Friday, August 6, 2010

Flashback Friday: Vanilla and Pops!

Ina Garten once was doing a show and she was using a vanilla bean. She pulled out a jar of vanilla beans that were soaked in vodka. Hers were nice and plump and pliable. I looked at my sad little beans from the pantry. Brittle and dry. So I used up the last my poor, sad, dried out beans and bought some nice, fresh new ones. I already had a bottle of homemade vanilla extract going from a recipe from Martha Stewart, so now when I get new vanilla beans, I cram them in that bottle of extract. And look at that, just like Ina said, they were plump and pliable. Not to mention totally bent from being squished :) but a good way to preserve the beans if you use them like I do. Once every year? Just keep adding vodka to the extract. And more beans!

Miss Picky and I spent the day together and we ended up making ice pops! Not the kind you make when they're little, some fruit juice in a pop mold and freeze it! Nope, Miss Picky wanted the kind that leads to work. Usually for me! So we picked out a recipe using ingredients we had in the house. Or somewhat close!

She picked a recipe from a book we had gotten at Williams-Sonoma. Ice Pops Cookbook. I drew the line at getting an ice pop maker that freezes in minutes. We could definitely wait a few hours. No heavy cream in the house, that let out a lot of the recipes in this book! We settled on Vanilla-Toffee Chip, but of course we didn't have any toffee chips. But we do have at least ten kinds of chocolate. This is a vanilla custard pop, calls for whole milk, we subbed 1% milk for the whole milk. and milk chocolate chips and dark chocolate sticks instead of the toffee. So I guess we can't call it a Vanilla-Toffee pop any more.

The trick with using a custard based ice cream pop is you have to watch the mixture, and stir. The recipe probably was invented when they didn't have texting and you need two hands to text, so the stirring took a back seat. and then they must have invented strainers to compensate for the 16 year olds who need to text while stirring, so the curdled part was strained out and no one will be the wiser. Hopefully.

After straining out the curdled bits, you'd never know that texting and stirring didn't mix!

and if you need reading glasses, wear them, I used 1/2 cup of sugar instead of 3/4 and it was actually fine. It was plenty sweet with a half cup!  and nothing wrong with using a whole vanilla bean, even if the recipe calls for half. I think the curdled is what got us. This recipe tasted really like custard, and kind of eggy. We liked it, but chips are definitely easier to eat frozen, than a stick of chocolate. and definitely next time we'll try the toffee, use whole, not curdle the eggs, and basically follow the directions. Otherwise they were pretty good. And we had a fun afternoon making them!

Vanilla-Toffee Chip Pops
adapted from Ice Pops by Shelly Kaldunski
Printable Recipe

2 cups whole milk (I used 1%)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 large egg plus 3 yolks
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or morsels, or chopped (or as in the original recipe, toffee bits!)

In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of milk with the cornstarch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened. In a bowl, whisk the remaining 2./2 cup of milk with the eggs, sugar and salt. Using a knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the seeds and the bean to the egg mixture. Stirring constantly, add the egg mixture to the milk mixture and then cook, whisking continuously over medium-high heat. Remove from heat when it begins to boil.

Pour the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl, then cool over an ice bath. An ice bath is a large bowl filled with ice and water, and a smaller bowl with the custard fits on top, to cool off the custard. Stir in toffee or chocolate chips when the custard has cooled.

Pour into ice pop molds and freeze for at least six hours.

Flashing back to the vanilla extract. The original recipe from Martha Stewart can be found here. The original post can be found here.

For more Flashback Fridays, visit Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet.


  1. Another 'adventure in the kitchen' :) I keep my vanilla beans in my bottle of store-bought vanilla. I need to make my own vanilla!

    I almost bought that book the last time I was at WS. It has some many wonderful photos and recipes in it! LOL on the texting and stirring! Time together with your daughter is the real treat.

  2. This pop will be greatly appreciated by my son. It looks so cool and refreshing.

  3. The pop looks very fresh and fun to eat!

  4. After years of hard, expensive vanilla beans, I switched to vanilla bean paste. I love it!

    The pops look delicious. I just bought pop molds and can't wait to make some.

  5. What a fun...and tasty idea! Thanks for the recipe! ♥

  6. I've never made more than the juice-in-a-tupperware-form sort of pop. I'm going to visit the kids later this month and this recipe could go with me.

  7. Hey I need to try that vanilla bean trick. I have one sad bean left. I wonder if I plopped it in the vanilla would it plump? Fun times in the kitchen with your texting teen :-) I bet the human race is going to evolve with stronger thumbs after a few generations of texters. Thanks for joining me with a flashback this week my friend!

  8. They look good! I keep my vanilla beans in a bottle of vodka. They don't care what I do to them! :)

  9. This looks so good, Carol. I agree that the WS ice pop maker is a true luxury and can wait afew hours for mine to freeze.

    Thanks for the vanilla bean tip!

  10. Hi Carol - I like everything you've posted lately (catching up here) except the salmon and calamari :)

    But especially the root beer float ice pops and these toffee chips - to die for!

  11. I have some sad looking beans as well! The 'pops' look good - I can just taste the vanilla!!!

  12. It's beans and bourbon for me! I enjoy homemade vanilla extract. The pops look great Carol! I want one now ;-)


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