Novelty Ice Cream Week: How to Make Your Own Ice Cream Pops

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[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Of all the ice cream truck's frozen treats, nothing is more iconic than the Good Humor bar. At its simplest, that means vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and propped on a stick. But these days the franchise includes crumbs and crunchies, layers of ice creams, fudge ripples, and a pink substance that everyone calls "strawberry" but I swear is some kind of alternative bubble gum.

As it happens, ice cream bars are also the most difficult novelty to make at home. But the results are well worth it.

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If you're making ice cream bars in a factory, you have the advantage of better ice cream machines, better molds, and better freezers, all of which let you get perfectly uniform shapes with perfectly even chocolate dips.

Now try taking your homemade or store-bought ice cream and stuffing it into popsicle molds. Let them freeze a few hours, even overnight, and see if you can pull them out all clean and pretty like Good Humor's. No? I thought not.

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The problem is that home freezers don't get cold enough to freeze ice cream bars completely solid, so you're left with soft ice cream that gets even softer the moment it leaves the freezer, and flops around like a fish instead of keeping its rigid bar shape. The solution? Ice cream pops don't have to be made with popsicle molds.

My mold of choice is the 3 ounce Dixie cup, the little paper kind you get your pills in at the hospital. A pack of 50 will cost you just a few bucks at the grocery store and they're the perfect size for an ice cream pop. Here's how to use them:

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If you're making your own ice cream you can transfer it straight from the churn into the cups before hardening them in the freezer. (This recipe works very well.) Going with store-bought? Let it soften enough that you can easily spoon it into the cups.

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Then shove a popsicle stick halfway down each cup and let the ice cream harden in the freezer for at least two or three hours, but ideally overnight.

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Now to coat the pops. Have a pint of your chocolate dip at the ready; if you made your dip ahead of time, be sure to give it a quick stir to reincorporate any separated oil.

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With a knife or clean pair of scissors, cut the paper cup away from the frozen ice cream.

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Hey, look at how clean and pop-like it looks!

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Then dunk the pops in the chocolate dip one by one.

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And twirl them over the dip so the excess drains away. The shell needs a good 30 seconds to completely harden—it'll go from glossy to fudgy-looking to completely matte.

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Now it's time to customize. As long as your chocolate shell is still glossy you can use it to pick up a crunchy coating. Some suggestions:

  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Cake crumbs
  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Finely chopped nuts
  • Sprinkles
  • Cacao nibs

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In this case we're using sprinkles because sprinkles never need permission to join an ice cream party. But whatever your crunchy/crumbly choice, think small—the finer you chop your nuts or crumble your cake, the better.

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Roll your pop around the sprinkles in one or two sweeps and let the shell harden completely. You can either return your pops to the freezer or eat them right away.

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What, not enough for you? Okay, I get it—you don't only want ice cream pops, you want stuffed ice cream pops. Fine—that's easy enough when you have your Dixie cup molds.

Feel free to layer two different ice cream flavors when filling your cups. Or line the bottom of the cups with some hot fudge sauce. Want a surprise in the center? Cut some yellow cake or brownies into small cubes and fill your Dixie cups halfway with ice cream. Put in the cubes and add more ice cream to cover. Voila: now you have a fleet of ice cream pops just as varied—and even tastier—than Good Humor's.

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And that's just the beginning. But, sadly, it's also where Novelty Ice Cream Week comes to an end. Have any creations of your own that you want to share? Let me know in the comments.

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