watermelon mint tequila pops with lime and sea salt

poplikeyIt’s been a few days since my last post; seemingly enough time for the weather to change from warmth and sunshine to grey skies and rain. For the first time in over three months, I pulled my crinkled jeans out from underneath a pile of t-shirts and swapped black Havaianas for mint-green Chucks to stop my toes from getting wet.  Sad, really. Well… for those of us who love the long nights and blue skies of Summer. 

popstickSo… what to post about, as I sit here on the couch wrapped in a blanket? Well, somewhat inappropriately, I felt like making today’s post about one of my favourite Summer treats: icy-poles (as we Australians call them; also known as ice pops or ice lollies for those in the Northern Hemisphere). As my mother will verify, cold weather means absolutely nothing to me when it comes to the consumption of iced treats. I’ve eaten Deep South ice-cream at -6 degrees C (-21 degrees f) in a beanie and gloves on New Zealand’s South Island, and it was totally worth it. Not only because Deep South makes some of the creamiest, most delicious ice-cream I’ve ever tasted, but also (wait for it) when you eat ice-cream at minus temperatures it doesn’t melt.

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Now, that might seem like an obvious statement to some of you, particularly if you live in a cold climate. But for me, it was an absolute epiphany. I enjoyed every last bite of that darn delicious ice-cream whilst staring up at the ridiculously beautiful Fox Glacier. I crunched the last remnants of cone and not a single drop of liquid ended up on my thermal gloves. Awesome, in every sense of the word.

Anyway, that’s enough reminiscing for one night. Back to the recipe at hand: sweet watermelon pops spiked with aromatic mint, sour lime and Tequila. I initially found this recipe over at Cindy’s blog, Hungry Girl por Vida, when I was searching for a boozy treat to serve at Aaron’s Mexican-themed birthday party last Summer (only two months ago, but… Summer is gone. Me sad). I soured the recipe up a bit with extra lime, then served the frozen pops after tacos, followed by shots of Jose Cuervo Reposado, salt and lime wedges.

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The pops were good. Very good… sweet, refreshing, tart and cold. But you know what? As I’ve been typing up this recipe, I had another epiphany (rolling them out tonight, people). Why not serve the actual ice pops with typical Tequila accompaniments: salt and lime wedges? So, wrapped up in my blanket, I tried the combination tonight with a Tequila shot. So good. The extra lime juice immediately freezes to become a sour, aromatic layer around the sweet ice pop, whilst the sea salt flakes embed themselves into the lime… you get little crunchy bursts of saltiness that pop with each bite.

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I’d definitely recommend this recipe for a lick of sweet, fragrant Summertime, regardless of the time of year. I’m still sucking on my popsicle stick as I type; my cold reddened fingers lingering with frozen moments just-passed. Maybe Summer will stay just a few moments longer. Just maybe.

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Watermelon Mint Tequila Pops with Lime and Sea Salt

Makes roughly 12 pops (depending upon how large your molds are)

  • 1/4 cup (60mL) water
  • 1/4 cup (55g) white caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint, torn coarsely
  • 4 cups watermelon, cubed
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 1/3 cup Tequila (blanco or aged reposado, I used the latter as it has a more mellow flavour)
  • optional: flaked sea salt and extra wedges of lime, to serve

Combine the water, sugar and mint in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow to boil, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. When there are no further sugar granules in the mixture, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, allowing the mint to steep in the sugar syrup for a minimum of 30 minutes (I left mine for 1 hour, which I’d recommend if you can spare the time). Strain your mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl or jar, pressing down on the mint leaves to remove as much flavour as possible. Set aside.

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Now for your watermelon. In a blender or food processor, puree the watermelon in batches. Add in your lime juice, then strain through a sieve to remove any large chunks of watermelon or stray seeds. Add in the Tequila and mint syrup, stirring well to ensure that everything is well distributed. Taste, then add in some extra lime or Tequila as desired.

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Divide your mixture between as many popsicle molds as you like (I made one massive one in a takeaway container, then mashed it up to make granita. Divine!). Freeze the mixture in the popsicle molds for about 30 minutes, then add in the pop sticks (push half of the stick into the centre of your ice pop… if it doesn’t stand up straight, wait a little longer then try again). Continue to freeze for 24 hours (or at the very least, 12, if you can’t wait) before eating.

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To make these even more adult-friendly, serve the pops with extra wedges of lime and a little bowl of sea salt. Squeeze, dip, then slurp… like a deliciously icy Tequila shot. Yum.

*This post is in no way affiliated with Jose Cuervo or any other brand of Tequila. I just bought the bottle above because 1) I’ve tried it before, and it’s delicious; 2) it was free of slippery little plump agave worms. Opinions stated are entirely my own.

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Notes:

  • To make these pops child-friendly, omit one lime and all of the Tequila. Your pops will probably freeze faster this way, as the alcohol (40% or 80 proof) in Tequila actually requires a temperature of about -34.44 degrees C (-30 degrees f) to freeze. Quite impractical, really… but delicious enough for me not to care.
  • If you’re not keen on cane sugar, I imagine that agave syrup would work wonderfully in this recipe (as it echoes the blue agave in the Tequila). You can also try 1/4 tsp stevia (powdered or liquid) as a substitute but you may have problems getting your mint syrup to the right consistency. Your finished pops will also be slightly ‘icier’ due to a higher ratio of water to sugar.
  • If you’ve ever wondered how to efficiently eat a watermelon, watch this video by Tom Willett. Your life will never be the same.
  • These pops will keep in the freezer for weeks. I’ve got a couple left from my husband’s birthday (in February) in the freezer and they taste just as gorgeous as ever (yes, I ate two whilst writing this blog post).
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