I am always ranting about how much I like ice cream that I often forget to mention that I am a huge fro-yo fan too! I enjoy bringing my son to those “make your own fro-yo” shops where you get to choose a flavour and pile on as much junk as you want. The novelty wears off quickly when you get to the cash register and realize that one simple frozen yogurt treat costs in excess of $7! Not to mention the amount of unnecessary sugar that is piled on top of the frozen yogurt. Now, I get it, frozen yogurt is sometimes looked at as a healthier alternative to ice cream, and in some ways it is, but only if it is made in your own home and minus the excessive amount of unnecessary toppings.
Last year around this time I posted about one step frozen yogurt. I purchased full fat frozen yogurt, whirled it in my ice cream maker and it was creamy and cold. I threw the remainder into my freezer and that’s when everything went down hill. When I decided to eat my leftovers, I quickly realized that the frozen yogurt was a block of ice – not creamy at all! I have since deleted that post from my blog. Fast forward to this year, I was working on a private magazine publication for Lady York Foods (Toronto) summertime magazine and I wanted to develop a recipe for creamy frozen yogurt squares. I knew that freezing plain yogurt wouldn’t work so I read up on the science behind getting creamy frozen yogurt. Max Falkowitz, National Editor at Serious Eats does a great job at unraveling the science behind creamy frozen yogurt. I summarize his research here for you and I’ve developed a recipe using my new found knowledge.
Real home made frozen yogurt only requires two ingredients – yes that’s it! (Not as appealing as one but the result is a much creamier frozen yogurt – trust me!) To make frozen yogurt you can scoop out of a container nicely, you need to add one ingredient to it – sugar. The more sugar you add, the creamier your dessert becomes. The reason adding sugar gives you a creamier frozen yogurt? Sugar molecules get in the way of growing ice crystals (which can make your ice cream hard and icy) and allows your frozen dessert to become smooth and creamy. So, there you have it, the only way to get your frozen yogurt to a creamy and scoopable consistency is to add sugar to it (and more than you would add into your ice cream because ice cream has extra fat and egg yolks to help enhance its texture). Max says to treat frozen yogurt like you would treat sorbet – following a master ratio of 1 cup of sugar for every 4 cups of liquid. Since most yogurt containers fall slightly short of 4 cups (3 and ¾ cups), and for ease, we can say 1 cup of sugar to 3 and ¾ cups yogurt. In weight measurement that’s 7 ounces of sugar to 32 ounces of yogurt. Here is my plain frozen yogurt. Look how pretty it scoops! And it is SO creamy!
- 1 quart (3¾ cups) full-fat plain yogurt
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- Add your yogurt to a medium sized mixing bowl and add a cup of sugar and a pinch of salt to it.
- Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and refrigerate until the yogurt is really cold (5-7 hours).
- Then using a spatula, turn the yogurt into the drum of your ice cream maker and churn according to your ice cream makers instructions.
What kind of yogurt should you use? The best kind of yogurt to use is full fat yogurt. Full fat yogurt results in a creamier texture. Fat free yogurt and yogurt made with skim milk give a harsh tart flavour and contain more water. Greek yogurt is also not favourable when it comes to making frozen yogurt. Greek yogurt has more fat and protein so it becomes too creamy – and chewy when frozen. Max does say there are some benefits of using Greek yogurt: You could cut it with plain yogurt to make a richer frozen yogurt akin to ice cream. I did try this and it worked out great for me!
Now that we are on the topic, there are 3 ways to add flavour to your frozen yogurt: Infusion, mix-in, and toppings. I have put these tips to the test in my frozen yogurt squares recipe – which includes a fruit mix-in and a coconut topping. Just like max, I have tried the mix-ins and infusing options but my favourite way of adding flavour is by way of toppings. Some great toppings are coconut, chopped nuts, chopped fruit and chocolate shavings. Some ideas on how to infuse flavour into your frozen yogurt: grate some citrus zest right into your frozen yogurt and while it is getting really cold in your fridge, the flavour will infuse into your yogurt. Churn as per usual. If you want to add ginger or mint flavour, Grate ginger or add freshly chopped mint right into your yogurt, cool as instructed earlier, then strain out the chunks before churning. For mix-ins, I add these in during the last 5 minutes of the churning process. Some mix-ins I like to use are fruit purees, chunks of fruit that have been tossed and set in some sugar to remove some of the water content (so they don’t act like cubes of ice), chocolate chunks or coconut flakes.
Max says it best “The key with any flavoring is to stick with additions that have some savory or sour flavors to balance out the yogurt’s sweetness. Remember: real frozen yogurt is all about balance: sweet and tart, fresh and creamy, milky and fruity.”
I hope you like the recipe I developed – It’s got a chocolate cookie base! Personally, I enjoy these squares with no fruit incorporated into the yogurt. I like them best plain, with just some coconut sprinkled on top! These are also great to pack on picnics (in a cooler, of course!)
- 2 cups (500 ml) Chocolate cookie baking crumbs
- 2 tbsp (25 mls) granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ⅓ cup (75 mls) butter, melted
- 3 ¾ cups coconut full fat yogurt (not greek)
- 1 cup sugar
- Optional: chopped berries
- 1 cup Sweetened shredded coconut, divided
- Line 9-inch (2.5 L) square metal baking pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper, making sure there is overhang on the sides.
- Base: In a medium bowl, combine chocolate crumbs and sugar, stir in butter and massage ingredients together until crumbs are evenly coated with butter. Press evenly into bottom of pan and use the flat side of a cup to press down firmly, making sure the base is tightly packed. Place in freezer while making the filling.
- On a frying pan set to medium high heat, toast coconut until lightly golden brown, stirring constantly to avoid over browning.
- Filling: Whisk together the sugar, salt and yogurt until the sugar is completely dissolved. Chill in ice bath until temperature is 45 degrees Farenheit (ideally in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours or overnight). Churn yogurt in ice cream maker according to instructions. Add in chopped berries if using and incorporate.
- Remove square pan from freezer and using a spatula, spread yogurt in a thick even layer over the cookie crumb base. Top with sliced berries and toasted coconut flakes. Freeze for 4-5 hours before serving.
- Using a sharp knife, cut squares into evenly sized squares. Arrange on serving platter and serve slightly thawed (about 10 minutes outside of the freezer to allow for creamier texture).