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Ice Pop Recipe: Create Your Own

Every town in Mexico has at least one paleteria—ice pop store—and as a kid, I’d indulge in their fruity, refreshing paletas practically every week. These were definitely not your average ice pops; the flavors were incredible, combining a wide array of fruits, herbs, and spices. Once I grew up, I discovered that these delicious treats are easy to make at home; all it takes is a few fresh ingredients, some inexpensive molds, and some time to kill while the pops freeze.

The method is straightforward. First, boil some sugar and water to make a simple syrup. If you like, spice it up with your choice of flavoring, from familiar cinnamon or vanilla to unexpected chile or lemongrass. Combine the syrup with your favorite puréed fruit, yogurt (if you want your ice pops creamy), and your choice of fruit stir-ins. Then pour the mixture into molds, add sticks, and freeze. The toughest part is sitting tight while the freezer works its magic—but trust me, these pops are worth the wait.


Ice Pop Master Recipe

Yields about ten 1/3 cup pops

Make the syrup

A simple syrup is easy to make: Just combine sugar and water and boil. If you like, add a flavoring to the syrup to infuse it with another layer of flavor. A pinch of salt helps bring out the flavor of the fruit purée you’ll add later.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, a pinch of kosher salt, and 1/2 cup water in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and make sure the sugar has dissolved; add your choice of flavoring, if using (see options below). Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 2  minutes. Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool completely. Strain through a fine strainer into a 1-quart liquid measuring cup.


Choose a flavoring (optional)


Crushed cardamom pods (green or white): 1 Tbs.

Crumbled Dried chiles (chile de árbol or pequin): 2 chiles

Vanilla bean, split lengthwise: 1/2 bean, about 3 inches

Cinnamon stick: 4-inch piece

Fresh lemon thyme: 2 to 3 sprigs

Crushed coriander seed: 1 tsp.

Crushed pink peppercorns: 1 Tbs.

Lemon zest: four 3-inch strips (remove any white pith)

Lime zest: four 3-inch strips (remove any white pith)

Orange zest: four 3-inch strips (remove any white pith)

Chopped lemongrass:
1/4 cup

Black or jasmine tea: 1 Tbs.

Crushed juniper berries: 1 Tbs.


Make a fruit purée or juice


Purée the fruit (see options below) in batches in a blender, or for tangerines or oranges, squeeze the juice; you should have about 2 cups. If you like, you can replace half of the puree or juice with 1 cup Greek yogurt to make creamy yogurt pops.


Choose one fruit


Peaches: 2 lb. (8 to 12), peeled and pitted

Papaya: 1 small, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks (about 4 cups)

Mango: 3 medium, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks (about 4-1/2 cups)

Grapes (red or green seedless): 2 cups

Blackberries: 2 pints (strain the purée if you like)

Oranges: 6

Tangerines: 10

Cantaloupe: 1 medium to large, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks (about 3 cups)

Pineapple: 1 medium, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks (about 3 cups)

Strawberries: 5 cups, hulled

Kiwi: 1-1/2 lb. (8 to 10), peeled


Add the stir-ins

Stir-ins not only add extra flavor but also give an interesting textural element to the pops.

Combine the 2 cups fruit purée or juice and the reserved syrup. Distribute your choice of stir-in(s) (see options below) among ten 1/3-cup pop molds. Add the fruit mixture to each mold, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top to allow for expansion. Stir gently with a Popsicle stick to distribute the stir-ins.


Choose one or two stir-ins, up to 1 cup total (optional)


Orange or tangerine segments, cut free of membranes and halved

Blackberries, halved or quartered if large

Mango, cut into small dice

Unsweetened dried coconut, lightly toasted (max 3/4 cup)

Kiwi, cut into small pieces

Dried cranberries, lightly chopped (max 1/2 cup)

Apricots, cut into small dice

Strawberries, cut into small pieces

Fresh mint, chopped (max 1/3 cup)

Dried cherries, lightly chopped (max 1/2 cup)

Cucumber, cut into small pieces

Papaya, cut into small dice

Pineapple, cut into small pieces

Cantaloupe, cut into small dice

Wild blueberries, whole

Freeze the ice pops

Freeze until partially frozen, about 1 hour. Insert sticks and freeze again until the pops are fully set, 4 to 6 hours more.

To unmold, dip the mold in a deep pan of hot water until the pops pull out easily, 30 to 40 seconds, or let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Unmold and store the pops in individual resealable plastic bags; they’re best eaten within 3 weeks.


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