Sunday, June 27, 2010

Coconut Pink Cherry Frozen Yogurt

Have you ever tried making homemade ice cream? How about homemade frozen yogurt? Well, if you are anything like me, you have. Several times. And, if you are anything like me you have failed. Several times. If you haven't please spare me your success stories as I will be completely jealous seeing as how I have tried to make good, basic vanilla ice cream more than 5 times and each was more awful than the next (save for once in the girl scouts when I was about 13 and we made it old school in a coffee tin. I remember that being the BEST ice cream EVER! Very similar to Breyers, with no eggs. However, I was 13 and maybe I didn't know what good ice cream was back then, so who knows if I have ever conquered this.)

I was frustrated. Either the ice cream tasted like straight frozen cream, or the consistency was off, or it was yellow and thick from too many eggs. I threw away every batch. I tried it with more milk rather than cream but it just tasted like frozen milk. I just wanted some Breyers vanilla ice cream and I didn't think I was asking too much! I had some luck the last couple Summers with sorbet and so I was pleased with that, at least. Then, this Winter I made some caramel ice cream that was good, not perfect, but good and that appeased me for a while.

I just didn't understand why it was so hard. Why do ice cream/sorbet/frozen yogurt recipes vary so much? Why do some use all cream/all fruit while others water the whole thing down with water and milk? Eggs? No eggs? Further more, which way was better? And why when I have tried all the ways did nothing taste right???

Then, the Smitten Kitchen came across my radar. She blogged about this Coconut Pink Cherry Frozen Yogurt and she had me at the name alone. I mean how cute? Pink cherry. Adorable. After reading her post I knew I had to make it. She talked about all the same frustrations I had about frozen dessert and she too, searched for an answer. It came by way of David Lebovitz who is the author of "The Perfect Scoop" an ice cream cookbook. YES! She changed it up a bit, changing his plain frozen yogurt recipe to the cherry, coconut version here.

So I made it. And can I tell you? It tasted like actual frozen yogurt! Dang good frozen yogurt at that! It was like the kind you buy at the frozen yogurt houses! Do you get how excited I am about this??? You have to make this. It's the perfect Summer dessert and it's too easy. That was the best part! There was no cooking and cooling and long stints in the refrigerator before actually freezing it. It was just mixed up, chilled briefly and frozen. It was done and in my ice cream maker in 20 minutes from start to finish. Oh, how I love, love, love this!

There is one tiny thing though. This doesn't taste like coconut. It has coconut milk in it which lends a fabulous flavor as only it could give, but it's subtle. Necessary, but subtle. I love it, but I just wanted to make sure all you coconut enthusiasts (Danielle) knew this going in. It tastes like wonderful, fresh cherry frozen yogurt which is nothing to sneer at. If you added some bittersweet chocolate chips it would taste a lot like a frozen yogurt version of Ben and Jerry's flavor, Cherry Garcia. Ah, success. Maybe not at vanilla ice cream, but this is a fabulous start!

Coconut Pink Cherry Frozen Yogurt
adapted from Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen via "The Perfect Scoop"

Makes about 1 quart

3 cups Greek-style yogurt or strained yogurt*
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup cherries, pits removed and roughly chopped
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Place the yogurt, sugar, coconut milk and almond extract in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Place the yogurt mixture in the refrigerator to keep it cold while you pit the cherries.

I pitted my cherries by slicing the flesh off on all their sides like you would a mango, to avoid the pit, then roughly chop.

Take your yogurt bowl out of the refrigerator and stir in the cherries and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.

*To make 1 cup of strained yogurt, line a mesh strainer with a few layers of cheese cloth, place it on a large bowl (to catch the liquid that will come out) then scrape 16 ounces, or 2 cups of plain whole-milk yogurt into the cheesecloth. Gather the ends and fold them over the yogurt, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Discard the liquid left in the bottom of the bowl and use the thickened yogurt.

I advise to not leave the almond extract out. It would still taste like frozen yogurt without it but the almond extract really helps to bump up the cherry flavor and carry it throughout since it is subtle.

The recipe does not specify what kind of yogurt you should use. I'm guessing whole milk Greek yogurt, but my store didn't have any, so I used half low-fat and half non-fat and mine turned out great but use which ever you would like.