If you’ve been on Pinterest recently, you’ve probably run across the beautiful photos of ice pops that have been making the rounds recently. With fresh fruit popping out of the sides, they look healthy and delicious, so I started clicking to get some recipes. Every one mentioned getting your our Zoku. Since I’m always up on the latest cool gadgets, I Googled “What is a Zoku?” and found out it’s an “instant” ice pop maker.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m susceptible to advertising and beautiful pictures, so I immediately wanted one…. the I did the research.
The single Zoku makes one ice pop in 8-10 minutes and cost about $26. Now yes, that’s instantly frozen, so that’s quick, but I had visions of my 2 other kids screaming for the 8-10 minutes while I made theirs or me attempting to make a dozen to keep in the freezer. It didn’t sound fun. There’s also a Zoku duo ($36.99) and a Zoku ($49.95) that makes 3 ice pops at a time. And then there is the tool kit ($19.99), extra sticks ($11.99), storage case ($19.99), and character kit ($14.99). When all said and done, I figured the first three ice pops I made would be some pretty expensive ice pops and we all know I’m
cheap frugal. Now there is a less expensive version from Hamilton Beach for only $32, but it has horrible reviews across the internet.
I also found out that you can’t use the Zoku to make sugar-free ice pops. And, even though it makes one ice pop in 8-10 minutes, you have to freeze the entire Zoku in your freezer for 24 hours before using it, plus refrozen between batches if you take too much time making them pretty.
I got it into my head that I could make those beautiful fruit ice pops without a Zoku. The tricky part was getting the fruit to stick to the side of the ice pop mold and getting it to stay there while I poured in the juice, but I’m happy to say I succeeded!
What you’ll need:
- Popsicle Molds
- Cutting Board
- Lemon Juice
- Small Knifes and/or Cookie Cutters
- Ingredients (juices, liquids, yogurt, pudding, honey, fresh fruit, etc…)
How to get started:
If you plan to use fruit, which is completely optional, the first thing you’ll need to do is pour a little water into each slot of the ice pop molds and then pour it out. Next, set them on their side in the freezer while you cut the fruit. Put the side you plan to put the fruit on down.
The goal here isn’t to get them soaked, but to create a very thin layer of ice along one wall that will act as an adhesive to the fruit. Even if you can’t see the water, there are droplets that will work perfectly.
While your thin layer of ice freezes, start getting creative with your fruit. Cut the fruit into thin (very thin) layers. Use a cookie cutter or small knife to cut them into shapes for the ice pops. Make sure to place them on the cutting board, since you’ll have to press hard on cookie cutters to cut through thicker fruits like pears. Of course, help small children. My 5 year old *thinks* she’s old enough to use a knife herself, but gets a bit too
wild creative if not guided.
While you get creative, place the cut pieces of fruit in a small bowl of lemon juice to soak, so the don’t turn brown. Plus, the lemon juice ads a light layer of liquid to the fruit to help it stick to the thin layer of ice currently freezing in the molds.
It’s time to get creative once again. Pull the mold out of the freezer and place it on it’s side the same way you had it in the freezer. Slide your fruit in the molds. Lay them flat against the side that’s down. You can create designs, like my daughter did, or simply lay them in there, like I did. Put them back in the freezer, fruit-side down, while you whip up your ice pop bases.
Since this entire thing is really about creativity, it’s time to get creative again. The best part about whipping up ice pop bases is that you get to taste them. In fact, I encourage it, because the way they taste now is exactly the way they’ll taste when they are frozen, just a bit colder. So, you can decide now if they need more vanilla or orange juice. Remember, less is more. You can always add more ingredients, but it’s a bit harder to fix if you add too much of one.
Here’s a few recipes we loved from our batch:
Normally, I’d simply make one or, maybe, two flavors of ice pops, but I was on a mission here, so I went crazy.
Cookies & Cream Ice Pops (makes about 4 ice pops)
You can use this recipe, minus the cookies, as a vanilla base for many other ice pop recipes. It’s delicious, even without the cookies!
- 1 Vanilla Pudding or Yogurt Cup (or about 4 ounces)
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1-2 TBSP Sugar
- 1/2 TBSP Vanilla Extract
- 2-3 Oreo or Sandwich Cookies
- Pour the vanilla pudding and water into a small bowl and mix until well belnded.
- Add the vanilla extract and 1 TBSP of sugar, and whisk together.
- Taste to see if you need more sugar and add, then whisk if necessary.
- Place the cookies into a sandwich bag and seal, then take out your inner aggressions on them, by smashing them to bits.
- Alternate pouring cookie bits and your vanilla base into the mold for a layered look of mix them all together and fill the mold.
