Remember childhood summers spent chilling-out with frozen Icees and push-up pops? Today we have gourmet ice pops, sorbets and granitas - all with a hip creative twist.
For a true experience, stop by the Sandy Springs Farmers Market, on Saturdays, for handcrafted ice pops by The Pop Shop. Co-owner John Balyewu, draws on his past bartending experience to concoct refreshingly fun flavors with fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices.
The Pop Shop uses locally grown ingredients whenever possible to craft all-natural pops containing no preservatives, artificial sweeteners or colors. With over 20 flavors such as GA Peach Ginger Tea, Pineapple Habanero, Mango Mojito, Berry Berry Lemonade, Chocolate Raspberry and Spiced Carrot Cake, it’s no wonder their motto is, “The most fun you’ll ever have …on a stick!”
Speaking of sticks, the "Popsicle" was invented when 11-year-old Frank Epperson left a cup of fruit flavored drink with a stick in it on his porch overnight. The next day, he discovered the drink had froze to the stick and dubbed his tasty invention the “Epsicle.” Eighteen years later in 1923, Epperson received a patent for the frozen treat that his children re-named the Popsicle.
Sorbet, which is frozen water or fruit juice and sweetener, has many countries claiming credit for its origins and popularity. For thousands of years the Chinese have been mixing snow with fruit to create a sorbet-like dessert. The Roman Emperor Nero was believed to have ordered his soldiers to bring snow down from the mountains to mix with wine and honey. The French made eating sorbet fashionable when Henry II’s Italian wife, Catherine de’ Medici, brought sorbet to their country.
A popular creamy non-dairy, non-fat or low-fat alternative to ice cream, sorbets are easy to make and can be both simple and sophisticated. From decadent dark silky chocolate, luscious lemon, fruity wine or even fresh savory herb and vegetable flavors, there’s something for everyone.
Granitas are very similar to sorbets with a crunchier texture. They are served semi-frozen like a slushy and, made with water, sweetener and flavoring. Italian folk lore credits a Sicilian lady selling sherbet for inventing granitas when she left her ingredients on ice too long, creating highly granular flavored ice. In Italy, granitas are popular for breakfast, as well as any time of the day.
Recipes to Recapture the Sweet Spot
It’s easy to recapture the sweet spot of youth with my grown-up no-fuss freezer pleasers. There’s no cooking or complicated equipment required for these popsicle, sorbet and granita inspired recipes.
If you like root beer, the all-natural, sugar-free, Sassafras Herbal Tea pops are a fun faux alternative.
The Watermelon Lime Sorbet was a hit at my last cooking class. Students loved the bright color and honey-like taste of the yellow watermelon I used that day… try a yellow watermelon if you can find one!
The Lemon Blueberry Granita is a good bet if you prefer a tart & fruity snow cone loaded with Vitamin C and anti-oxidants.
Give these recipes a whirl or use them as a guide to create your own icy treats
Faux Root Beer Sassafras Tea Pops
makes about 6-8 mini pops
4 Tbsp. loose herbal sassafras tea (you want a strong brew for rich flavor)
2 cups of boiling water
Steep tea in boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain tea, cool and pour into mold or little plastic bathroom cups. If using cups, cover with foil, insert wooden craft stick in the middle and freeze until solid. Remove from cups by running warm water on sides of cup. Keep the foil at the base of the sticks to catch popsicle drips.
Watermelon Lime Sorbet serves 4-6
4 cups frozen watermelon, cut in small chunks
2-3 Tbsp. agave or honey, to taste
1 lime, zested and ½ to whole lime juiced, as needed
In a blender or food processor combine lime juice, zest, sweetener and watermelon pieces that are semi-frozen; process until smooth and thick. Add more lime juice or sweetener, if needed. Serve in scoops garnished with a slice of lime.
Lemon Blueberry Granita serves 4
1 large organic lemon, zested and juiced, more if needed
3-4 Tbsp. Agave or 1/3 cup sugar, to taste
3 cups ice cubes
½ cup fresh blueberries with 1/2 tsp. agave or 1 tsp. sugar
Place ice cubes, lemon zest, lemon juice and agave/sugar in a blender; process until ice finely crushed and packed. Add more lemon juice or sweetener to taste and blend, if needed. Scoop into serving cups, top with sweetened blueberries.