The Quest for Non-Icy Frozen Yogurt – Part 1

My girlfriend, Isabel, and I are big fans of frozen yogurt, in part because of the great experience of serving yourself and all the fun toppings, and in part because of the delicious tangy stuff itself. Because of the quarantine (and because there’s only one frozen yogurt place in Boston), we’ve been trying to make our own frozen yogurt–with mixed, but mostly positive results.

The first attempt: Green Tea

Ingredients:

  • Food grade matcha powder (purchased)
  • Full fat greek yogurt
  • Honey

For our first attempt, we mixed greek yogurt, honey, and matcha powder, placing them in a food processor and… processing. We found the mix of the green tea and the honey created a bit of an aftertaste, and both were overpowered by the sourness of the greek yogurt. The big problem was when we took it out of the freezer two hours later it was a block of ice. After a brief excursion in the microwave, the texture remained closer to Go-Gurt than the frozen yogurt you get in a self serve place. Everything was somewhat overpowered by the flavor of the greek yogurt.

The second attempt: Chocolate Hazelnut

Ingredients:

  • Full fat plain yogurt
  • Hazelnut sweetener, as found at Star Market
  • Nutella
  • Honey
  • Quite a bit of cocoa powder
  • Hot chocolate mix

We read in a different recipe that the yogurt needs to be strained before putting it into the freezer. If the water content is too high, it forms ice crystals and it ruins the consistency. So before adding any of the other ingredients, we put our yogurt in cheese cloth, put it in a strainer in the fridge and waited two hours.
When we took it out, a fair amount of yogurt liquid had drained through the cheese cloth (I’m sure we could have sold it as the next health food craze). We added the sweetener and the nutella and kept mixing in the food processor until it was a uniform color and texture. The sourness of the yogurt still overpowered the other flavors, and we kept adding honey until the sweetness came through.
After freezing it for two hours, the texture was much better than our first attempt, but I wasn’t especially fond of the flavor. There was still some iciness, but much less because of our switch away from greek yogurt and our straining it before we froze it.
My parents, who happened to be visiting gave it a try, and my dad said he liked it and it was very sweet, my mom said she liked it but it was too sweet.

Attempt 2.5: Green Tea

Ingredients:

  • Food grade matcha powder (purchased)
  • Full fat plain yogurt
  • Powdered sugar with corn starch added

Isabel was out for the evening and I fancied some frozen yogurt so I decided to try and make a very small batch with a few adjustments. This time I drained the yogurt using a coffee filter, and I added a liberal amount of powdered sugar. We read that sugar was a key to stabilizing the yogurt/preventing crystals, and powdered sugar dissolved easily into the yogurt. The resulting consistency was very creamy, and the flavor was very sweet without the aftertaste of the honey. The powdered sugar completely took away the sourness of the yogurt while still preserving the yogurty flavor.

Attempt 3: Green Tea

Ingredients:

  • Food grade matcha powder (purchased)
  • Full fat vanilla yogurt
  • Powdered sugar with corn starch added

Isabel and I bought some pre-sweetened vanilla yogurt for this attempt to cut out the sourness once and for all. We once again used a coffee filter to drain some of the water–but I think it may have become too wet/clogged up with the amount of yogurt we used. The resulting texture was still fairly icy, though it had a delicious green tea vanilla flavor.

The next steps…

I want to experiment with two techniques. The first, heating it on the stove to try and evaporate some of the liquid. Isabel suspects this will go poorly, as do I, but it seems worth a try. I’ll put it on very low heat and see if I can reduce it somewhat.
The second is to use fractional freezing to remove ice as it freezes. We’ve yet to be able to find a good way to do this as the ice always stays very attached to the yogurt, but I’m confident we’ll figure it out and make a delicious frozen yogurt. Next up is key lime flavor (a favorite of Isabel’s).

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