Hot weather heaven: Strawberry Cheesecake Pops.

Remember the Good Humor truck?

good-humor-truck-with-kidsOkay, I don’t go back that far, but I do remember the Good Humor man.

Oh how I loved Chocolate Eclair and Strawberry Shortcake bars. Delish! And those red-white-and-blue Bomb Pops, orange Push-ups, ice cream sandwiches, and my favorite: Fudgsicles (“fudgickles” to the rest of us). Hot weather heaven.

After a long and chilly midwestern spring, Memorial Day weekend brought sunshine and warm breezes (and rain, no surprise), so summer can't be too far off. And what better way to usher in ice cream season than with Strawberry Cheesecake popsicles! And where can you buy Strawberry Cheesecake popsicles? Answer: nowhere! But you can
make them. It takes a bit more effort than pouring Kool-Aid into paper cups, but the results will be worth it (and fairly low-fat, too).

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The recipe comes from
Cooking Light magazine, courtesy of my doctor's office -- which kept me waiting just long enough to find the recipe but not so long that I had to read the whole issue twice.

As soon as I saw these pops, I was immediately on the hunt for a classic popsicle mold,
which I found at World Market -- advertised as a set of two but you can buy them separately, thank goodness. We don't need to make 20 popsicles at a time just yet. And they come with a packet of wooden sticks, too.

You'll note I keep saying "
popsicle." I know, I know -- popsicle is a brand name, but I can't help it. I just can't bring myself to say "ice pop." Too generic. For me, sweet frozen things on a stick will always be POPsicles.

(Oh my golly, even as I type this the ice cream truck is chiming its way merrily up our street!)

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Fresh strawberries (although you could certainly use thawed frozen berries if that's easier) are blended with lemon juice and corn syrup for one half of the pop. Don't balk at that corn syrup -- it helps the strawberries freeze softly rather than rock hard. Separately you mix together evaporated milk, sugar, low fat cream cheese, fat free Greek yogurt and vanilla.


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Pour the mixtures alternately into your popsicle mold or even paper cups. These molds are 4 ounces, and I got ten pops out of the recipe.

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DETOUR:
Cooking Light's recipe calls for dipping the frozen pops into crushed graham cracker crumbs before serving, but I knew that wouldn't be enough for me (plus, how would those crumbs stick?) It's the slightly sweet, buttery graham cracker crust that balances cheesecake's cream-cheesiness. So I made half a recipe of graham cracker crust (see below), which I crumbled and dropped into the molds as each layer of popsicle filling was added, and tucked some on top when they were full. It's fiddly but oh so worth it! Next time I'll drop some crust crumbles into the molds even before I start filling, so those first bites have buttery graham crust in them.

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When the molds are filled, gently swirl the mixture with a popsicle stick or skewer to mix them up just a bit but not too much. You still want that nice separation of cheesecake and strawberry flavors, just as you get with a slice of cheesecake.

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They should be frozen and ready to eat in 3-4 hours. When ready, run warm water over each of the molds for a few minutes, wiggle them out gently, and enjoy. The pops tasted
divine and elicited sounds of delight from all who ate them. They evoke the cool, creamy flavor of strawberry cheesecake without all the cheesy heaviness. And the bites of graham cracker crust throughout were perfection, if I say so myself.

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The popsicle mold will be getting an additional workout when I make the
New York Times' Frozen Fudge Pop recipe. Sure, it's easier to buy Fudgesicles, but when the recipe calls for 54% cacao chocolate ... well, I have to try making them. And at some point in the future I'll be spiking popsicles -- can't buy booze-sicles at the grocery store!

Here is the Cooking Light recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake Pops (their word, not mine -- mine would be "popsicles"). My half-recipe for graham cracker crust mix-in is below. The Good Humor man never had it so good. Bring on summer!


Graham Cracker Crust

This is ideal baked in a toaster oven because it's such a small quantity.

5 oz. finely crushed graham crackers (about 9-10 squares)
2 Tablespoons sugar
2-1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat toaster oven or conventional oven to 375 degrees.

In a smallish bowl, stir the graham cracker crumbs and sugar until completely blended. Add melted butter and mix well, until all crumbs have been coated and the mixture clumps a little. Press into a toaster oven pan or a pie pan to about 1/4" thick or thicker, if you like.

Bake for 4-5 minutes -- keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. It will cook quickly! Remove from oven and allow to cool either in the pan, or lift it out and cool on a rack. Crumble into pieces as large or small as you like and sprinkle into your molds. I used probably less than half of this recipe for my popsicles, but next time I'll add more to each one.


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