Froyo trio

Clockwise from top left: cherry, strawberry and coffee fro-yo. 

A recipe is a living document, a wise cookbook author friend told me many years ago. It represents a moment in time in the life of the author and the story that inspired it. Think of the recipes that someone older passed down to a younger version of yourself, possibly scribbled on loose-leaf paper or a 3-by-5 index card. Maybe there are handwritten notes in the margins; maybe they belong to you.

The same principle applies to people who cook for a living. I regularly cook from my books (I have written three), the oldest of which turns 10 this year. Many of the recipes I cook as originally intended, and some I have thrown back into the hopper for revision. They’re not “bad” recipes per se, but instead reflect the intention and mission at the time they were written.

Take my recipe for cherry frozen yogurt, for example. I developed it about five years ago for my 2017 book, “PNW Veg.” I remember wanting something very fruit-forward, and if at all possible, using as little sugar as possible. That was my focus. Mission accomplished.

But as pretty-in-mauve and cherry-licious as it was/is, my cherry fro-yo, if I’m being honest, was hard. As in hard to scoop, even after some thaw time on the counter. It did not have a creamy mouthfeel. As I sketched out this very story on frozen desserts, I knew in good faith that if I was going to share my fro-yo recipe in 2020, I had some updating to do.

Despite its name and voluptuous mouthfeel, full-fat plain yogurt has a high-water content and lacks the fat needed to get a creamy result. My research told me three things: I needed a stabilizer in the form of cream cheese, eggs or heavy cream; I needed more sugar (the original recipe called for 1/3 cup honey) and I was using too much yogurt. With my recipe-testing cap on, I decided to add 1/2 cup heavy cream, swap out the honey for 1/2 cup sugar, and depending on the flavor, use no more than 1 1/2 cups of yogurt.

The results are decidedly creamy, yet not ice-creamy, if that makes sense. You still get the tang of the yogurt but now it responds to an ice cream scoop. Using the new formula, I tested a total of three variations: the original cherry, strawberry and coffee.

The 2020 version is a wrap — for now.

Froyo cherry

Fro-yo made from local sweet cherries.

CHERRY FRO-YO

Makes a scant 1 quart.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound unpitted sweet cherries (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups full-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vodka (optional)
  • Optional mix-in: 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Directions:

Pit the cherries and place them in a small bowl. Stir in the almond extract and the sugar and let sit for about 15 minutes.

Place the yogurt and the heavy cream in the bowl of a food processor or a heavy-duty stand blender. Add the vanilla and the cherries with residual juices. Process the mixture until well blended. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Pour the chilled mixture and the vodka into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The result will be creamy with a mouthfeel similar to soft-serve ice cream. Serve immediately, or for a firmer consistency, freeze for at least 1 hour.

To add chocolate to the fro-yo, melt 2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. When the fro-yo has reached the desired texture but is still in the ice cream maker, very slowly drizzle in the chocolate while it’s still warm. If it begins to get clumpy, turn the machine off and stir by hand.

Froyo strawberry

Fro-yo made with strawberries.

STRAWBERRY FRO-YO

Makes a scant 1 quart.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved (from about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup full-fat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vodka (optional)

Directions:

Place the strawberries in a medium bowl. Stir in the sugar and let sit for about 15 minutes. (Feel free to add a few whole fresh mint or basil leaves while the fruit macerates.)

Place the yogurt and the heavy cream in the bowl of a food processor or a heavy-duty stand blender. Add the vanilla and the strawberries with residual juices. Process the mixture until well blended. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Pour the chilled mixture and the vodka (if using) into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The result will be creamy with a mouthfeel similar to soft-serve ice cream. Serve immediately, or for a firmer consistency, freeze for at least 1 hour.

Froyo coffee

Caffeinated fro-yo made from cold brew concentrate.

COFFEE FRO-YO

Makes a scant 1 quart.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brewed espresso, cooled or cold brew concentrate
  • 1 cup full-fat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vodka (optional)
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons cocoa nibs or shaved chocolate

Directions:

Place the coffee, yogurt, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor or a heavy-duty stand blender. Process the mixture until well blended. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Pour the chilled mixture and the vodka (if using) into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The result will be creamy with a mouthfeel similar to soft-serve ice cream. If using the cocoa nibs or shaved chocolate, add at the last minute and churn just until mixed. Serve immediately, or for a firmer consistency, freeze for at least 1 hour.