On the hottest days of summer, there’s nothing better than a nice, cold ice pop — in theory, anyway. In reality, they can be a little meh, more like a stick of barely-flavored ice that immediately melts into a watery mess all over your hands.
But here’s an idea: What if you could make ice pops yourself that actually tasted delicious? And what if they looked great, too? What if they were even … cute?
Below, you’ll find instructions for making the bear pops on the bottom left and notes on how The New York Times for Kids made the other animals you see here. But these are really just suggestions to get your imagination going. Once you have the hang of the base recipes and the techniques, feel free to go wild.
Base Recipe Options
(Each base recipe makes 6 pops.)
In a blender, blend 2 bananas with 1 ½ cups of vanilla yogurt or milk until smooth.
Blend 1 ½ heaping cups of frozen or fresh fruit (like strawberries, mango chunks or raspberries) with 1 cup vanilla yogurt and 1 banana until smooth.
Blend 2 bananas with ⅓ cup peanut butter, 1 cup milk or vanilla yogurt and 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder until smooth.
1 batch vanilla-banana base (see recipe above)
8 baby spinach leaves
Ice-pop molds and sticks
For the features: 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 on.
2. Blend ⅓ of the vanilla-banana base with baby spinach leaves in a blender to make an additional green base. (You won’t taste the spinach!)
3. Pour the green base into each ice-pop mold, filling each up about a third.
4. Put the molds in the freezer, and freeze for one hour. (Note: Keep the vanilla-banana base refrigerated during this time.)
5. After an hour, take the molds out of the freezer, give the vanilla-banana base a good stir and fill the molds the rest of the way up.
6. Put the mold lids on and insert an ice-pop stick into the center of each mold.
7. Put the molds back in the freezer and freeze for four hours or more, until fully solid.
8. Unmold your pops: Place a wax-paper-lined baking sheet in the freezer. Run the molds quickly under warm water, and as you remove each pop, place it in the freezer on the sheet.
9. Decorate your pops: Line a second baking sheet with wax paper and place it on top of ice packs, if you have them. One at a time, take the pops out of the freezer, place them on the sheet and use dabs of the reserved base to ‘‘glue’’ on the bear’s facial Features. (Use the toothpick to poke holes for the eyes and for the nose before adhering the nonpareils.) Return each finished pop to the sheet in the freezer.
10. Leave the pops in the freezer for a few minutes to freeze on the features. Then serve immediately!
Base: Fruit base (strawberries)
Features: Nonpareils, sprinkles, marshmallows
Note: To make the bunny’s white belly: Before filling the mold, cut a marshmallow in half and place one half ⅓ the way down into 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 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 the molds
Features: Mini marshmallows (cut in half, sticky side ‘‘glued’’ to pop); large black nonpareils (for eyes); mini chocolate chips (for ears)
Bases: Vanilla-banana; chocolate-peanut butter (halve the recipe)
Features: Sprinkle eyes, sliced almonds, toasted coconut flakes, sunflower seeds
Bases: Fruit base (raspberries); vanilla-banana base (halve the recipe)
Features: Banana chips, almond slices, pumpkin seeds
Note: To create stripes, layer on your bases, freezing for an hour between layers.
Set designer: Andrea Stanley
This article was originally published in the June issue of The New York Times for Kids. Find the section in your paper this Sunday, June 26 (and the last Sunday of every month).