Easy homemade cherry frozen yogurt, made with thick Greek yogurt, fresh sweet cherries, and swirls of flavorful Summer berry jam.
Madness goes something like this: It’s after seven. The thermometer in the kitchen window still hovers over a hundred degrees. I’ve been peeking through the window every few minutes, checking the sky. The sun finally begins its slow set, suddenly softer and partially obscured by the massive, billowing clouds that have triumphantly filled the sky every afternoon for as many days this month as I can remember.
I pull two pints of homemade cherry frozen yogurt from the very back of the freezer and quickly fill a waiting cone with two big scoops. I hand it to the Honey, grab my camera, and the kitchen door bangs shut behind us.
Across the patio and the frozen yogurt is already melting. We reach a small patch of decently green grass and I muster a few quick shots in the seventeen or so seconds before the whole delicious mess completely implodes, sinking into the cone and running down the edges onto the Honey’s hand. The pup lays patiently in the grass at his feet, just outside the edge of the frame, waiting for drips. This is the fourth cone I’ve shot, and he’s a quick learner.
Photographing frozen yogurt outside, in June. In the South. This is my madness.
But it is a delicious kind of crazy. And I can’t help but think that on these long, hot days when it is just about impossible to be outside (let alone shoot), frozen yogurt/ice cream/sorbet/popsicles… anything frozen and icy and prone to melting, is just about the only appropriate thing in the world to be consuming.
Or at least that’s where I find myself lately, in search of chilly antidotes to the stifling (not-quite-summer) summer heat of central North Carolina.
Through much trial and error, I’ve come across a few key elements to making creamy, indulgent (fruit-based) frozen yogurt that doesn’t make you wish you had made real ice cream instead. I find many frozen yogurt recipes to be bland and mediocre, but it doesn’t need to be a consolation prize! Great, homemade frozen yogurt can (and should be) bold, and creamy and flavorful, with a tangy finish.
Use a high-quality, whole-milk Greek yogurt. The higher fat content of whole milk, in addition to the higher protein found in Greek yogurt, provide added creaminess and a thicker, smoother bodied frozen yogurt. Even more important, straining the yogurt for a few hours prior to churning will make a world of difference. This reduces the water content, thereby reducing the potential for ice crystal formation upon freezing, and creating a smoother, creamier ice-cream-like texture.
Seasonal summer fruit and berries have wonderful flavor… and also a high water content. This translates to an icy texture when frozen. Instead of mixing fresh fruit or berries directly into the yogurt base, I find it’s best to quickly roast or cook the fruit first. These methods (I’ve used the latter in the recipe below), concentrate the natural flavor of the fruit while evaporating some of the water.
I’m in the habit of adding arrowroot starch to all of my homemade ice creams and frozen yogurts, but it is especially important to ensuring delicious results with fruit-based recipes, because the starch binds with any leftover water molecules. Just a few teaspoons of this natural, plant-based starch, and super hard, impossible to scoop, icy nightmares are a thing of the past.