As the temperature rises, our urge to cook (or really spend much time indoors at all) drops. What do you reach for when the mercury climbs? Chill out on hot days with these cool treats that you can make at home. By making your own, you can control the ingredients and avoid high-fructose corn syrup and other additives like artificial colors and flavors. Plus, they are a fun way to entertain the kids (or grandkids)!
Ice pops are ridiculously easy to make. Simply pour fruit juice into the mold of your choice. Molds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from push-up pops to popsicles. Don’t want to buy the molds? You can use cups or glasses and drop in a popsicle stick.
If you want to add a little variety to your ice pops, you can mix in pureed fruit, fresh herbs, yogurt, and blended juices. (Check out this yogurt ice pops recipe. ) Cool combos to try: watermelon-mint, cherry-limeade, and pineapple-mango.
Bananas offer a similar creaminess to ice cream without all the extra fat content. Frozen banana treats are straightforward to make. Chose ripe, but firm bananas. Cut each banana in half and square off the pointy ends to make it easy to stand them up after they are dipped. Stick a popsicle stick into the bottom of each banana. Freeze for one hour. Melt some chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. You can also use chocolate syrup, yogurt, or nut butters for your coating. Completely cover your banana with the coating of your choice. If you want to up the wow factor, add toppings such as chopped nuts, coconut, sprinkles, granola, and even fresh fruits such as raspberries. Place the toppings on a plate to allow for easy rolling. Once coated and topped, place the bananas upright on their ends on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Freeze for one more hour.
Similar to a smoothie, fruit coolers offer a lighter texture. Why? Coolers have more liquid than a smoothie. Here’s how to make your own fruit coolers. Start with a simple syrup of 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Heat both ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Puree 1 ½ cups of the fruit of your choice in a blender. Add the simple syrup and 1 cup of the juice of your choice to the fruit puree. Add water to make it the consistency you like. If you want it fizzy, skip the water and reach for lemon-lime soda or ginger ale. Cool combos to try: raspberry-lemonade, strawberry-orange, and blackberry-ginger.
Okay, we already said you probably don’t want to cook, but homemade gelato is so worth firing up the stove and hauling out the ice cream maker. Here’s how you do it. In a saucepan, mix 2 cups milk to 1 cup heavy cream. Warm until foam starts to gather on the edges. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, beat together 4 egg yolks and ½ cup of sugar. Whisk in the heated milk to the egg mixture. Return to saucepan and cook over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until it begins to coat the back of the spoon. If lumps appear, remove from heat immediately. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Cover and chill overnight. Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the instructions. Once frozen, transfer the gelato to a sealed container or enjoy immediately. If you’d like to try your hand at making gelato, check out this mint chocolate chip gelato recipe at Martha Stewart. Make it green with a few drops of natural food coloring.