Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quiescently Frozen

Let's make some popsicles!

But before we do, let's travel back in time to the '90s, when AB was a bb.

I remember going to the supermarket with my parents and staring at the phrase printed on every tub of ice cream and box of ice pops: "Quiescently Frozen Confection." What did it mean? It sounded like a magic spell. Then came adulthood, Google, and the reduction of magic to mundane facts. It turns out that "quiescently frozen confection" is a a legal term guaranteeing that a food product contains a certain percentage of milk solids and a certain combination of ingredients. (If you scan the phrase as you would a line of poetry, it's a trio of amphibrachs: short-long-short, short-long-short, short-long-short.) "Quiescent" simply means "stationary," and indicates that the product hasn't been stirred or shaken during the freezing process. But despite knowing all this, I still feel a childish thrill whenever I see the phrase. The magic of language! And of sugar.

Sometimes my mother and I would make our own popsicles, using a set of plastic molds she had bought in Denmark. The handles were little pastel koalas: blue, pink, yellow, and green. We'd pour orange juice into two of the molds and apple juice into the other two, and that was it. Orange juice tasted better, but apple juice was more refreshing, or so it seemed to me at the age of six.

Twenty summers later, I can't log into Pinterest without coming across a popsicle recipe. But compared to my childhood juice pops, the 21st-century versions are diabolically complicated. I blame the Internet (always a vehicle of complication) for the recent proliferation of pistachio-encrusted bourbon-infused mango-lemon-cheesecake popsicles embedded with jalapeño mochi. I mean, where does it end? How many subordinate clauses can you fit into a three-ounce mold? In my opinion, a homemade popsicle with more than five ingredients is an abomination. Don't get me wrong, I'll eat a popsicle with more than five ingredients, and I'll almost certainly enjoy it. But I'll know, deep down, that my enjoyment is impure.

All this is to say that yesterday, the hottest day of the year so far, I tried my hand at coconut-lime creamsicles.

I used three ingredients, but had I thought of it, I would have added two more: rum (because what doesn't it improve?), and lime zest for color. As it is, the popsicles are an exact match for my apartment walls:

Yeah, this is why I'm not a food blogger.

I use these popsicle molds, which I bought last summer when my mother and I made our annual pilgrimage from San Francisco to the IKEA in East Palo Alto. There's a closer one across the bay in Emeryville, but my mother refuses to drive on the Bay Bridge, and I can't drive at all (shame). So every summer we head south for an hour on Highway 101, ending up here:

It is in fact hell on earth, complete with disembodied clone-baby heads. On the plus side: $1.99 popsicle molds. Better yet, each mold is detachable from the frame, meaning that you can wrench out a single popsicle without disturbing its fellows.

So, the recipe. I should warn you that this quantity made just shy of six popsicles--something like five and a third. It was very frustrating, because I'd gotten the flavor exactly right after several tries and I didn't want to throw off the proportions with more coconut milk or lime juice. I don't know what to say, people. You might have better luck than I did, or you might be less obsessive about proportions. Probably both.

Coconut-Lime Creamsicles

1/4 cup lime juice (I used three and a half limes, reserving the last half for a gin and tonic)
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. sweetened condensed milk

Throw everything in a food processor, blend, adjust ad libitum, freeze in popsicle molds for about six hours.

If this isn't to your taste, here are some other delicious-looking popsicle recipes I've found around the interwebs. Some of them have more than five ingredients (horror). You'll notice that my popsicle preferences tend toward the creamy; anything else just feels like a waste of freezer real estate. With a few exceptions, of course.

Vietnamese Coffee Pops
Butterscotch Pudding Popsicles (I made these last summer, and they were delicious, though richer than I like popsicles to be)
Green Tea Coconut Popsicles (look at that COLOR)
Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles
Mango Lassi Popsicles
Cucumber Watermelon Popsicles ("I can now dip a popsicle in a cup of vodka or gin if I’m having a rough day cuz I’M GROWN.")
Fudge Popsicles
Plus, 33 popsicle recipes collated by Buzzfeed, which turns out to be good for something after all.

Have a good Fourth, if you're celebrating! I wish I could say I have exciting plans, but I'm probably just going to sit around drinking mojitos. I have a rich inner life, you see.


  1. Happy 4th to you, too!
    Thank you for sharing this simple yet wonderful recipe along the others.
    I would have buy a set of popsicle molds first, but your recipe sounds so delicious that I really want to try. Vietnamese coffee pops sounds appealing to me as well, because I'm a coffee addict. ;p
    I often half-freeze Italian soda then mix with Grey Goose. I love adding a little bit of Bacardi in my watermelon smoothie, too.

    1. You should definitely buy some popsicle molds! They're usually very cheap. I've considered buying an ice-cream maker, too, but being able to make ice cream at will would be very dangerous for me...

      Rum and watermelon sounds like an amazing combination! And I happen to have both on hand right now. :D

  2. We made ice blocks (the kiwi/probablybritish word, since Popsicles were an actual brand) at home with frozen juice too! :-D Just juice. Literally, the brand of juice is called Just Juice. :-P

    As to the Pinterest Popsicles, I LOL'd. There may even have been ROLF-ing, because you speak the truth. When you're competing for online attention, nothing is sacred, I guess ;-). Not that I wouldn't try the (hypothetical, I hope) ones you describe. Although, getting your teeth through the mochi while trying to maintain structural integrity in a rapidly melting popsicle sounds like the stuff of hilarious Japanese gameshows... ;-)

    1. Believe it or not, I actually found a recipe for mochi popsicles on someone's blog! Just, like, popsicles studded with mochi. It's the sort of thing that seems brilliant for about five seconds, until you actually imagine eating it. I love mochi as much as the next Japanophile, but come on.

      "Ice blocks," huh? I've never heard that one, but I like it! "Ice lollies" is the phrase that seems most common in Britain. "Popsicle" is indeed a brand name, but we Americans are very happy to let commercial brand names infiltrate our everyday discourse...

  3. My comment disappeared! Apologies if you get three different versions of this comment.
    "Ice lollies" reminds me of this Black Books episode:

  4. I've just had my friend's hens' weekend (another Commonwealth term, I believe), and we drank a lot of pina coladas. This sounds like a dessert version of that. Of course, it's freezing here, but I get a perverse pleasure out of eating ice cream etc in bed with the heater blazing.

    1. That's one of my favorite Commonwealthisms! (In Britain it's more often "hen night.") I love pina coladas, too. I want to try making a version of these popsicles with pineapple juice and rum...