Ice Tray Treats: Effortless Chilled Desserts That Everyone Will Love by Olivia Mack McCool
My rating: 5/5 cats
WELCOME TO JULY PROJECT!! JULY PROJECT IS OVER!!! this month, i will make tiny things in ice cube trays, only some of which will be actual ice, or even involving the freezer. mind = blown!
JULY 1: Chocolate Peppermint Truffles
holy shit, this worked! i made chocolates! i may have been a little heavy-handed with the peppermint extract, because these were aggressively minty, and there’s going to be a learning curve around “popping these things out of the ice trays,” but they were still tasty. i will also get better with the pictures/writeups as this project goes on; this is day one, i just got home from work, and it has been a LONG day, so enjoy this for now, tomorrow will be better. AGGRESSIVE MINTS, I HAVE MADE THEM!
JULY 2: Mint Ice Cubes
okay, this one might not be the most parade-stopping of recipes, but it’s pretty and you know it. and in these terrible july summer-bummer days when 75% of my body is being brought to a boil and/or leaking out of my pores, mint water is a very welcome body-coolant. and they pair well with mint truffles.
JULY 3: Spiced Mexican Chocolates
ok, to respond to the request that these be rated in terms of “effortlessness,” this one falls under EASY AS PIE. or, since it takes quite a lot of effort to make pie crust, MUCH MUCH EASIER THAN PIE. you can’t tell from the picture, but these are very spicy with cinnamon and cayenne pepper and i was pretty dumpy with both of them, so—XTRA SPICE! so far, this project is a delicious good time. LGM.
JULY 4: Grapefruit and Rosemary Jelly
herby-fruity little wigglers! the recipe just said “grapefruit juice,” so i made one batch with pink and one batch with golden grapefruits. these are weird little treats; they are goopier than gummies, but too firm to be, like, toast-jelly. i ate them with a spoon; i’m not sure what the point of them is, but they tasted good. and—vitamins! effort level: 3? it involves steeping and sieving and other cooking-verbs, so it’s more effort than making ice cubes, but none of these recipes are intimidating. titles don’t lie!
JULY 5: Jelly Doughnut Crispy Rice Treats AND Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats
these are both the most delicious cubes i have made so far. the pb ones might have the slightest of edges over the jelly, on account of my love for peanut butter, but if i ever had to choose between them, i would shove them all in my mouth at once and say “choose between what?”
they are not rivals, they are friends!
some effort required, but utterly worth it.
JULY 6: Buttermilk and Honey Panna Cotta
HEY RICHARD! did you know you can make panna cotta without using PEEPS®? is true! here is one, covered in honey and freshly cracked pepper. because why not put pepper on your desserts? i did not predict this would be as tasty as it was, and with only a medium-amount of effort. plus, i already had some buttermilk frozen in different ice cube trays, so it was a double thematic win!
i am only now realizing that this looks like a urinal. ew.
JULY 7: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches
these are delicious and pretty damn easy, except for the “locating peanut butter cookies” part of it, for to make the crust. i ended up using nutter butter cereal instead of cookies, since i already had that on hand, and i couldn’t even find regular nutter butters in my ‘hood, not that i could have used those because filling, but still, where have all the peanut butter cookies gone? is it time for me to start my own PB cookie business and dominate the market? i will start by making these. who will thrust their monies at me? do i need to sweeten the pot with dinosaurs?
because i will.
JULY 8: Mango Lassi Froyo Pops
because some things just taste better shaped like cephalopods.
JULY 9: Goat Cheese and Blueberry Cheesecake
i should conclude this project right now, because i do not know how anything could be any more delicious than these teeny tiny cheesecakes. there was a lot of effort involved, if you count the effort required to restrain myself from eating every last one before i had a chance to photograph them. and now, if you will excuse me…NOM NOM NOM
JULY 10: Peach Raspberry Ice Pops
these pops are both pretty AND perfectly refreshing treats in this most terrible of all seasons. it takes some getting used to, sucking on a frozen cube and all, but some people might be better-equipped to handle it
and now i have (quite effortlessly) made one item from each of the book’s ten chapters
JULY 11: Lemon Ice Cubes
these were much better (and equally effortless) than (as) the mint ones, because when these eventually melt, you don’t end up with some plant-mustache clinging annoyingly to your lip like you’re some kind of bottom-feeding fish. plus, you push the threat of scurvy one step back. get thee behind me, scurvy &etc.
JULY 12: Chocolate Coconut Truffles
these may look exactly like AGGRESSIVE MINT TRUFFLES, but they have ZERO mint in them, and AN ABUNDANCE of coconut. unaggressive, but toothsome, and very very sweet. sweet enough to carry your momma’s groceries to the car (with a minimum of effort).
