To make a popsicle, all you need is a container to freeze your popsicle base – which could be anything from pudding to fruit juice – and a stick. Popsicle molds have been popping up in all kinds of new shapes and sizes over the past few years, and you can find them in classic shapes and funky ones, such as robots. The standard popsicle stick, on the other hand, is a short, flat stick with rounded ends that has gone almost unchanged for decades. One popsicle maker decided to put a twist on a traditional popsicle by making the stick even more interesting than the pop itself.
The Lollypop Men set comes with a mold to make four complete popsicles with stick figure sticks. The sticks themselves are made of plastic, so they can be washed and reused for many different popsicle batches. The mold makes relatively small popsicles to keep the stick figure proportions right, but the cute factor (and shorter freezing time) will keep your mind off of that. You will, however, have to track down a bag of more traditional popsicle sticks at an art store if it turns out you need them for any arts-and-crafts school projects in the future.
Popsicle lovers have all probably seen the Zoku Quick Pop maker by now, a neat gadget that churns out multiple batches of popsicles in a very short period of time. The pop maker is pricey, and so are the accessory sets that are available for it. It gets great reviews, but the cost might not make it worth the investment unless you really love your popsicles! As stores (Target, specifically) were clearing out their summer inventory, I saw a popsicle maker by Hamilton Beach that promised a similar delivery to the Zoku, but at a much lower price (and discounted, too) and I wanted to see how it performed.
The Hamilton Beach FastPop Gourmet Pop Maker makes two popsicles at a time and promises that you can make up to three batches of popsicles without needing to refreeze the base. The base needs to be frozen at least 12 hours in advance, and is designed to retain the cold for an extended period of time – thus allowing you to freeze pop after pop. It comes with reusable metal popsicle “sleeves,” which make the pops easy to remove after freezing, several sticks and funnels/bases that hold the sticks upright while the pops freeze. It makes very traditional looking, single popsicles, rather than the wider and flatter pops that the Zoku puts out.
Still on a robot kick from playing with a stackable set of Robo Measuring Cups, I couldn’t resist pointing out Cuisipro Robot Ice Pop Molds, which make a set of six robot-shaped popsicles. I am a fan of the Cuisipro popsicle molds in general, and these are no exception. Made of sturdy plastic, the popsicles snap into a tray that holds them perfectly upright as they freeze, ensuring that you get an evenly frozen popsicle. The robots are fairly wide compared to most other popsicle designs, but the stick has a built-in drip guard that should help contain any mess that results as the robot defrosts (especially in the hands of kids who might be playing with their robot as they eat!). As fun as the robots are, my favorite thing about these molds are the sticks themselves. Each one has a gear design on the end that goes into the popsicle and a wrench shape on the handle side. It’s those little details that take these pops over the top and make them really fun to fill and eat.
Who doesn’t like a creamsicle on a hot summer day? The ice cream-filled orange popsicle is a favorite summertime treat for many people – and this is that classic popsicle in cupcake form. These Creamsicle Ice Cream Cupcakes are orange cupcakes that are filled with vanilla bean ice cream and topped with a zesty orange glaze. Like their popsicle namesakes, these are stored in the freezer and ready to serve as a cool treat on a hot day or any other time that a creamsicle craving hits!
The cupcakes are easy to make and turn out to be moist and tender. I used both butter and vegetable oil in the cake, as cakes made with vegetable oil tend to stay a little bit moister after being frozen. Freshly squeezed orange juice is going to give you the best flavor in these cupcakes, and by freshly squeezing the oranges you’ll also have plenty of zest to further boost the flavor. If you don’t have oranges at hand, you can use bottled orange juice. Again, try to go with fresh, not-from-concentrate juice for the best flavor even when using bottled juice. The cupcakes will still turn out well, but the orange flavor might be slightly subdued. To punch it up even further, add a bit of orange extract or a few drops of orange oil to the batter.
The finished cakes have a great combination of orange and vanilla flavors. When I hollowed out the cupcakes to fill them with ice cream, I tried to make as much room for the filling as possible. I also used a good quality vanilla bean ice cream, slightly softened, to fill them up. The glaze added some extra sweetness and brightness to the cakes, and really reminded me of the orange “shell” that makes up the outer layer of a creamsicle.
These cupcakes should be stored in the freezer and taken out shortly before serving. Once they are glazed, allow them to set up in the freezer for at least an hour. At that point, you can cover them with plastic wrap and they’ll keep for a week at the very least (probably quite a bit longer if you have a lot of self control!). The orange glaze gives you a nice burst of orange when you take a bite, and it sets up very nicely in the freezer without getting too hard. If you are in a hurry to dig in, just stuff the cupcakes with ice cream, top with a spoonful of glaze and serve right away!