Nostalgia on a Stick (and a give away!)

June 18, 201430 Comments

Right about this time of year – when you can count the days of school left on one hand (if you live in DC, where we like our school years practically bumping up to Independence Day) and when we’ve traded short-lived, temperate spring days for humid-and-nearly-unbearable – I begin digging in my cabinets for my ice pop molds. You know the ones. I used them to make these peachy numbers last summer and these minty watermelon ones the summer before that. They’re the same molds I used to make these slightly wacky, salad-inspired two-toned treats that appeared in the Washington Post.

Ice pop making is sort of like ice cream making for me – we do it once a year, we have great fun, we say we should do it more often, then we push the equipment to the back of the cabinet until the next summer when the cycle begins all over again. Inevitably, some part of the set is missing. Either I can’t find all 10 molds, which are randomly scattered throughout the cabinet. Or the metal top that holds the sticks is wedged between a casserole dish and the base to my traveling bundt cake holder. Why should this year be any different? I located six of the 10 molds.
The release of Jennifer Steinhauer’s new book, Treat Yourself, couldn’t be better timed. It’s as if she walked up and down the aisles of the grocery store and recreated all the foods your kids want you to buy, to which you reply “Ask Grandma next time you visit.” Based on her own fond childhood memories, Jennifer developed recipes for nostalgic treats like hostess cupcakes, moon pies, nilla wafers, nutter butters and mint milanos (savory stuff too – funyun, anyone?) using real ingredients like butter, sugar and good old all-purpose flour. The book is divided into sections by type of treat. I can honestly say it’s the only cookbook I own with chapters like “Snack Cakes” (chapter 3) and “Fruity Treats and Filled Things” (chapter 4).

I attended Jennifer’s book party last week, where I picked up two signed copies – one copy for me and one for you. (Yes, you! Well, one of you. See details at the bottom and it could be on its way to you faster than you can say “Chicken in a Biskit.”) Jennifer covers Congress for The New York Times and I’m sure her reporting is unbiased, accurate and all-around terrific. I try to pay as little attention as possible to what’s going on across town, so I can’t tell you for sure. But it’s clear her heart – and her funniest writing – follows her stomach. You may be familiar with her frank, deliciously acerbic writing style from her Food52 column, Weeknights with Jenny. Now that, I read. The same dry wit and charming prose is woven into the chapter intros and headnotes of her new book. A favorite passage – “In the pantheon of all things great, doesn’t ice cream fall roughly somewhere between women’s suffrage and the polio vaccine?” Right on, sister. So of course, the first recipe I tried came from chapter 7, “Frozen Treats.” Heck yes.
To be fair, the recipe I had my eye on – pudding pops – didn’t even call for my ice pop molds. It in fact called for wax-lined Dixie cups. Since I was only able to find the kiddie-sized paper kind used for bathroom dispensers and since I had found a whole six out of 10 ice pop molds, I decided to try out a few in cups and a few in the old pop molds just to see how they came out.

The recipe starts with good old-fashioned pudding. As I stood over the stove stirring and stirring, I realized I have never actually made pudding. Ever. Why didn’t someone tell me about this?! The recipe is so simple and straightforward that I only altered it the tiniest smidge by adding a little pure vanilla extract. I think deep chocolate flavor only gets better with a whisper of vanilla. (This is my barely tweaked version of the chocolate pudding pop.) From there, the pudding cools in the fridge before it’s spooned into molds, cups or if you’re me, both. I had the hardest time with this step. I just wanted to eat the pudding out of the bowl and call it a day. Good thing the camera stared me down and kept me honest otherwise you’d just be reading a lot of words and my guesses as to how these might work.
I don’t know about you, but I think the shape and container in which some things are served make a big difference. So I tried pops from both the Dixie cup batch as well as the mold batch. I enjoyed them equally. The Dixie cup portions were a tad smaller (about 3 ounces, compared to 4 ounces in the molds) but equally easy to eat. Both stayed on the stick until the last few melty bites. Is there anything more upsetting than losing that last little wedge to the porch floor?
I’d love to say I’ll be cranking out frozen desserts on sticks all summer long but I think we both know better. I will instead direct my energy towards checking out a few more childhood wonders, like mint meltaways from Fannie May. Remember those, fellow Chicagoans?

So who is getting this book anyway? Enter to win a signed copy of Jennifer’s book by telling me below which nostalgic treat you’d love to make in your own kitchen. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner next week!

