There may be no better thirst quencher on a steamy afternoon than an ice pop. Keep it homemade, and you’ve got all the bases covered: flavorful, fun and, if you really stretch the truth, almost good for you with fruit or calcium aplenty. At least that’s what we tell ourselves as the frozen pop drips down our fingers on a sunny day.
A delightful new book on the subject goes far beyond freezing juice in paper cups for our kids, although that’s a perfectly acceptable, even encouraged, activity for summer cooks and their young helpers.
“Ice Pops,” by Cesar and Nadia Roden (Sterling Epicure, 128 pages, $16.95) raises the bar for summer treats with 50 frozen delights that will appeal to adults, such as Egyptian Hibiscus and Peach, Apricot and Pistachio, Mexican Chocolate, Vietnamese Coffee, Cucumber and Lime, and much more.
Here’s the back story. Nadia Roden, an artist in New York City, is the daughter of famed cookbook author Claudia Roden. Cesar is Nadia’s nephew (Claudia’s grandson), who lives in London. After Nadia became intrigued with a photo of an ice pop, she set her sights on exploring flavors and combinations that could be frozen.
She threw herself into an ice cream course, then set up a cart in New York City to sell the treats. Cesar flew in to help her. Their imaginative treats caught the attention of Oprah and Martha Stewart, among others.
Cesar took over the project the next season and set it up in London, where he pushed the experimentation in a business called the Ice Kitchen, which sold the pops from carts throughout the city. This collection of recipes is the result.
The charming book, with color photos and whimsical drawings, includes plenty of treats that kids will enjoy, including one for Cereal Milk, combining milk, cream, breakfast cereal, banana and a sweetener (honey or maple syrup).
But then the authors push the envelope, and we’re all the more hungry for it. They add a tiny bit of alcohol to a few pops (Campari, rum, sherry or wine, among them), create layers of flavors and swirls of colors, infuse herbal syrups, sprinkle on nuts or spices, suspend ingredients mid-ice chunk. These are treats as lovely as they are good to eat.
They remind us that summer isn’t just for kids.
Follow Lee Svitak Dean on Twitter: @StribTaste