JULY 13: Creamsicle Jelly
these didn’t photograph pretty, which is partially due to the mercurial lighting in my house and partially because the jellies are particularly hard to pop out. the book suggests submerging the bottom of the tray into hot water, but maybe my water is always TOO hot, because that just makes ’em re-liquefy, and then their shape is even worse. whatever, these didn’t last long enough to bitch about; they were very tasty uggoes. a medium on the effort-spectrum.
JULY 14: Mango and Ginger Cheesecake
more tiny cheesecakes! these were not as good as the blueberry ones, but they were still little tasty nomnoms (with equal effort expenditure), and their gingerbread hats (the blueberry ones were speculoos), were spectacular.
JULY 15: Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Pretzel Truffles
i have become much better at popping the chocolate-based ones out, at least. and my reward is this little nugget, which took one look at what i said up there about the krispies and later the blueberry cheesecake cubes and SCOFFED, shaking its pretzel tailfeathers all across my countertop roaring “BUT I AM THE MOST DELICIOUS OF THEM ALL!” and that nugget was right. very little effort, very much payoff.
JULY 16: Salted Caramel Panna Cotta
delicious, if you like effort. don’t be fooled by its pretty face, this one’s a real jerk. i mean, it’s probably one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” situations, but i had to make the caramel part of this three times before i got it right, and it’s not like i haven’t made caramel before. anyway, long story short: i’m out of sugar.
A) CRUNCH ‘N MUNCH
B) FIDDLE FADDLE
JULY 17: Fruit and Nut Chocolates
these animals are GLAMPING WITH CUBES in a HAUNTED FOREST and THEY LOVE IT! no effort except for what it took to arrange the tableau, and the general everyday effort of ‘finding the will to live/get out of bed/keep hope alive &etc.’ but the chocolate part of the day was easy. LGM.
JULY 18: Breakfast Parfait Pops
stand aside, snap and crackle, we only care about pop now: pop pop POP! yogurt and honey and granola and fruit is breakfast on a STICK! i stuffed three different kinds of fruit in here and am hogging all their vitamins. effort? do you think it is too much effort to cut blueberries in half? if so, you can go eat those other krispie boys.
JULY 19: Strawberry Jelly
because of climate change, we can longer have nice things, not even cubes of strawberry jelly. summer was already the worst idea anyone ever had and now it’s just unbearable. these cubes died today because of all the hairspray in the 80s. fair trade, yes or no? effort: today is nothing but effort. i am melting and nothing is cubed and sweat is repulsive.
JULY 20: Vanilla and Raspberry Cheesecake
these look how i feel: defeated. deef-heat-ed. they are delicious as all get-out, but MAN, are they schlumpy. effort the same as most of the others: minimal, but trying to keep them in their cubeshapes long enough to photograph them during this heatwave was challenging. i think i used too much jelly, but that is only because raspberry jelly is delicious.
JULY 21: Iced Coffee Cubes
i am fighting the heat with ice: cubes of coffee IN coffee. minds=blown. i even overcreamed the coffee for maximum photographic contrast and that is all the brainpower i have in me for one day. you’re on your own until this heatwave goes back to hell. if i die, remember me fondly. drip, drip.
JULY 22: Orange and Hazelnut Chocolates
well, i made it through the heatwave. it’s time to celebrate with chocolates. these are freaking delicious, and as far as the scale of effort goes, these (and all the ones in the “chocolate” chapter) require next to no effort, making them even more delicious.
JULY 23: Banana Pudding Ice Cream Sandwiches
ICE CREAM SAMMIES, BOYO!! and the hot-but-not-soul-killingly-hot weather means i didn’t have to risk these things melting as i photographed them.
i’m not sure if you can see, but there’s an honest-to-goodness banana round in each of these babies for all the potassiums. potassi-YUMS! these are excellent treats—nilla-wafer banana pudding is one of my favorite desserts, and this is all of that, except tiny and frozen and cubed. well worth the (minimal) effort.
JULY 24: Key Lime Pie Ice Pops
these will all be rolled in those graham cracker crumbs, but i wanted to photograph some of them in the nood because the color of the pops is very pretty. another delicious stick-treat, and anytime i get to use my microplane, i’m a happy girl. easy-peasy and very refreshing on a summery day.
JULY 25: Tahini Swirl Chocolates
EFFORTLESS CHOCOLATE FULL OF SEEDS! and now i have sesames growing in my tummy! and the birds are approaching ! oh NOOOOOOOOOOO!
JULY 26: Tahini and Sea Salt Crispy Rice Treats
two tahinis in a row! TWOHINIS!!! anyway. these were very tasty, but also the most boring-looking things i have made from this book.
so i decided to zazz them up a bit with tiny naked children wearing unskulled (deskulled?) animal faces on their heads. is like lord of the flies, kawaii edition.
eyes down here, pal!
