Friday, March 7, 2008

Maple Berry Frozen Yogurt

Lately I've been really, really tired- hence my one and only February post. Pathetic, I know. I do love my day job, but during the busy months, it's absolutely exhausting. Between a big conference and related week-long work trip to New York City, fighting off the colds and flus that travelled mercilessly around my office and every other workplace in Boston, multiple snowstorms and seemingly endless show shoveling, and turning 27 (a crazy fun day that also required full energy for hours of walking, museum and cooking supply shop visits, and of course, eating), February was a tough month.

I know things are bad when I don't even have the energy to cook- the one activity that usually relaxes and energizes me! The good news is that we're already halfway through the semester, which means just a few more months of hectic madness before my job settles back into a more normal, fluid routine and I have more energy for kitchen experiments at home!

When I'm stressed, my appetite goes out the window, so I knew things were getting back to normal when I felt the urge to try out the ice cream maker again- this time, to make something other than sorbet. We didn't have nearly enough whole milk or cream in the house (why do these urges to experiment come right after we've gone to the grocery store?!) for ice cream or gelato, but we did have quite a bit of one of my favourite foods: yogurt. I have a lifelong love affair going with dairy products, and yogurt is at the very top of that list. So of course, frozen yogurt it was!

The inspiration for this frozen yogurt comes from a lovely, simple dessert that L's mom serves often during the summer: plain yogurt sweetened with a touch of maple syrup and topped with fresh berries. In both fresh and frozen versions, the clean tang of the yogurt is balanced by the bright, fresh flavours of the berries and the distinctive woodsy sweetness of the maple syrup. Salt sounds like a strange addition, but it really does bring out vibrant notes in sweets (see chocolates and caramels sprinkled with fleur de sel).

I used my favourite store-bought yogurt: Liberté 2%, and a frozen mixture of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. A gorgeous plummy purple flecked with vivid specks of juicy berries, easy-peasy recipe and healthier than ice cream- how can you go wrong?

Maple Berry Frozen Yogurt
makes approximately 5 cups

27 ounces/3 1/3 cups plain yogurt, thoroughly chilled
3/4 cups Grade A maple syrup, thoroughly chilled
10 ounces mixed berries, chilled if fresh or slightly thawed if frozen
pinch of salt

2+ quart capacity bowl, chilled in the refrigerator

Coarsely mash by hand the cold berries and any juice they give off, or roughly purée with just a few pulses in a food processor.

Quickly mix cold yogurt, maple syrup, berries and salt together in a cold bowl. Freeze according to your ice cream maker instructions (this batch took 30 minutes in my Cuisinart 2 quart ice cream maker).

Pack into containers and store in the freezer- the yogurt will harden considerably in the next 24 hours.

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