Frozen yogurt is going through a bit of a makeover. Soft serve that tastes like ice cream is out while creamy swirls that burst with the flavor of real yogurt are in. Shops serving cups of froyo that burst with yogurt's innate natural tartness are opening everywhere. Forget my favorite college flavor of orange, which tasted more like creamy ice cream that had been melded with baby aspirin. Today's frozen yogurt highlights sweet fruit flavors and is enticingly tangy.
After a few trips to some yogurt shops where four servings cost around $20 -- because let's face it, the new frozen yogurt chains are more expensive than the old ones -- I decided to try making my own concoctions. I found that if you have an ice-cream maker (the kind where you pre-freeze the canister), frozen yogurt is remarkably easy to make. It's also nice to be able to control your own ingredients. You can choose to use organic and nonfat yogurt, or luxuriate in a treat made with creamy whole milk. You can also opt to sweeten your dessert with sugar, or go for a healthier alternative like fruit juice or honey -- it's all up to you.
I experimented with whole fat, nonfat and Greek yogurts and found that although whole fat and Greek yogurts freeze better, nonfat frozen yogurt desserts can be creamy and soft -- just eat them within an hour or two of churning. This isn't hard to do as homemade froyo tastes so rich and creamy straight out of the ice cream maker that it's easy to eat the whole batch with a few friends. But if you want to freeze it ahead of time, make your batch with whole yogurt. It will be harder than ice cream, but still scoopable. There are also some frozen yogurt recipes out there where you incorporate your yogurt into an egg custard, much as you would when making homemade ice cream. I had no desire to stand over the stove on a hot day when we all just wanted a quick and fun dessert, but those recipes are out there if you're interested.
Following are a few recipes you can try for your own frozen yogurt adventures. If you have kids or aren't super fond of yogurt's innate tartness, I suggest using vanilla or a fruit-flavored yogurt for your initiation to this homemade frozen treat. Although my kids liked my first batch of peach frozen yogurt (made with plain nonfat yogurt strained overnight), they adored all combinations made with vanilla whole yogurt.