On the hottest days of summer, there’s nothing better than a good icy ice cream – in theory, anyway. In reality, they can be a bit meh, more like a barely flavored ice cream stick that immediately melts into a watery mess on your hands.
But here’s an idea: what if you could make delicious popsicles yourself? And if they were beautiful too? What if they were even…cute?
Below are instructions for making the bear appear in the lower left and notes on how The New York Times for Kids created the other animals you see here. But these are really just suggestions to spark your imagination. Once you master the basic recipes and techniques, feel free to go wild.
Basic recipe options
(Each basic recipe makes 6 pops.)
In a blender, blend 2 bananas with 1 ½ cups vanilla yogurt or milk until smooth.
Blend 1 ½ cups frozen or fresh fruit (like strawberries, mango chunks or raspberries) with 1 cup vanilla yogurt and 1 banana until smooth.
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER
Mix 2 bananas with ⅓ cup peanut butter, 1 cup milk or vanilla yogurt, and 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder until smooth.
1 batch of vanilla-banana base (see recipe above)
8 baby spinach
Popsicle molds and sticks
For the characteristics: Mini Nilla wafers, almond slices, large black nonpareils (or mini chocolate chips)
1 set aside about a tablespoon of the base to use as “glue” for your bear’s face later.
2. Mix ⅓ of the vanilla-banana base with baby spinach in a blender to make an extra green base. (You won’t taste the spinach!)
3. Pour green base into each popsicle mold, filling each about one-third full.
4. Put the molds in the freezer and freeze for one hour. (Note: Keep the vanilla-banana base in the refrigerator during this time.)
5. After one hour, take the molds out of the freezer, stir the vanilla-banana mixture well and fill the molds to the end.
6. Put mold lids and insert an ice cream stick in the center of each mold.
7. Put the molds in the freezer and freeze for four hours or more, until they are completely solid.
8. Unmold your pops: Place a wax paper-lined baking sheet in the freezer. Quickly run the molds under lukewarm water and, as you remove each pop, place it in the freezer on the plate.
9. Decorate your pops: Line a second baking sheet with waxed paper and place on ice packs, if available. One at a time, take the popsicles out of the freezer, place them on the foil and use dabs of the reserved base to “stick” onto the bear’s facial features. (Use the toothpick to poke holes for the eyes and for the nose before gluing the nonpareils.) Return each finished pop to the sheet in the freezer.
10. Leaving pops them in the freezer for a few minutes to freeze on functionality. So serve immediately!
Base: Fruit base (strawberries)
Features: Nonpareils, nuggets, marshmallows
To note: To make the bunny’s white belly: Before filling the mold, cut a marshmallow in half and place one half ⅓ side down in the mold, with the sticky cut side against the inside of the mold. Place the mold in the freezer on its side and freeze for an hour before filling it with the strawberry base.
Bases: Chocolate Peanut Butter; vanilla-banana (halve the recipe)
Features: Chocolate covered pretzels, mini chocolate chips, almond slices
Base: Fruit base (mango); stir in ¼ cup mini chocolate chips before pouring into molds
Features: Mini marshmallows (cut in half, sticky side ”glued” to burst); large black nonpareils (for the eyes); mini chocolate chips (for the ears)
Bases: vanilla-banana; chocolate-peanut butter (halve recipe)
Features: Sprinkle eyes, slivered almonds, toasted coconut flakes, sunflower seeds
Bases: Fruit base (raspberries); vanilla-banana base (halve the recipe)
Features: Banana chips, almond slices, pumpkin seeds
To note: To create stripes, layer your bases, freezing for an hour between coats.
Scenographer: Andrea Stanley
This article originally appeared in the June issue of The New York Times for Kids. Find the section in your newspaper this Sunday, June 26 (and the last Sunday of each month).