Emily Zaiden’s Popshop may not have its own storefront, but her L.A. popsicle cart (and pops) still gets around. She sells at farmers’ markets and special events, and sells her pops wholesale to several Los Angeles-area shops. We caught up with Emily to ask her a few questions about her passion for pops. Plus, for those of you who, like us, can’t make it to L.A. for a taste of the goods, we snagged a recipe for you to try at home:
Why popsicles? What made you first decide to open a popsicle shop?
I have always been a frozen dessert fanatic, and three summers ago, at the height of a heat wave, I decided to make adult pops for a dinner party with friends. I made them in unusual flavors – lemon ginger, lime mint mojito (with and without the rum!), white peach amaretto, and many more. They were a BIG hit, so I kept experimenting with flavor combinations and ingredients. I couldn’t stop!
What makes your pops special?
Our pops are made with seasonal, local, farmers’ market produce, sweetened with organic sugar (never high fructose corn syrup, of course), and we never use additives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, dyes, or preservatives. They’re nothing but the real deal – we allow pure fruits to shine through without over-sweetening the pops. Additionally, we have a line of creamy flavors (avocado vanilla, Mexican chocolate, bananas foster and more) that are riffs on Pudding Pops and Fudgesicles of the past (but all our pops are vegan/non-dairy).
Our flavor combinations push the boundaries for popsicles into a more sophisticated realm. As for the kids, we hope that by eating Popshop pops they learn what real fruit tastes like, not what imitation flavors and dye tastes like, which is what is basically out there on store shelves.
Popsicles seem universally popular when it’s hot out, but do you notice any particular flavor preferences between adults and kids?
Definitely. Kids love pops any time of the day or year. They also have very sensitive, pure palates. Overly strong flavors are more intense to them. I have many kid-customers who are adventurous eaters – many who love lemon basil and avocado vanilla – but also a lot of others who stick to the classic strawberry lemonade, which is always the big hit with kids. Kids also often choose based on color, which I always find amusing.
What’s the best popsicle recipe you’ve ever made? The worst?
That’s tough! My favorite flavor changes all the time, based on my mood, what I eat, what I crave, the weather, or any number of factors. Lately I’m loving our Meyer lemon ginger, watermelon lime, lemon basil, pineapple Thai basil, and chili chocolate. But ask me next week and I’ll have a different list! Also, we recently experimented with coffee-cognac pops and those were kind of amazing, I must say. We’ll be bringing those out very soon.
The worst would probably be a couple of recipes with jalapeño: mango jalapeño, cucumber jalapeño, and chocolate jalapeño. We do several flavors with chili, and they’re great with that kick of heat, but we learned that jalapeños are not the ideal peppers to use for these recipes, because they have a very strong savory quality that just doesn’t work in a dessert, in my opinion.
Do you have any tips for someone experimenting with their own popsicle flavors at home?
Just go wild – the possibilities are endless!
BLUEBERRY LEMONADE POPSHOP POPS
1 pint blueberries
1/3 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c. organic cane sugar
4 c. filtered water
Combine all ingredients in blender on high until thoroughly and evenly macerated. Then, pour liquid through strainer or fine mesh sieve into pitcher. Pour strained liquid into popsicle molds and freeze for at least four hours until solidly frozen.
Makes 16 pops.