June 19, 2012

Cooling Down with Lemon Curd and Yogurt Pops

Today marks the twelfth day of 90-degree weather in Chicago this year. If this is late spring, who knows what summer will bring us!

You can cool off with homemade yogurt ice pops, a tasty treat that can be made at home for dollars less than what's in your grocer's freezer. Try my lemon curd and yogurt pops. You can even layer in fresh berries for a really pretty presentation and fruity kick.

As for pop molds, mine are some fancy schmancy ones given to me as a housewarming gift from Crate & Barrel years ago. The company no longer offers these, but it does currently have this fun set available. There are plenty to choose from, and places you'd never expect to carry such an item do, such as Whole Foods, The Container Store, and Walgreens. You can also always fall back on the trusty Dixie-Cup-covered-in-plastic-wrap-and-stuck-with-a-popsicle stick setup. Whatever works and gets you cooled off faster!

There are numerous cookbooks out there all about ice pops, and I've even given one as a gift before. But I personally like to wing it, sometimes simply pureeing leftover berries or bananas and mixing them in with yogurt and freezing. I'm also a sucker for homemade Jell-O pudding pops, especially that Martian green atrocity, pistachio pudding. My mom used to make Bundt cakes with a package of pistachio pudding in them for an after-school snack, and to this day, I keep a few boxes around for pudding pops or to toss into a pound cake batter.

You can even make yourself a breakfast treat by layering granola or nuts in the pop mold cavities along with a flavored yogurt. When I commuted via train, I used to freeze Yoplait Custard Style yogurt and then eat it on the go as I rode the train into work. But I never thought to add granola to my morning frozen treat until I started making ice pops at home.

I used Meyer lemons when making the following version of lemon curd for my yogurt pops. They happened to be in season when I made the curd and canned it, plus I enjoy the floral scent of Meyer lemons over regular lemons, which takes away some of the standard tartness. This lemon curd recipe can easily become lime curd by substituting similar quantities of lime juice and zest. I used plain nonfat yogurt to avoid any added sugar or fat, since lemon curd already contains sugar, butter, and egg yolks. Additionally, this curd recipe makes a great cupcake, cake, or tart filling. It's even good just spread on buttermilk biscuits for Sunday brunch!

How ever you choose to "pop" it this summer, nothing matches the speed at which you can have a fun frozen treat at your fingertips when making ice pops. We're supposed to get a break in our weather here in Chicago by Thursday, so 'til then, I'll be cooling off with a nice batch of Lemon Curd and Yogurt Ice Pops!

Lemon/Lime Curd (from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book)

5 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest of 2 lemons or 3 limes)
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
6 tbsp unsalted butter

In a heavy saucepan, combine yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Add zest and juice and whisk 1 minute longer. Cook gently over low heat, stirring until thickened, 10-15 minutes. (Do not allow eggs to scramble!) Remove from heat and stir in butter until completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool and then cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing wrap to surface of curd, and chill 1 hour.

For ice pops: Stir curd vigorously with whisk until smooth. Combine curd and 2 cups plain nonfat yogurt and mix until smooth. Pour into ice pop mold, insert sticks, and freeze 2 hours. To remove, run sides of mold under warm water until pops can be easily removed.

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