Coffee Creamsicles (makes about 4 ice pops)
You can add a bit of powdered sugar, caramel syrup, or hazelnut creamer (liquid or powder) to this recipe to make flavored coffee creamsicles.
- 1/2 cup Extra-Strong Coffee
- 1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream (can substitute vanilla pudding or yogurt)
- 1/2-1 TBSP Sugar (optional)
- First make extra-strong coffee. I used the Nescafe samples I got FREE and just used half the water for a quick solution.
- Next whisk together the coffee and cream in a small bowl.
- Taste and if needed, add sugar 1/2 TBSP at a time until it reaches your desired sweetness.
- Pour into your ice pop molds.
Strawberry Yogurt Creamsicles (makes about 4 ice pops)
Of course, you could use straight yogurt, but that’s not as much fun (and doesn’t have the same creamy result).
- 1 Strawberry Yogurt Cup (or about 4 ounces)
- 1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1/2-1 TBSP Sugar (optional)
- Whisk together the yogurt and whipping cream in a small bowl.
- Add sugar, if needed, a little bit at a time until it reaches your desired sweetness.
- Pour into your ice pop molds.
- This goes great with bits of banana, strawberry, berries, or even orange or lemon slices on the side or mixed into the base.
Orange Dreamsicles (makes about 4 ice pops)
- 1 cup Orange Juice
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2-4 drops Orange Extract or Orange Essential Oil
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 TBSP Honey (optional)
- Whisk together the orange juice, whipping cream, and extracts.
- You may add honey, but it does add a bit of honey taste to the dreamsicle, so it depends on your tastes.
- Pour into your ice pop molds.
- This goes great with bananas, oranges, lemon, strawberries, or lime bits.
You can also use straight juice or mix your juices for a new flavor. I’ve seen ice pops with nuts, crushed candy, and many other fun ingredients layered into the base. Once your bases are done, it’s time to pour them into your molds. You can even use light bits of alcohol for adult ice pops, but don’t use too much or they won’t freeze.
Just avoid soda, because it expands while freezing, overflowing out of the mold and gets a flat taste. Well, unless you like flat soda. Then make sure it’s flat before freezing.
Pull the molds out of the freezer and make sure your fruit sticks to the side when you stand them upright. Now, you have to pour the liquid into the molds and avoid pouring it straight onto the fruit, since it could loosen it’s grip. I used disposable cups and pressed the end into a spout, but any thing that will pour a small stream works. Pour against the opposite side of the fruit.
You can fill your molds with one flavor or create stripes by pouring one, then letting it sit in your freezer for about 10-20 minutes to lightly freeze. You can place something under one end to tilt your ice pop mold to one side to create diagonal stripes. I simply placed an upside down small plastic container under one end. Or, sit it flat to create straight stripes. Once your first layer is lightly frozen, very gently pour the next layer into the mold. Gently is the key here, since it avoids breaking the lightly frozen layer separating it from the first and causing splashes up the side. Then, and let it sit in the freezer to freeze. If your layers mix together, you either didn’t let the first layer freeze enough or poured the second layer too quickly. Repeat until you finish all your layers.
Once your done designing your ice pops, stick in the sticks before they freeze too hard. Then, leave them in the freezer overnight or until frozen solid. Mine typically freeze in about 8-11 hours, but it depends on how cold your freezer gets, ingredients, and how big your ice pops will be.
Sit your frozen ice pops in the mold in a room-temperature or slightly warm bath (or bowl of water) to lightly thaw them from the sites. Gently turn the sticks to turn the ice pop in the mold to loosen it. If it’s too hard to turn, let it sit a bit longer. Once the turn, gently pull up to to release your ice pop. Be very patient (and gentle) to avoid breaking sticks.
While it takes 24 hours to freeze your Zoku plus 8-10 minutes to make one ice pop, I had 28 done in less than 11 hours. I’ll admit. Mine weren’t perfect or as pretty as those pictures on Pintrest, but I learned a lot on my first try, especially about creating layers, so I’m sure my second attempt will be even better (and look even prettier). But, they were amazing where it counted – taste. In fact, my kids say they are the best ice pops they’ve ever enjoyed and are already asking when we can make more, even though we aren’t anyway near done with the first batch.
You can put your ice pops into individual sandwich bags, like wrappers, to clean and reuse your molds while keeping the ice pops safe from frost bite in your freezer.
And, in true frugal fashion, use the left over mangled pieces of fruit to make fruit salad for dinner or a healthy snack.
Have a favorite ice pop recipe or favorite ice pop flavor? Let us know!
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