Sticking it to Summer

Looking to beat the heat? Whether you’re looking for a sweet treat or savory taste, there’s a pop for you


Photographs by Cybelle Codish

Memories of patriotic, rocket-shaped sugar water or creamy orange vanilla pops dot my childhood. But downscale “popsicles” have been going upscale/gourmet for a while now.

(And yes, “Popsicle” is a trademark — like Kleenex or Zipper — but the name became part of the vernacular for all things frozen on a stick quite a long time ago.) 

If you can dream it, you can freeze it. That’s my recipe at a glance. Flavor-wise, almost anything works. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Sure. Gazpacho? Yep (see following page). Caprese salad with chunks of mozzarella and fresh basil? Uh-huh. Pureed bananas, chocolate chips, and pecans dipped in melted ganache? Swoon. 

Even yogurt cups work (make slits in lids of 4-ouncers and freeze).

In fact, you can throw together any random ingredients or traditional food combos and “pop” them. That’s how my “breakfast cream-cheese-lox-dill-caper pops” were born. 

Sadly, pure booze won’t freeze. But you can still successfully make a cocktailsicle by adding a wee bit of the hard stuff to your mix.

You don’t need special “molds.” Small disposable cups will suffice (3 ounces is plenty). Silicone ice trays are perfect, and at an ounce apiece, are fast to freeze.

The simple method is: Chop or puree your favorite concoction (sweet, creamy, fruity, savory). If the consistency is creamy, you’re good to go. If it’s chunky, add enough appropriate liquid (milk, juice, yogurt, etc.) to fill “gaps” (otherwise the pops won’t be uniform). Pour into molds (or cups or whatever) and freeze. 

If you use non-molds, cover the liquid with plastic, poke sticks/skewers through them, and freeze. Or, partially freeze and add the stick (so that it stands straight, and freeze solid). To serve, run a few seconds of hot water over the outside of molds and pull. 

Then, chill out.

If you’re a bit wary about creating your own, we’ve got a few recipes. Enjoy!

Recipes courtesy of Annabel Cohen


Faygo and Sanders Root Beer Float (Makes about 8) 


12 ounces Faygo Root Beer (Note: Use non-diet version)
12 ounces Sanders vanilla ice cream, melted slightly


Pour root beer into a liquid measuring cup and allow to stand for several hours to release carbonation. Combine root beer and ice cream in the pitcher of a blender and blend until smooth. Divide the mixture into molds. Freeze for 8 hours or overnight. To serve, run a few seconds of hot water over the outside of molds and pull. 


Faygo Red Pop, Orange, and Grapesicles (Makes about 8)


8 ounces Faygo Red Pop
8 ounces Faygo Orange pop
8 ounces Faygo Grape pop
(Note: Use non-diet versions)


Pour pops into measuring cups and allow to stand for several hours to release carbonation. Fill molds ⅓ full of Red Pop. Freeze until solid. Fill the next ⅓ with orange pop. Freeze. Fill the remaining third of the molds with grape pop. Freeze. To serve, run a few seconds of hot water over the outside of molds. 


Farmers Market Gazpacho (Makes about 8)


2 cups pureed fresh Michigan tomatoes, any variety
1 cup finely chopped cucumber
1 cup finely chopped green or yellow pepper
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup minced onions
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (such as Street Eatzz 313 Foodie Sauce) 
Salt and pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Divide the mixture into molds. Freeze for 8 hours or overnight. To serve, run a few seconds of hot water over the outside of molds and pull. 


Michigan Watermelon Strawberry Mint Vodka (Makes about 8)


2 cups watermelon, seeded
2 cups whole sweet Michigan strawberries, hulled (stems removed)
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup your favorite Detroit brand vodka
1 cup fresh torn mint leaves


Combine watermelon, strawberries, sugar, lime juice, and vodka in the pitcher of a blender and blend until smooth. Add mint leaves and blend for a few more seconds. Divide the mixture into molds. Freeze for 8 hours or overnight. To serve, run a few seconds of hot water over the outside of molds and pull. 


Mango-coconut with Mexican Chili Salt (makes about 16)

Recipe courtesy of Ofelia Saenz of Alegria Pops (pictured at right)


Two large mangos, cut into chunks (about 1¾ cups when pureed)
¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk**
25.5 ounces coconut milk
2 tablespoons Tajin brand 
Mexican Chili Salt


Combine all ingredients except the chili salt in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Fill pop molds with mixture. Sprinkle each pop with chili salt. Insert sticks, cover and freeze 8-10 hours.

**To make a vegan version, skip the sweetened condensed milk. Reduce the coconut milk to 14 ounces and add 15 ounces cream of coconut.

Pop Culture 

In Mexico, buying cut-up pieces of fresh mango with chili salt sprinkled on top is a typical street food. But in an ice pop? 

At Alegria Pops, Ofelia Saenz, who’s from Southwest Detroit and now lives in Woodbridge, takes traditional Mexican paleta (ice pops) flavors to the next level with handcrafted frozen treats, such as mango coconut as well as café con leche, avocado, and lemon buttermilk. 

When making ice pops at home, Saenz says, “sugar and fat are your friends and foes. They enhance flavor and texture, but keep in mind that the higher the sugar and/or fat content, the harder it is to freeze.”

Also when working with fresh fruit, seasonal and ripe fruit will require less added sugar, says Saenz, a Top 10 Hatch Detroit finalist in 2014.

Now in her third season, Saenz’s frozen concoctions can be found at Café Con Leche Nord in New Center and at events around town, such as this month’s Concert of Colors. For information, check out— Dorothy Hernandez

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