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The BEST Plain Frozen Yogurt

28 Jun

“I opened-up a yogurt, underneath the lid it said, ‘Please try again’ because they were having a contest that I was unaware of. I thought maybe I opened the yogurt wrong. …Or maybe Yoplait was trying to inspire me… ‘Come on Mitchell, don’t give up!’ An inspirational message from your friends at Yoplait, fruit on the bottom, hope on top.” ~ Mitch Hedberg

I recently got a comment on 365scoops from a lovely woman (who shall remain nameless) that read:

Although my sister, who shall remain anonymous, thinks plain yogurt tastes like “butt-crack”, I hereby request it with berries. Can you make this happen?
-Mama Z.

Well Mama Z – your wish is my command!

The BEST plain yogurt. Ever.

It all began one summer day in 2008. I had just finished a fun half-hour of free kayaking on 72nd street. Much to my chagrin, I got soaked while paddling in the Hudson River and to be frank, I didn’t smell all that hot. Actually, I stank. Hudson River water smells really bad. Being that it was 95 degrees out, my friends and I needed frozen yogurt to cool us off a bit. And we needed it stat.

All the new, hip frozen yogurt places had not really started popping up on the Upper West Side so we decided to try the famous Bloomingdales Frozen Yogurt to see what all the hype was about.

Walking into Bloomingdales I was hoping for something sweet, when one of my friends informed me, “you know this is tart yogurt, right?”. Um, what? I’m here for sweet, I thought to myself, pondering why I had schlepped all the way across town in my Hudson-River-splashed clothing. This was my first entree into plain frozen yogurt, and I have to say, I was petrified. In case it hasn’t been made clear through this blog I want my desserts sweet. Fruit doesn’t count, and neither did plain frozen yogurt.

Or so I thought.

After ordering a small (which was actually quite huge) and eating the whole thing (plus 1/2 of my friend’s) I promptly proclaimed, “this stuff’s addictive!” and the rest is history!

For the past three summers I’ve been feeding my habit by going out to ice cream quite frequently, if not daily. This started becoming an expensive habit and so I took matters into my own hands, and made tart frozen yogurt instead. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as Mama Z did!

The BEST Plain Yogurt. Ever.

Adapted from 101Cookbooks (who adapted it from David Lebovitz)

Ingredients

2 cups 2% Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani)

1 cup 0% Greek Yogurt

3/4 cup sugar

The ingredients...pretty basic stuff!

Method

Vigorously whisk the yogurt and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved in the yogurt. Cool completely in the refrigerator.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most of the time it takes 20 minutes to make an ice cream, but for some reason this only took 15 minutes and it was done. I recommend eating this as soon as it comes out of the ice cream maker (if you even make it that far) because once you freeze it, it gets a bit hard.

Serve drizzled with the Triple Berry Sauce or smothered with fresh berries. Yum.

The Verdict: Mama Z said it was the best damn frozen yogurt she’s ever hard. If that’s not a glowing report, I don’t know what is… Oh, it was so good that I ate the rest for breakfast with raspberries the next day. Is that embarrassing?

Apologies for not having a photo, you’ll just have to try making it yourself…

Soy Latte Ice Cream

9 May

Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks? ~ Steven Wright

At 365 scoops we are always up for a challenge! Last week I made birthday cake ice cream, and challenged myself to use skim milk in lieu of cream and half-and-half and I’m still here to talk about it, so obviously it worked fine!

Well, today there are not one, but TWO challenges.

#1: I am challenging you, the readers, to go on a scavenger hunt (hint: search Whole Foods) and find a Kopali Organics product, take a picture with it, and the amazing Kopali Organics folks will send you some of their outstanding products FREE! (more on this later!)

#2: I am challenging myself, the writer, to make a vegan/soy ice cream to serve as the perfect partner to Kopali Organic’s Chocolate Covered Cacao nibs.

The magic behind this delicious soy latte ice cream

Yeah, I am sweating just thinking about it too!

In making this recipe I came to learn that there are few reputable and field tested vegan ice cream blogs and recipes. But thankfully in my search I came across two vegan ice cream cookbooks: The Vegan Scoop and the other, wait for it…wait for it…Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love.

Ahem, who in G-d’s green earth named that second book? That is the single worst title I have ever heard. Sorry to be so scathing here, but honestly, it sounds like it should be in an “adult” bookstore, not in someone’s kitchen. Ohy.

