and some very fancy liquors. Boozy Pops are hot – they are even trending on Twitter.
Nothing can beat the fresh fruit that is available in Summer. Perfectly plump blueberries, jewel like blackberries, melons galore and chin-dripping watermelon – there is no end. I selected blueberries for one recipe and watermelon for another.
And for the liquor, nobody does it like the Italians; from Aperol to Zucca, and all points in between, Italian liquors are my favorite. Knowing I had to narrow the field, I settled on grappa to go with the blueberries. And not just any Grappa. I went for the finest Italy has to offer, Nardini. I used their Mandorla, smooth as glass with the taste of bitter almond and a dry finish of dark sweet cherries. It is the perfect complement to the fruit. For more info, recipes and a downloadable Grappa Handbook visit Nardini’s website, I Love Grappa (www.IloveGrappa.com)
For the other Ice Pop I selected the Summer’s quintessential fruit, watermelon. To it I added Solerno and Aperol. Solerno is a fragrant liqueur made of Sicilian blood oranges and lemons, and Aperol is one of Italy’s most popular liquors. The orange notes of these liquors marry beautifully with the watermelon.
Pop making is simple. To begin, puree the fruit in a food mill, blender or food processor fitted with the metal knife. If you prefer a bit of texture, use a food mill. Blenders and food processors puree completely, reducing the fruit to what is essentially a juice. They are the tool of choice if you are looking for a smooth puree.
Next add simple syrup (recipe below) and flavorings to the puree, and combine well. Pour into the molds. Insert sticks, and place the mold on a level shelf in your freezer. Leave for 8 hours or even better, overnight. The colder the freezer stays, the more quickly they will freeze and the better the texture will be.
To unmold the Icy Pops, very briefly run hot water over the sides of the mold, two compartments at a time, and gently lift the pops out. Lift them out one by one, and if they offer any resistance, run a bit more water over the mold. Quickly wrap in plastic or place in food safe cello bags, and return wrapped pops to the freezer.
Once you get started with this, every fruit in the market and every liquor bottle on the shelf will beckon you for your own original creations. Make some Icy Pops and cool off in Summer 2016 fashion.
Blueberry and mandorla popsicles
By using a food mill fitted with the medium disk, I was able to achieve just the texture I was after – a bit of chew and a slightly icy character. For perfectly smooth pops, puree in the food processor and strain. To strain, set a large strainer over a bowl. With a spatula press the puree through the strainer, leaving the seeds behind in the strainer. This step takes a bit of time, but is well worth the effort and is the only method for removing seeds from a puree. You will lose a bit of volume, so I suggest you add 1/4 cup additional blueberries to the total amount if you are going to strain the puree.
•20 ounces blueberries, rinsed and picked over
•1/2 cup simple syrup
•3 tablespoons Nardini Mandorla
•1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pass blueberries through medium disk of food mill. Continue using the mill until all the blueberries and their skins have been processed to yield between 2 and 2 1/4 cups puree. Transfer mixture to a 4 cup measure with a spout. Add simple syrup, Mandorla and lemon juice. Stir gently to combine. Taste, adjusting flavoring as needed. Pour into molds. Insert sticks, and freeze 8 hours or overnight.
•2 1/4 cups seedless watermelon puree
•1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons simple syrup
•3 tablespoons Solerno
•3 tablespoons Aperol
Pour all ingredients into a 4 cup measuring cup with spout. Stir gently to combine. Taste, adjusting flavoring as needed. Pour into molds. Insert sticks, and freeze 8 hours or overnight.
makes about 1 1/4 cups
•1 cup water
•1 cup granulated sugar
Over medium heat combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Swirl pan occasionally until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a full, rolling boil. Remove from heat, and transfer to a glass container. Set aside to cool. Cover and refrigerate up to one week.
Pop molds are available at Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma and Amazon. Nardini Mandorla Grappa, Solerno and Aperol are sold at Wally’s Wine (www.wallywine.com) in Westwood, California and other fine stores.