Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Easy Frozen Yogurt (No Ice-Cream Maker Required!)
We all know I'm a baked goods girl, but when I get a craving for something smooth and cool, frozen yogurt is my usual go-to treat. I love all the little self-serve fro-yo places that seem to be cropping up in every town in America these days - but what I don't love is how much they charge for their chilled confections. Their by-the-ounce prices may look good, but by the time I get to the check-out with my tiny tub of yogurt, I invariably end up spending $5 or $6! Of course, I know you can buy a tub of the stuff for much less at your local grocery store, but I began to wonder whether you could make your own frozen yogurt more cheaply and easily at home - and, thus, an experiment was born.
Using nothing but plain yogurt and a bit of Jell-o powder (I was trying to replicate the soft-serve, sugar-free flavors and this seemed to work best!) I whipped up my own fro-yo that, in flavor at least, rivals the soft-serve at the shop down the street. The texture is a little trickier to capture, especially if you don't have an ice cream maker, but it is possible. The secret is to be diligent in your stirring (if you wait to long or miss a stirring, your yogurt may get icy) and to serve the finished product as soon as it's ready. With those tips in mind, here's my recipe for simple and fun summer dessert.
Easy Homemade Frozen Yogurt
1 package sugar-free gelatin (4 serving-size), any flavor
1/2 cup boiling water
32 oz. nonfat plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine the boiling water and Jell-o powder in a medium bowl. Stir well, making sure all the gelatin powder dissolves (it has a tendency to clump at the base of the bowl). Allow to cool slightly before stirring in yogurt and extract. Stir until there are no lumps and the gelatin mixture is evenly distributed.
If you have an ice-cream maker, this is the point at which you transfer the mixture and follow your machine's directions. If you're trying it by hand, like me, pour mixture into a freezer-safe bowl and place in the freezer. After 20 minutes, remover bowl from freezer and stir mixture, taking care to scrape the sides of the bowl. Stir until smooth and return bowl to the freezer.
Repeat this stirring process every 25-35 minutes until your frozen yogurt begins to thicken and set. This may take several hours. Be sure not to miss any stirrings as this will cause ice crystals to form in your yogurt. Also, mixing more frequently will result in lighter, creamier yogurt. Serve immediately when yogurt reaches the desired consistency.
A few notes: This recipe is time consuming, but it's also lots of fun to watch your fro-yo take shape. If, by unfortunate circumstance, you happen to find ice-crystals forming in your yogurt, you can sometimes arrest the process by stirring vigorously. If this doesn't work, place your yogurt in the fridge for a few hours to allow it to soften and then try the process again.
You should try to serve the fro-yo as soon as it's ready, but if you absolutely must wait either increase your stirring intervals (every 15 mins until serving) or transfer your finished product to the fridge (for no more than an hour or so, or it will start melting!).
The Jell-o powder produces a tangy, slightly sweet fro-yo that tastes a lot like store-bought soft serve. If you want an even more authentic experience, top with fresh fruit or other tasty condiments - mochi, Oreos, cookie dough, crushed cookies. The sky's the limit!
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