06.27.14 UPDATE! The winner of the book “Treat Yourself” is Irina (lucky number 3!). Congrats, Irina and enjoy. 

30 responses to “Nostalgia on a Stick (and a give away!)”

  1. Michele says:

    Grew up eating my mom’s homemade version of a ‘Buster Bar’ from DQ.

  2. Dana says:

    I’d love to make a vegan version of banana cream pie-reminds me of summer camp!

  3. irina says:

    A hostess cupcake!

    • Alicia says:

      Those are in the book. I got to taste them at the book party. Mighty convincing but less fake tasting than the real thing (which is, of course, a good thing).

      • Mairin says:

        Oh goodness, mint meltaways…mmmm, cannot have those in my house! I’ve got 2 items. The first since you ate talking frozen treats is a dreamcicle. The second is trying to replicate my Nana’s custard based rhubarb pie 🙂

        • Alicia says:

          Mairin, there is a creamsicle recipe in the book! I should try them as long as I’ve got six out of 10 pop molds (could be down to three by next year at the rate I’m going!). I totally missed the rhubarb this year. 🙁 Boo!

  4. Nikki says:

    I always pick fudgecicles from the ice cream truck, so I might just try these out with my new popsicle molds.

    • Alicia says:

      They’re pretty close to fudgsicles! I liked those as a kid, too, but I’ve tried to buy them a few times as an adult and I can’t get past the ingredient list. Disgusting. And you can hardly find any made with real sugar anymore! They’re mostly made with artificial sweeteners.

  5. Annette says:

    My favorite as a kid were Hostess Apple Pie.

    • Alicia says:

      I don’t remember the apple pie from Hostess…but I do remember the ones from McDonald’s! They had cherry pie, too. Probably still do, for all I know.

  6. Annette says:

    Hostess Apple Pie. So yummy after school.

  7. mary says:

    Nutter butters!

  8. Lisa says:

    I was just talking about pudding pops in Dixie cups to the kids! Loved those. But one of my favorite childhood treats was Honeymaid graham crackers dipped in milk. I have yet to taste a homemade graham cracker that taste just like that!

    • Alicia says:

      I’ve never tried to make graham crackers. There is a recipe for them in the book! I’ll let you know if I attempt them.

  9. Abby Diamond says:

    It’s a toss-up between a chipwich and funnel cake. Although there is something I make every summer because I can’t get it in the northeast: sweet tea!

    • Alicia says:

      Thank goodness sweet tea doesn’t require a deep fryer, right? I have no idea how to make funnel cakes but I’m pretty sure you need one critical piece of equipment.

  10. Gail says:

    My favorite treat of all time is/was Hostess Devil Dogs! We still buy them every time we’re visiting my family in NY since you can’t buy them in California where we live.

    • Alicia says:

      I think you’ve stumped me. I don’t know what a Devil Dog is (probably because I’m from Chicago and live in DC)! Next time I’m in NY I’ll have to see if I can find them.

  11. Nanda says:

    Girl Scouts thin mints! I’ve seen recipes for these but haven’t dared make them yet.

  12. Christina Steiner says:

    Oooh – any of the Hostess cakes, especially Twinkies (the old ones, not the new filling!). And Pop Tarts! I loved the Brown Sugar Cinnamon ones.

    • Alicia says:

      Christina, I got to try the Twinkies at the book party. I was never a fan of Twinkies (old or new) but these were pretty taste. There is also a recipe for strawberry pop tarts (no frosting) in the book and instructions for making the brown sugar kind. I had a real thing for those in college (and then again during my second pregnancy).

  13. Pua says:

    I had a thing for Fig Newtons! There was something about the chewiness of them that I enjoyed.

    • Alicia says:

      There is a recipe for Fig Newtons in the book. I didn’t like them as a kid but I grew to like them as an adult. They are sort of an acquired taste, I think.

  14. Tammi says:

    Funny Bones – these were chocolate snack cakes filled with peanut butter creme and covered in “chocolate” (or whatever that waxy brown stuff was. We used to get them as dessert at lunch sometimes (YES, peanut butter at school!). We would unwrap the gold foil around them and work on rubbing them on the table edge to get a perfect, wrinkle-free, super-smooth gold leaf-like sheet. Ah, nostalgia!

    • Alicia says:

      I had never heard of Funny Bones, but there is a recipe for them in the book, too. Right? Peanut butter at school. Ha. Times have changed.

  15. charj says:

    I would like to make a vegan version of Sara Lee Brownies.

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