Cherry, Honey, Yogurt Swirl Ice Pops

Summer, Sweet Recipes • 12 Jul 2013

It wasn’t a long way up the cherry tree, but we took deep, bated breaths as our undeniably girly sneakers met the ochre bark. We imagined we were deep in a distant forest, blanketed by nebulous, diligently sinister foliage.  Rotund, shimmering cherries hung in a blurry mass above our heads, hundreds of feet into the clouds. We had to squint to identify the blushing, crimson fruit.

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We were humans cursed by the evil forest and our bodies mutated, transforming into greedy, voracious monkeys.

A sense of adventure and delicious fear blanketed an otherwise mundane childhood task of cherry picking. My best friend and I did not see the beauty in cultivating our own food so we created frenetically quixotic games to fool our bodies and our brains. We hastily filled our small bowl with the blood-red fruit before the powerful forest usurped our coveted stash.

Our furry, swollen paws clawed at the abrasive bark as we made our escape: through the yard, beyond the enchanted cherry tree and into her mother’s kitchen to rinse our fruit. We ran, laughing and spitting from exhaustion, our heads flushed from the heat, our arms sore from the climb.

We greedily ate our stash under the sprawling fruit tree, the yard’s singular cherry tree, arduously spitting each pit with accuracy and precision.  Cherry juice and pits littered the lawn and stained the grass. We also stained our shirts, the blood red juice a badge of honor, our battle wounds.

As we consumed cherries and spit out the pits, bellies full of laughter, we evaded our arch enemy- overwhelming childhood boredom that coincides with summer’s dog days.

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I’m still partial to summer stone fruit, especially cherries and apricots; fruits with a hard central core, bursting with warm, tart juice. I can consume stone fruit by the armful but alas, my toddler still dislikes all fruit; in fact, he finds it vile and offensive on principle. My attempt to sway his proclivities backfires dramatically as he stomps and spits, throwing up his clenched fists in an anti-fruit insurgence.  His rogue imagination and youthful palate are a terrible combination. My offerings leave me dejected, my guilt only assuaged by his desire for sweets. Sweets of any kind satiate so I know what to do.

I make cherry ice pops, built from pregnant, juice-filled marbles and honey-infused yogurt. Each pop is capped with icy, lemon-spiked cherry puree, the blushing juice melting fluidly into creamy marbled bases.

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I make the first half of the pops on the spot, and the remaining half a few days later. The delay alters the puree’s color; bright, purplish juice becoming dramatic maroon. The final product tastes identical but the visual diversity is thrilling and I enjoy recounting our unintentional science experiment to my son.

Sweet, tart and above all, shockingly cold, my marbled treats hit the spot and everyone is happy. His joy in consuming a frozen treat is akin to my alter ego’s journey up the cherry tree. His shrieks and laughs elate me as his ice pop hastily melts in the heat; juicy red legs run down his arm, cherry juice staining his petite top; his childhood badge of honor.

Cherry, Honey, Yogurt Swirl Ice Pops

3 cups red cherries, pitted
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups Greek yogurt
1/3 cup honey

1. In a blender, combine cherries and sugar and blend until smooth. Pour the puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard solids. 3 cups of cherries will yield about 1 1/2 cups cherry juice. Whisk in lemon juice.

2. Pour 1/8 cup cherry juice into each ice pop mold and freeze about 1 hour.

3. While the cherry layer is freezing, combine yogurt and honey in a large bowl. Add cherry juice to yogurt. For a marbled effect, do not mix thoroughly.

4. Using a spoon, carefully transfer yogurt to the molds. Put on the lid, insert ice pop sticks and freeze overnight.

Yield: 10 ice pops.

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