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.
It's also worth noting that even when I used the more expensive organic and local yogurt varieties, the cost of a batch of homemade frozen yogurt still never exceeded $5 -- a pretty nice price for a fun summer dessert that fed four people.
Peach Frozen Yogurt
This recipe uses peaches, but you could easily use any other summer stone fruit (including cherries). I used nonfat yogurt, which was perfectly creamy straight from the ice cream maker. My daughter had a second helping a couple of hours after I stuck the leftovers in the freezer and the texture was still velvety. The peach nectar measurement variation from 1/4 - 1/2 cup is dependent on how thick your yogurt is after adding the pureed peaches. If you're using regular or nonfat yogurt, you will need less, but if include Greek or strained yogurt, you'll probably need to add a bit more.
Makes: 4-6 servings
2 cups strained nonfat or whole milk yogurt
1 cup peaches peeled, chopped and pureed
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup peach nectar (I used Kerns) (measurement varies according to taste and
1. If straining yogurt, do so at least 4-6 hours ahead of time by placing your yogurt in cheesecloth and tying it at the top. Then set the package in a strainer set over a large bowl or container to catch the liquids. After a few hours your yogurt will be so thick and creamy it will look more like cream cheese.
2. Peel, chop and puree your peaches until smooth.
3. Place peach puree and sugar in a small pot and heat until sugar melts into the peaches. Cool mixture. You can also just add simple syrup instead of sugar to the peaches if you have some on hand.
4. Once peach puree mixture is cool, set up your ice cream maker so it's ready to go.
5. Take the yogurt out of the refrigerator and place in a large bowl. Mix in the peach puree and peach nectar. Taste and add more nectar if needed.
6. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn as you would normally make ice cream. Serve when frozen and creamy or place in the freezer for 1-2 hours.
Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt
This recipe uses a heated peanut butter, sugar and water combination, which flavors the yogurt beautifully and provides a nice backdrop for toppings, such as chocolate jimmies, crumbled peanut butter cups, or M & Ms. I used nonfat plain yogurt, but will use vanilla flavored yogurt next time as I think it will nicely compliment the peanut butter flavors. I also recommend against using strained yogurt in this recipe as the peanut butter is already thick enough.
Note: the measurements for this recipe vary according to taste. If you like your frozen yogurt light and tangy, then use 1/2 cup peanut butter and sugar; if you like a more pronounced peanut butter flavor, then go with the 3/4 measurements.
Makes: 4-6 servings
1/2 - 3/4 creamy peanut butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
2 cups nonfat or whole vanilla-flavored yogurt (not strained)
1/4 cup water
1. Place peanut butter, sugar and water in a pot and set on medium heat. Heat mixture while constantly stirring until peanut butter and sugar are melted into each other. If mixture is too thick (you should be able to easily stir the peanut butter), add a little more water.
2. Cool peanut butter mixture. You can do this in a cold water bath (setting the mix in a bowl and then placing that bowl over a larger bowl containing ice cubes and water) or just let it cool on its on the counter. Then place it in the refrigerator so it's cool but still stirable.
3. Set up your ice cream maker so it's ready to go.
4. Take the yogurt out of the refrigerator and place in a large bowl. Stir in the peanut butter mixture.
5. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn as you would normally make ice cream. Serve when frozen and creamy or place in the freezer for 1-2 hours.
Banana Frozen Yogurt
The Banana Frozen Yogurt recipe uses vanilla yogurt mixed with bananas that have been pureed with a little juice. This was hands down my kids favorite froyo and was also the easiest to make as you don’t need to heat anything.
Makes: 4-6 servings
2 cups vanilla yogurt (whole milk, lowfat or nonfat)
1/2 cup mango, apricot, orange or any other full-bodied juice
2 large or 3 medium bananas cut up
1. Chop up bananas and then puree with the juice.
2. Set up ice cream maker so it's ready to go.
3. Take the yogurt out of the refrigerator and place in a large bowl. Stir in the banana mixture.
4. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn as you would normally make ice cream. Serve when frozen and creamy or place in the freezer for 1-2 hours.