Greek-style yogurt is the ideal base for tangy, homemade frozen yogurt, and Nicole Weston’s Meringue Method guarantees creamy results.
As a kid on hot days in Southern California, I always looked forward to enjoying a cool treat after a long day at school. Sometimes I had an ice-cold soda or a smoothie, but the treat I loved most was frozen yogurt.
Plain yogurt has a tart, tangy flavor that comes from the natural cultures that are used to turn ordinary milk into what we know as yogurt. Yogurt wasn’t very popular when frozen yogurt was first introduced, except among the very health conscious, but as better-tasting, thicker yogurts grew in popularity, frozen yogurt also started to change — and to taste like yogurt. That signature yogurt tang became a hallmark of high-quality frozen yogurts made with premium ingredients. This new style launched a yogurt revolution, and it is now more popular than ever before.
Frozen yogurt should be creamy and smooth, and — like ice cream — it should be something that you can store in your freezer and scoop when you want to eat some. It’s easy to make at home, and making your own gives you complete control of the ingredients and flavors that will go into your desserts.
It does present some challenges that ice cream does not.
Yogurt doesn’t freeze well on its own because a major component of yogurt is whey, the watery part of milk. Whey freezes solid, just like water. So when you freeze plain yogurt, it develops icy crystals and loses its texture — and the same thing can happen to homemade frozen yogurt. You end up with something that’s a far cry from the creamy, smooth texture that you want in a frozen dessert.
Commercially made frozen yogurts often have stabilizers added to enhance their texture, and commercial machines can infuse enough extra air into the base to keep the yogurt soft. Home ice cream makers aren’t as powerful as commercial machines, but there are a few things you can do to ensure that your yogurt tastes delicious and stays scoopable even after sitting in the freezer for a few days.
Minimize the amount of whey in your yogurt base by using thick, Greek-style yogurt.
Greek-style yogurt already has a lot of the whey strained out of it. This thicker yogurt will be less likely to form large ice crystals when frozen. You can use any brand of yogurt; choose one that you like. You can even use homemade yogurt.
Use full-fat yogurt and dairy.
Both nonfat and low-fat yogurt will turn out very tasty results, but full-fat yogurt will produce a creamier, richer-tasting product, which is why I recommend it. The small amount of fat will also help prevent the yogurt from freezing too hard.
Infuse extra air into your yogurt mixture before churning.
I call this the Meringue Method, because I use an easy-to make meringue to aerate the base and help ensure a deliciously smooth finished product every time.
The Meringue Method involves using a cooked meringue, also known as an Italian meringue, to incorporate extra air into the yogurt base before the churning phase. Meringue is a mixture of egg whites and sugar that is beaten until stiff and foamy. Most meringues are made with raw eggs and then incorporated into recipes that call for cooking the meringue before serving. The Italian meringue uses a different technique to produce meringue that is completely cooked and safe to eat without any additional cooking or baking; it is an ideal addition to frozen yogurt. The meringue is very easy to prepare and makes a big difference in the creaminess of the finished yogurt.
Key Lime Frozen Yogurt
Key lime pie is a dessert that translates very well to frozen yogurt because it already has a smooth, creamy filling. Adding sweetened condensed milk tempers the tanginess of the lime juice and will give your frozen yogurt that familiar flavor of the classic pie. If you can’t find Key limes, you can substitute regular limes for both the lime juice and the lime zest. You will get the best flavor using fresh lime juice rather than juice from concentrate.
Makes about 1½ quarts
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt, cold
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- ⅓ cup fresh Key lime juice (4–5 Key limes)
- 1 teaspoon grated Key lime zest
- Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, without stirring, over medium-high heat. When the sugar mixture comes to a full boil, continue to boil for 1 minute.
- While the sugar boils, beat the egg whites to soft peaks in a large clean bowl. When the sugar is ready, continue beating the eggs on low speed and very slowly stream in the hot sugar mixture. When all the sugar has been incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat until the meringue is glossy and has cooled almost down to room temperature, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Whisk together the yogurt, condensed milk, lime juice, and lime zest in a large bowl until smooth. Fold in the meringue.
- Pour the yogurt mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Transfer to a freezer-safe container and chill in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours to allow the yogurt to completely set.
Key Lime Pops
These pops almost couldn’t be any easier to make, and for citrus fans like me, they couldn’t be any easier to eat. The creamy, refreshing lime frozen yogurt is at its best when paired with a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs to evoke the crust of a traditional Key lime pie.
Makes 8 pops
- 2 cups Key Lime frozen yogurt, freshly churned or slightly softened
- ½ cup crushed graham crackers
- Fill eight ice pop molds almost halfway full with the frozen yogurt. Sprinkle ½ tablespoon of the crushed graham crackers into each mold. Fill the molds almost to the top with more frozen yogurt, then sprinkle an additional ½ tablespoon crushed crackers into each mold.
- Place sticks into the pops and freeze until solid, at least 2 to 3 hours.