I digress…

I’m not complaining here, but this recipe gave me more agita than any other I’ve made so far. Perhaps it was because I am entering new territory with vegan treats, maybe it was because I went to 10 stores before finding arrow root, or perhaps because I have a general aversion to “fake” ice cream. You see, I have such vivid memories of eating “Tofutti Cuties” after dinner as a kid, and feeling like they tasted so incredibly fake and disgusting that I would rather go without dessert. I know that’s hard to believe coming from me, but it’s true. Now as an adult, I am embracing this new chapter in the ice cream making world, grabbing the vegan bull by it’s horns, and diving right in!

One more thing before the recipe. I’m sorry, but I have to kvetch here about arrow root. Let me regale you with how unbelievably difficult it was to find this damn ingredient. I even involved The Husband in this process, and you know that means I was desperate!

The infamous arrow root.... was it even worth it??

Without boring you completely, I first went to Williams Sonoma to find arrow root starch, certain that they would have it. Naturally, they didn’t and suggested I go to Whole Foods (luckily it was just downstairs!). I went to Whole Foods and they were out (and suggested instead that I go to Willams Sonoma. Argh.). Then I went to Trader Joe’s – nope. At this point, I called in the troops (a.k.a. The Husband) and asked him to do me a solid and hunt down this damn product. In a moment of desperation I considered using corn starch (which is allegedly quite similar) but much to my chagrin all sources said corn starch is a fine substitute for arrow root starch except for in ice cream and other frozen concoctions because cornstarch doesn’t stand up to freezing. Grr. So from there I called not two, but six more stores. Gristedes (aka highway robbery supermarket) had one small jar left so I sent The Husband there at once. He brought it home and we found that it was expired three years ago! Seriously? I was going nuts at this point. Obviously we did not use it, and I called one more store, to find that yes, they did have arrow root starch, and no it was not expired, and yes they would hold it so that The Husband could schlep 10 blocks to go get it. And he did. And I owe him big time!

Sigh. I’m out of breath just from typing that story!

After all the schlepping around it was totally worth it for the finished product. You see, what made this recipe truly perfect (and I think that you’ll be missing out if you don’t add them) are theseKopali Organic Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs.  Simply put, they are irresistible and your soy latte will be too with this topping!

Oh, and I should mention that not only does this ice cream taste good, but it’s will also feel good too! When you enjoy Kopali’s organic fruit and fair-trade chocolates you can feel great knowing it’s good for you, good for farmers, and good for the earth! By eating Kopali’s products you are supporting thousands of sustainable farmers and their communities in nearly a dozen countries across the globe.

Lastly – I should note that this recipe is completely vegan, gluten-free, organic and kosher. Can’t get better than that…

Soy Latte Ice Cream with Kopali Organics Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs

Adapted quite a bit from a vegan ice cream blog

Ingredients

2 cups of soy creamer

1 1/4 cups soy milk

3/4 cup strong brewed coffee (I used Starbucks Via)

2 tablespoons arrow root starch (more on this later!!)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 packet of additional Starbucks Via (stirred in slowly according to taste)

1/4 tsp ground coffee

Arrow root starch and soy milk mixture

Method

Mix 1/4 cup of soy milk with the 2 tablespoons of arrow root starch. Reserve until later.

Whisk the soy creamer, remaining 1 cup of soy milk, coffee and sugar on the stove top until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is almost boiled.

Remove from heat and add the arrow root paste, vanilla and 1/4 tsp of ground coffee.

When you taste the mixture (which you will inevitably do) you will notice that is more on the milky side, and less on the coffee side. At this point, open another packet of Starbucks Via and begin adding in the slightest amounts and whisking. I added approximately 1/2 of another packet, but honestly could have added a bit more. Add bit by bit, whisk and repeat until you get the desired flavor. *Remember, this is a soy latte ice cream, not coffee ice cream, so it should be more milky than coffee-y.*

The coffee mixture swirling...

Once you reach the desired taste, cool in an airtight container in the refrigerator, at least two hours. In an effort to cut corners I cooled the mixture in a bowl, and what do you know? The damn mixture spilled in my refrigerator! Probably only a tablespoon-full spilled, but it was really sticky and made a huge mess. Word to the wise: don’t cut corners! Put the mixture in a sealed container!

Once the mixture is completely chilled, remove from the refrigerator and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For this recipe I churned it for approximately 28 minutes, which is slightly longer than other recipes, but I think that’s because soy milk is by nature a little waterier than regular milk.

The ice cream is still rather creamy, so like usual, freeze for a bit before serving. But, because this is made with soy (which is virtually a water base) , it was slightly more icy the next day, so I would suggest serving this one either right out of the ice cream maker or only once after freezing for an hour or so. It tastes better that way.

