Sunday, August 17, 2014

Recipe tinkering

Do you have trouble sticking to a recipe?  And feel compelled to tweak the ingredients?  Yes? Well you're not alone.  I am a compulsive tweaker; and no that isn’t a new dance.   It’s a fun way to cook if you don’t mind the risks involved, as seen below.
Banana, chocolate & peanut butter ice pop fiasco

There are some types of recipes that are particularly well suited to this way of cooking: smoothies of course, granola, salads, soups, and popsicles.  Popsicles or rather ice pops are great for letting your inner recipe developer out.  Ok, maybe some of you don’t like to free-form cook. That’s cool, because I have a cookbook for you.  It’s called Perfect Pops by Charity Ferreira.   It’s a great little cookbook with lots of colorful pictures and creative recipes.  
You can easily find the molds these days or make do with paper cups.  I found my molds on sale at my grocery store for a few bucks.  But you can also find a huge variety of shapes on Amazon.  The other helpful tool you’ll need for ice pops is a strong blender or food processor for pureeing your ingredients.

These ice pops were inspired from reading Ferreira’s cookbook and making use of what I had on hand.  I had a blast tinkering away in the kitchen.

These are made from layered pureed mango, pineapple and coconut milk.  I got the idea from the recipe for Mango Lassi Pops in the cookbook.  
Take 2 1/2 cups cubed mango, 3/4 cup whole-milk yogurt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1-2 teaspoons lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon and puree ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth.  Taste and add more lime juice or sugar if desired.  Spoon the mixture into the molds and freeze for 6 hours.  
These ice pops (my favorite) were made by cooking down a couple of cups of blueberries and a little agave in a saucepan on the stove.  I pureed the mixture with the hand blender until smooth and continued to cook it down further until it was almost like jam.  The other half of the mixture is made from a carton of lemon yogurt, 1/3 of a cup of buttermilk, 1/4 cup half and half, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, a little lemon zest and agave. 
Some tips and observations from experimenting-  Freezing mutes the sweetness of your puree.  Keep this in mind when you taste your liquids before freezing.   Swirls and stripes are best achieved when your mixtures have the same viscosity.  Once your mixtures are in the molds insert a knife to gently create pretty swirls.  To keep your sticks in place, cover the molds with foil and pierce the foil with a sharp knife before inserting the popsicle stick into your mold.  Running hot water over the outside of the molds really helps release the ice pop.  But make sure it is thoroughly frozen first which usually takes 6 hours.

Remember my fiasco from above? Well if I had thought that through I wouldn't have put melted chocolate ganache into the mold.  Once it quickly cooled the chocolate adhered itself to the molds.  I basically had to melt my ice pops to get anything out.  

But I thought what the heck why not scrape everything off the sticks and molds and puree it in the food processor and refreeze it.  And it worked, very tasty.

Here are some additional cookbooks for making ice pops. Enjoy!

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