City Bites

GADGET WATCH: Zoku “Quick Pop” Maker, a hot trend and a truly cool innovation

The Zoku makes pretty gourmet popsicles in minutes and you control the ingredient list

If you’re like me, you have an ice cream maker collecting dust somewhere in your kitchen, waiting to make an appearance at the next garage sale. It was exciting to think about the possibilities for making my own ice cream and to control the quality of ingredients within. I’d grown tired of freezing my fingers off while reading long ingredient lists on cartons in the freezer aisle — discouraged by the prevalence of corn syrup and myriad un-pronounceable words. But making ice cream at home required some cooking and too much pre-planning and soon it was clear this was another one bound for the gadget graveyard.

But when the folks at C.A. Paradis told me about a gourmet popsicle maker that produces homemade frozen treats in minutes (less than 10 minutes from start-to-finish once the contraption spends 24 hours in the freezer) I was intrigued. So they gave me a Zoku to test out at home. I rallied the assistance of a five year-old popsicle enthusiast and we made our first batch of Quick Pops.

We had a bag of frozen peaches, strawberries and mangoes that were destined for smoothies and decided to turn this idea into our first batch of popsicles. We blended the fruit with plain yogourt, milk, and maple syrup, and made it just liquidy enough to pour into the molds. Seven minutes later we were eating smoothie-cicles!

They were great, but that only scratches the surface of what the Zoku can do. Look at the photos on the box (or check the Zoku blog) to get an idea of the possibilities — colourful layers and stripes, marbled or zigzags as well as pretty little chunks of fruit or fudge or cookie crumbs. It takes practice to get really good at all the tricks, but that seems to me to be to be the real genius of this gadget. In addition to making tasty treats, it’s like a little art project. Great for kids but really fun for all. Of course there are recipes, videos, and tips on the website as well as a cookbook and a bunch of helpful props available as well (like an angled tray, and the clever fruit wand). Who can resist miniature cookie cutters? Heart or star-shaped fruit “stencils” allow contrasting colour and adorable shapes to be added to the the inside of popsicles.

I got home from a bike ride this morning and tossed thin slices of lemon in the Zoku along with lemonade. A few minutes later I was in cool lemon heaven. With temperatures soaring, I like the idea of freezing a shot of espresso, sugar, and cream too.

It strikes me that this gadget will more than justify its price ($49.95) before the summer is through. And it will be a godsend for people with food allergies or a preference for alternate sweeteners. Let’s just say, it’s the final nail in the coffin for over-priced supermarket fruit popsicles and the old ice cream maker.

Zoku available at C.A Paradis, 1314 Bank Street, 613-731-2866,