The Kopali Organics chocolate covered cacao nibs!

When serving, sprinkle lots of the chocolate covered cacao nibs on top OR if you want, add them about three minutes before the ice cream is done churning and they will mix very well into the ice cream. What a delicious combination! Trust me on this!

The Verdict:

The Husband: “I thought you were making vegan ice cream.”

Me:  This was quite good – everyone should try it! I take back everything I ever said about “fake” ice cream. And with the chocolate covered cacao nibs this was a real winner! Yum Yum Yum.

Please don’t get angry but…we devoured this ice cream before I was able to take a picture of the finished product. I know, I’m sorry. Hopefully the scavenger hunt and FREE Kopali products will enable you to forgive me!

**Remember, the first person to send me a photo of him/herself with a bag of Kopali products wins FREE chocolate and fruit treats! Email the photo to 365scoops@gmail.com and you’ll be featured on facebook, twitter and more! Good luck!**

Dulce de Leche Gelato

27 Apr

Not to like ice cream is to show oneself uninterested in foods.

~ Joseph Epstein

All the swirly scoops of Dulce de Leche Gelato

Honestly, there are no words.

In a recent post about my love affair with dulce de leche I described a rather embarrassing moment in my lifetime, and an all-time low in the world of gluttony.

For some odd reason, I find myself there again.

To set the record straight for any of you who may be confused, I love chocolate and caramel. Really – it’s the perfect marriage between creamy, chewy, milky and just thinking about it I am salivating. Writing this post is really hard because I just want to be eating chocolate caramel right now. Ugh.

Back to the point. When The Husband and I were recently in Argentina we made it a point to eat at all the famous ice cream places. There were Freddo and Persico (two of the big chains) and a much lesser known but wildly superior Chungo. We discovered this little known gem on our second to last night in Buenos Aires (how we waited that long to try that place is something I will never understand) and it was on that very momentous night that I had the most perfect dulce de leche gelato EVER. So much so that we went back the next day to purchase a 1/2 kilo “to go” so that we could eat it in the taxi on the way to the airport (a poorly thought out idea, considering I would be sitting on an airplane for 11 hours with nothing but gobs of gelato in my belly!).

When I started this blog I decided that dulce de leche ice cream or gelato would have to be one of my first few posts.

The rationale: I am going through withdrawal.

I also promised myself  not repeat recipes throughout the course of this blog because there are so many incredible ice cream combinations to be had, but I will most certainly be making a variety of dulce de leche products.

The rationale: I cannot live without it.

I realize that in re-reading this blog post I sound a little nutty, but it’s the truth. I love dulce de leche.

So, as you saw in my post last week, I made the dulce de leche, the base for this recipe. You will see how it is incorporated below.

Delicious.

Dulce de Leche Gelato

From Ciao Bella Cookbook

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

4 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup dulce de leche (store-bought or you can make your own very easily here)

Method

In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk and the cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring or whisking occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges. If you are using a thermometer the mixture should reach a temperature of 170 degrees F.

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. A word to the wise about this – you really need to whisk a lot, not only so that the sugar dissolves, but also because you really want to whip the yolks to make them slightly frothy and creamy.

Temper the egg yolks by very slowly pouring the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. You need to pour the milk mixture little by little so that it does not heat the egg yolks too quickly and create scrambled eggs. NO ONE wants scrambled eggs gelato!

Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon or spatula (and you can run your finger across the spoon and it leaves a clean path where your finger was). If using a thermometer the custard should reach a temperature of 185 degrees F. Whatever you do, do not bring this to a boil.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring every 5 minutes or so. It’s important to strain the mixture because inevitably a few clumps of egg will be at the bottom, and you don’t want clumpy, egg gelato!

To cool the custard quickly, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water and placing the bowl with the custard in it; stir the custard until cooled. Once it’s completely cooled, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least four hours or overnight (I recommend overnight!).

Churning...

Here comes the dulce part!

Once the mixture is totally cooled, place half of the mixture in a blender and add 1/2 cup of the dulce de leche. Blend until smooth, then whisk into the remaining base.

Pour the mixture into the container of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (for me it was approximately 25 minutes).

In a small saucepan over low heat, gently warm the remaining 1/2 cup dulce de leche. Just after churning the custard, transfer a few scoops of the gelato into the container you’re freezing it in, and drizzle a few tablespoons of the dulce de leche over it.