JULY 27: Chocolate and Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches
WINNER WINNER ICE CREAM DINNER! i suppose if i put my mind to it, i’d be able to think of another food i might want to eat again someday. but honestly, right now? all i want to eat for the foreseeable future is DEEZ NUTS! DEEZ NUTS FOR DAYS! nearly effortless, and the chocolate ‘bread’ tastes JUST like ice cream cake crunchies. i have officially ruined myself for every other taste.
JULY 28: Pina Colada Jelly
no time to dawdle; two hours until SHARK WEEK! pretend these are jelly-fish, effortlessly gliding through the reef, feeding their pineapple and coconut layers to the friendly sharks they encounter. i am almost out of space w/ 3 more cubes to go, so shhhh!
JULY 29: Raspberry and Almond Crispy Rice Treats
these came out kind of looking like chumblocks, which brought on a SHARK WEEK FEEDING FRENZY!
my chumblocks bring all the sharks to the yard, sans effort.
JULY 30: Ginger and Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwiches
you’d think, 30 days into a 31-day project, i’d’ve figured out how to pop these babies out effortlessly, and YET! this one was stubborn as balls, for some reason, and everything got messy. as balls. almost out of room here, so: yum yum k thx bye.
JULY 31: Vanilla and Graham Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches
hello, hello, hello
these were classic, scrumptious, and effortless. a wonderful finish to a very enjoyable monthly project.
i especially like how they all have their own little personalities, like this is some ice cream version of a dog show:
this one is your classic purebred breeder’s choice
this is the puppy version of that buddy—same great lines with a little rowdy mischief thrown in
and these guys are the dark horse fan favorites—all scrappy and goofy and rumpled sweetness.
muddled bloodlines, chronically disobedient, but loyal as all get out
AND I ATE THEM ALL!!!! i have judged you all to be: DELICIOUS!
JULY PROJECT WRAPUP:
SO! i managed to squeeze 32 recipes into a 31-day month, and this ended up being one of my favorite monthly projects ever. there are definitely recipes i will make again in the future, and i have already made another batch of those chocolate/pb/pretzel truffles for a couple of birthday pals. all in all, this was well-worth the ten bucks i spent buying a couple of silicon ice trays.
table of contents—the ones in bold type are the ones i didn’t get around to making:
FLAVORED ICE CUBES
Matcha Latte Cubes
Iced Coffee Cubes
Lemon Ice Cubes
Mint Ice Cubes
Spiced Mexican Chocolates
Fruit and Nut Chocolates
Tahini Swirl Chocolates
Orange and Hazelnut Chocolates
White Chocolate with Macadamia Nuts and Coconut
Chocolate Coconut Truffles
Chocolate Peppermint Truffles
Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Pretzel Truffles
Arnold Palmer Jelly
Grapefruit and Rosemary Jelly
Pina Colada Jelly
Breakfast Parfait Pops
Chocolate and Almond Butter Swirl Froyo Pops
Maple and Spice Froyo Pops
Mango Lassi Froyo Pops
Vietnamese Coffee Ice Pops
Peach Raspberry Ice Pops
Coconut Chai Tea Ice Pops
Key Lime Pie Ice Pops
Mango and Ginger Cheesecake
Vanilla and Raspberry Cheesecake
Goat Cheese and Blueberry Cheesecake
Vanilla Panna Cotta
Salted Caramel Panna Cotta
Green Tea Panna Cotta
Coconut and Passion Fruit Panna Cotta
Buttermilk and Honey Panna Cotta
ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
Vanilla and Graham Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches
Ginger and Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwiches
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches
Banana Pudding Ice Cream Sandwiches
Chocolate and Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches
CRISPY RICE TREATS
Jelly Doughnut Crispy Rice Treats
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats
Tahini and Sea Salt Crispy Rice Treats
Raspberry and Almond Crispy Rice Treats
as you can probably tell, i’m not really into tea/coffee flavors in my desserts, and most of the ones i skipped have some sort of matcha/mocha/chai/coffee element. as for the rest—maybe someday? i am officially a fan of cubes.
i considered using this book for a future project: Ice Cube Tray Recipes: 75 Easy and Creative Kitchen Hacks for Freezing, Cooking, and Baking with Ice Cube Trays, which i thought would be fun because it is a (mostly) savory version of this book, but it requires a number of differently-shaped trays, including novelty shapes like cactus, which i don’t need in my life, and the recipes didn’t even seem fun or even improved by being made in an ice tray, so i said “forget YOU, book!” let me know if i have made an error in judgment.