Many wonderful fruits are available again as summer rolls around, and one of my favorites: cherries! There’s something fun about having a ton of cherries and just lazily working through them, munching and spitting out the pits. While this dessert won’t give you the pit spitting experience, its still a delicious way to enjoy these little red jewels: Cherry Frozen Yogurt with Chocolate Stracciatella.
I really enjoyed the taste of this and was especially pleased since this was my first foray into the world of frozen yogurt. It was rich, but not as heavy as the ice creams I’m used to making. I was also quite pleased that it was similar in texture to the ice creams I’m used to–creamy, easily scooped, but firm enough to hold a respectable shape. Plus, the flavor was wonderful–the fresh, sweet, dark flavor the cherries combined with the rich tang of the yogurt put this on a much higher plane than the alleged “frozen yogurt” we’re all used to from some other eateries usually found in a mall. I chose to round the flavors out a bit with some cognac, almond, and since I think cherries and chocolate are a match made in heaven, stracciatella. If “stracciatella” sounds fancy and intimidating, its really just a high fallooting way of saying chocolate chips/shavings in ice cream that earns you cool points and classy points for every time you say it (and yes, I’ve technically misused it since it really refers to a vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips, but I still get all the cool points. Questioning my word usage means you lose 10 cool points).
For all the similarities, I was also quite pleased with how much easier it is–no eggs to separate/cook, no straining, no steeping, etc. So if you’ve been tempted to try making ice cream at home but have thus far been afraid to try it, what I’m trying to say is frozen yogurt is a fantastic compromise–you’ll get spectacular results for very minimal effort and its healthier than ice cream.
This is also another one of my entries in You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream for Frozen Desserts, an event focused on the cold treats to fight off the summer heat. Join in the fun and whip up something cold. Also, be sure to check back later to see what everyone else has been churning!
- 3 cups cherries (I used Bing cherries)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp cognac
- few drops of almond extract
- Optional: 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate
The first step is the most labor intensive step of this recipe: prepping the cherries. If you have a cherry pitter, I’m sure you can fly through this step, but I don’t. Granted, I think its pretty easy and something you could have done in under 10 minutes, but the prospect of pitting all of those cherries by hand merits an audible groan. So let it out and get to work. Pop off the stems, roll them under your knife to quickly split them in half, and just fold open, tossing the pit to one side and the cherry flesh into a saucepan. Be careful not to stain your clothing during all of this. One cherry in there is plotting against you. Watching. Waiting.
With all of your cherries pitted, toss them with the sugar in the saucepan and crank up the heat to medium-high. Stir this periodically and the cherries will begin to soften and surrender their juices while the sugar will dissolve and form a delicious syrup. After about 10 minutes or so, the cherries ought to be fairly tender and you should have a good bit of juice. Remove from heat once you do.
Now, while the cherries are hot, transfer this to the food processor or blender. If you want cherry chunks in your final frozen yogurt, don’t puree just yet, but maybe give a quick few pulses. If you’d rather have the cherry completely mixed in to your final frozen yogurt (as I chose to do this time), puree this mixture well.
If you have a lot of free time, let this cool to room temperature before you go any further. I sped things along by setting this in a bowl over an ice bath for about 20 minutes. Once the cherry mixture is sufficiently cool, add the yogurt, cognac, and almond extract and stir everything together (or, like I did, simply put it all through the food processor!) until well mixed.
Set this aside in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (press it right against the surface), and let this rest in the fridge for about 2 hours so it can cool down.
Once time is up, churn this in your ice cream maker according to the directions that came with your machine.
If you choose to add the stracciatella, about 2 minutes before the churning is done, melt your chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (30 seconds, stir, another 30 seconds, stir, and repeat if necessary until totally and nicely melted down). Once the chocolate is in liquid form, pour a very thin stream into the churning ice cream maker, doing your best to avoid the dasher (but let’s be realistic…). The thin stream of chocolate will resolidify into little chunks on contact with the cold yogurt and it will be quite nicely dispersed throughout the frozen yogurt.
Transfer this to an air tight container and let it rest in the freezer over night. Then, either grab a bowl of cherries, or if you’re not in the mood to spit pits, a bowl of cherry frozen yogurt, and enjoy!