Dulce de leche drizzled in the ice cream container

Repeat layering with the remaining gelato and dulce de leche, then freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. (The gelato layering and drizzling is not an exact science, you cannot mess this up, so don’t worry. The goal is to make sure you swirl dulce de leche into the gelato. Each bite will be slightly different, and that’s OK!)

When I made this amazing treat, the gelato was so extremely soft  and creamy that it needed to freeze over night.

The Verdict: YUMMERS!

I should note here that what made this treat truly extra special was the drizzle of chocolate ganache on top.

Like I said, something about caramel and chocolate really is to die for, and I could not resist adding that ganache to this ice cream. It was heavenly together.

I strongly recommend that you do the same!

Succulent Strawberry Sorbet

24 Apr

Strawberry fields forever. ~ The Beatles

The Strawberries

Literally.

I purchased and hulled so many strawberries for this sorbet that I felt like I personally depleted an entire strawberry field.

Here’s the story. I try very much to only buy organic fruits and vegetables, especially if they are on the “dirty dozen” list. Living in NYC we have access to lots of moderately priced (I know, shocking) organic options. Trader Joe’s carries many items as does Whole Foods, and of course the plethora of farmers markets in NYC makes it even easier to find great produce. When making this sorbet I went on a hunt for good priced organic berries and after 3 places I found myself, yet again, at Trader Joe’s. They really are a savior here in NYC.

Then came measuring the ingredients.

Honestly, it was embarrassing.

My recipe called for 2 quarts of strawberries, yet the only box of berries available at Trader Joe’s was 2 pounds. “How do you measure quarts in dry goods and how does that relate to pounds?”, you ask. Well, I was wondering the same damn thing myself. I whipped out the iPhone and kept googling every possible combination of “quart + strawberry+ measurement” and found myself on this totally unreliable message board that, funny enough, seemed to have a relatively legitimate post. Two quarts of strawberries, it said, was the equivalent of 8 cups of berries. In other words, one pound of berries was approximately 4ish cups. I wasn’t entirely sold (and neither was my very nice salesman at Trader Joe’s) so he took the box of berries in the back and systematically measured the box for me. He concluded that one pound of berries was indeed approximately four cups. Lifesaver! So, I bought 2 quarts of strawberries and went on my merry way.

The Simple Syrup

Next came making the simple syrup.

Simple syrup gets its name because, well, it’s extremely simple. Though the classic simple syrup recipe is 1 part water to 1 part sugar, this sorbet recipe was slightly altered. In fact, it had less sugar (which is a good thing because these berries were SO sweet on their own they barely needed sugar!).

I used organic raw sugar (which has a brown hue) to make the simple syrup. Two cups water, 1.5 cups of sugar. When it was done boiling and mixing it looked like a cup of rusty water. Ew. I thought maybe I burnt it, and was rather annoyed because I didn’t want to waste it and make it again. Then it dawned on me that it was brown because of the raw sugar! I tasted it for good measure, and sure enough, it was exactly right! Phew.

If you thought the above seemed complicated, just wait until I regale you with the trials and tribulations of hulling strawberries. You should know that I have never hulled a strawberry before. I know, it’s a cooking faux pas. But honestly, I can’t really taste the difference between hulled strawberries and those with their tops cut off. Uh oh, am I starting to sound like The Husband with my unrefined palette? Eek.

Anyhow, for those of you who don’t know how to hull strawberries here’s a great video. I watched it, practiced a few times, and voilà, I was hulling strawberries ad nauseum. But, “to hull” with this – it’s time for the actual recipe!

The pile of hulled strawberries

Succulent Strawberry Sorbet

Straight from Ciao Bella

Ingredients

2 quarts strawberries, hulled

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tbs lemon juice

Methods

Hull the heck out of those strawberries!

Make the simple syrup by heating the water and sugar, whisking or mixing vigorously so the sugar dissolves but the water does not boil. The mixture is ready when small bubbles appear around the edges of the liquid. Let it cool completely at least 4 hours or if possible, refrigerate overnight.

Mix half the strawberries with half the simple syrup and 1/2 tbs of lemon juice in a blender until smooth.  Pour it into an ice cream maker and repeat with the second batch of strawberries, simple syrup and lemon juice.

Turn on the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For me, this took 25-30 minutes, slightly longer than usual, and that’s because I think the ice cream maker was over crowded.

Blending...

It’s worth noting here that my ice cream maker has a 1.5 quart bowl and this was way too much liquid for the bowl. Actually, this makes 2 batches of the sorbet, in other words nearly 3 quarts. So, either cut the recipe in half to make only one batch OR refrigerate one batch overnight and repeat the process the next day.

