I spent my early childhood in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, a place not noted for its balmy climate. Nevertheless, according to my parents, I would frequently demand ice cream, even in the depths of in winter.
Therefore, despite June 2015 not (so far) developing into the scorcher we were promised, I see no reason not to write about lollies.
Modern lollies lack a certain something. For me at least. And not just jokes on the sticks.
The ones I’m nostalgic for are never as nice as I remember them being. I mean, isn’t it weird that you can suck the flavour right out and just leave the ice? And the “grown up” ones aren’t real lollies, they’re fancy choc-ices on sticks. Which is nice enough but can be a bit cloying.
Which is why I got a bit obsessed with the idea of making my own Mivvies AKA Strawberry Spilts. Remember them? A fruity shell around a core of vanilla ice cream. The best of both worlds! Refreshing like a lolly but with enough dairy to feel luxurious. I wanted a version made with real fruit and no artificial stuff, simple enough to appeal to kids but with a hint of sophistication for the adults too.
It took a while to get right, the kitchen sticky with fruit puree. But the flavours were by no means the hardest part. Constructing the things was the real puzzle. First things first though. You see a lot of food blogs doing lovely, old-fashioned-looking lollies with wooden sticks. But unless you want to make industrial quantities it’s difficult to get the moulds.
In the end I settled for these round ones as they were individually removable from the stand and allowed you to use your own sticks. They weren't so exorbitantly expensive when I bought them and they're easy to use. Admittedly though the shape of the moulds themselves and the resultant lollies is a bit… um...
The fruity exteriors of my splits were based on the Strawberry & Pepper recipe in the book by gourmet lolly-makers The Ice Kitchen. I won a copy last summer in a competition to come up with a new flavour and can definitely recommend it for inspiration, should you be bitten by the lolly-making bug. There are so many I want to try but I think Lychee & Lemongrass or Egyptian Hibiscus & Peach are top of the list.
Cesar and Claudia Roden use fresh strawberries blended with sugar syrup but I found I preferred to cook the fruit with the sugar as it gave a more intense result. I liked the idea of adding pepper though and their advice to add a little lemon juice to make the fruit flavour “pop” is spot on.
My go-to ice cream recipe is from lovely Tufnell Park parlour Ruby Violet in their book Ice Cream Deams. In this case I wanted a nostalgic, Mini Milk-ish taste so slightly upped the proportion of milk to cream.
Then came the problem of getting the ice cream inside the lolly shell. At first I tried freezing the fruit mixture around a carrot wrapped in oiled clingfilm. But not only did this make me feel weirdly perverted, it didn’t leave a reliably unbroken shell when removed. Filling what shell there was with ice cream was laborious until I remembered an old Tala icing bag hiding at the back of the cupboard. Used without a nozzle, it did the job admirably.
So I decided to have another go with mango (for a Solero kind of vibe) and try a different technique. I made two lots. For the first I half-froze the fruit puree before making a hole with a wooden spoon handle once it was firm enough to keep its shape. And another where I used a carrot (yes, they were still involved) as the basis of a foil mould for the ice cream "cores". I froze them first then pushed them into a proper mould, half-filled with puree. Both worked fine, but the second method probably gave slightly better results.
(Excuse the photos. Everything was a bit of a mess and I didn't want to get the camera sticky. Also, if you were using the more traditionally shaped moulds, I think half a pack of cards would do you quite well as the basis for the foil shapes.)
So it was all a bit of a faff. But super worth it as these came out delicious. My husband James called them “a taste sensation” and he is a Yorkshireman not given to hyperbole.
Of course, you could just forgo all the faffing about with carrots and foil and icing bags and just mix the fruit and ice cream together in the moulds for a marbled sort of effect which would be just as tasty.
I will definitely be making these again. And when I do I’m going to write my own jokes on the sticks. All suggestions welcome!
This is enough for six lollies of one flavour. If you want to make both, double the ice cream mix.
- 400g strawberries
- 40g sugar
- 10ml vodka (this slightly softens the texture, you can leave it out for kids)
- 10ml lemon juice
- 4 grinds of black pepper
- 2 mangoes
- 2tbsp honey
- juice of half a lime
- 3 pieces of stem ginger in syrup
- 4 cardamom pods
- 300ml double cream
- 150ml whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 50g caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- pinch of salt
- For the strawberries: wash and chop the fruit. Cook with the sugar over a medium heat until the fruit is beginning to break down and go jammy. Then put in a blender with the vodka (if using), lemon juice and pepper. Blend to a smooth puree. For the mangoes do the same but don’t cook the fruit. It can be pureed with the other ingredients from raw. Chill.
- Heat the cream, milk and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Beat the egg yolks and salt in a bowl. Add a ladleful of the cream mixture and beat vigorously, then transfer the egg mixture into the pan, still on a low heat, and stir until the custard thickens. This could take a while, up to 15 minutes. When it’s done the spoon will leave tracks.
- Chill the custard until it’s at least room temperature, preferably colder (put the pan in a sinkful of ice water). Then churn in an ice cream machine until it’s the texture of a McDonalds milkshake (if you don’t have an ice cream machine you can just follow the next step using it as a chilled custard but it will freeze harder).
- Take a carrot (or other item slightly smaller than your mould but similarly shaped) and a piece of tinfoil about six inches square. Wrap the foil around the carrot and make sure there are no gaps or holes. Remove the carrot and keep it for making soup or something.
- Use an icing bag (or a plastic bag with one corner cut off) to pipe the slushy ice cream into the tinfoil mould. You might need to tamp it down once or twice. When it’s full, put in a lolly stick and freeze for 2-3 hours until solid.
- Unwrap the ice cream cores. Pour the chilled fruit puree into the moulds until just under halfway filled.
- Take the frozen ice cream cores and place them in the fruit-filled moulds until the fruit is level with the top of the core.
- Freeze again for at least three hours.
- Bingo! You have Mivvies! Run the moulds under a warm tap for a few seconds to dislodge the lolly then serve.
Ifs and Ands
- Leave both fruit purees plain with just a little citrus juice for a clean summery taste.
- Add finely chopped mint or basil to the strawberry instead of (or as well as) pepper.
- Substitute one of the mangoes with passion fruit, the pulp rubbed through a sieve to remove the seeds. Or use orange juice for a firmer-set, more lolly-like, shell.
- Instead of making the ice cream yourself use a readymade supermarket custard churned in your machine. Frozen yoghurt would work well too: add honey to Greek yoghurt and churn. Not quite as traditional but equally delicious.