I actually did something rather outlandish (and delish!), and I used the other half of the mixture to make drinks for friends. We mixed the fresh strawberry puree with some vodka and a splash of orange juice, served them in martini glasses and they were a HUGE hit. I highly recommend this option because everybody wins with sorbet and cocktails! What’s not to love?

The sorbet is churning...

The sorbet is really creamy and “melty” when it comes out of the machine so like usual you should freeze it for a few hours before serving.

When I served this sorbet I created a trifle-like presentation by layering last week’s lemon sorbet with the strawberry sorbet. It was a perfect marriage of tart and sweet. If you recall, I felt that this lemon sorbet was way too tart, but the strawberry sorbet really cut that tartness and it was a really refreshing end to our, drum-roll please… pizza dinner!

Remember, this is an excellent summer recipe. It’s sure to quench your thirst (especially when mixed with vodka!) and is a real crowd pleaser (thus said our crowd of friends!)

Oh, and one more thing: this sorbet was so good, I didn’t manage to get a photo of the finished product. You’ll just have to imagine. Or better yet, make your own and try it!

Simple Lemon Sorbet

8 Apr

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade (or lemon sorbet!). ~ Unknown

Lemon Sorbet!

Life has by no means handed me lemons, but I felt this quote was appropriate for the upcoming recipe.

I am headed to Miami this weekend to soak up the sun for one of my closest friend’s bachelorette weekend. I don’t have time to pack, get organized and make a complicated ice cream. Besides, those of us with tummy issues are having trouble enduring the past 3 days of all dairy. Help is on the way in the form of simple lemon sorbet. Truth be told, I also happen to have all the ingredients for lemon sorbet in the apartment, so why not save a few buckaroos and use what I have to make a yummy frozen treat.

Living in a small NYC apartment its slightly hard to stock a kitchen with every last cooking utensil. I have accumulated quite a collection over the past few years, but still don’t have a microplane. So when zesting lemons I use, drumroll please, a cheese grater. (Thank you to my sweet coworker for the brilliant suggestion!) Seems sort of tacky, but wow, it does the trick!

The magical lemon squeezer in action.

There is one kitchen utensil that I do have and cannot live without. I recently purchased this squeezer in Israel and it was a total impulse buy (but at $2 it didn’t really matter). At first I thought it was a real gimmick and piece of junk. Then I tried it, and it was truly a lemon juicer miracle machine. Measuring a whopping 2 inches, it’s about the weight of a few paper clips and looks a little bit like a screw. The magic is that it screws into the lemon and enables you to squeeze juice out of the spout without having seeds end up into your lemon juice. It’s extremely easy to use. Now here is where I would love to insert a link to this treasure, but I have spent the past 20 minutes searching google and have yielded nothing. Next time you’re in the market in Tel Aviv, pick one up for yourself.

On to the recipe…To be perfectly honest, I had an idea of how to make lemon sorbet – I figured I could make lemonade and then put it through the ice cream maker. Duh. But I wanted to make sure someone else (hopefully a trained chef) had tested a recipe first before I put it out to you all. I googled lemon sorbet and literally 1,000 different recipes came up, but I decided to go with Emeril’s Lemon Sorbet.

After making (and tasting) this recipe, it seemed more like an intermezzo or palette cleanser to me.  In other words, it was so tart the way I made it that it would be better eaten in a small portion to cleanse the palette between, say, a salad course and a fish course. Nonetheless, if you follow the recipe below (and not the exact recipe I used) I think you’ll enjoy it.

It’s safe to say that if you like lemons, lemon zest and tartness, you will like this. If not, add a little extra sugar, add a few raspberries on top, and you’ll love it.

Simple (Tart) Lemon Sorbet

Edited slightly from Emerli Lagasse’s original recipe

Ingredients

1 cup water

1 cup of sugar (I used 3/4 of a cup for a MUCH more tangy and tart recipe – frankly though, it was too sour)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (for me, that was 7-8 lemons; though the recipe said 3-4!)

2 teaspoons of lemon zest

Method

Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, remove from the heat, and cool completely in the refrigerator.

Combine the syrup with the lemon juice and zest and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine.

Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions (which in my case was 22 minutes in the ice cream maker). The sorbet was very soft when complete. After the sorbet is made, transfer to an airtight container, cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve.

**Note this recipe is perfect for vegans, Passover, and those following a gluten free diet. **

Simple Lemon Sorbet (AKA Intermezzo)

Enjoy!