Cherry Dark Chocolate Chunk Frozen Yogurt

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Photographing frozen yogurt is not an easy task. Scooping perfectly round and photogenic scoops? Wiping the ever-evolving condensation from the glasses you thought it would be a good idea to chill? Getting (more than) enough decent shots in before the bright lights and muggy summer air melt it into yogurt soup?

It’s almost as hard as making frozen yogurt. Or rather, I should say, storing it. Making it is the easy part. It’s Eating it a few hours later is a breeze too. It’s what happens next that I wish I could eliminate altogether.

All my favorite (commercial, chemically-laden) frozen yogurt manufacturers can do it, so why can’t I?

We are talking about making soft, scoopable-straight-from-the-freezer frozen yogurt. And that’s a lot harder than it sounds.

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When I was a young’n (ok, 26) and first bought my ice cream attachment, I had high hopes of become the Next Fro-Yo Star. I stocked my fridge with quart upon quart of plain, fat-free Greek yogurt. Flavor after flavor danced through my head as I imagined what could be added to the soft, creamy tart base. The problem? Every batch of frozen yogurt I transferred to my freezer transformed itself into a rock-hard mass after a day. Apparently this is what happens when you try to make ice cream at home without any fat or sugar. Supposedly these ingredients are, shall we say, necessary? Phooey.

I persevered. And I Googled. And I took plenty of notes from other food bloggers. I added vodka to my fro-yo blends in attempt to lower it’s freezing point. I whisked in arrowroot or corn starch to break up the ice crystals. When all else failed, I took my brick o’ fro-yo out of the freezer, and waited. And waited some more. Until I could manage to get a spoon in there without breaking my wrist. Then I pretended that it was really that good though if you pestered me enough I’d probably break down and admit that the texture was not all that great. Please tell me you’ve been there.

In an attempt to discover the secret to fro-yo that stays soft-enough-to-scoop, I went to a not-so-secret source: the side of the box. Or rather, the internet, because a stroll down the ice cream aisle would have been much too tempting. And cold. I found a common ingredient in many of the commercially made frozen yogurts that I just happen to have in my fridge: guar gum. (Yes, I know that not everyone and their mother regularly keeps guar gum around. Guar gum is a natural food thickener, and it’s readily available at health food stores. I like adding it to my protein shakes to make them a bit creamier.) So for this batch of freshly-picked-cherry frozen yogurt, I held my breath and added a teaspoon of the gum. Then I exhaled, and threw in a big handful of dark chocolate. At least if the guar gum ruined the batch, the chocolate would save it.

So did I uncover the secret? Sort of. Kind of. Not quite. The guar gum definitely kept the yogurt a bit softer during the first twenty-four hours of freezing, but after that, it was still back to the rock-hard show. And I was back to playing the waiting game, making sure to move the frozen yogurt to the fridge or counter well before I wanted to eat it. However, I did notice that as the ice cream warmed up, it softened more evenly than batches I’ve made without the guar gum, resulting in a creamier texture on the spoon and in the mouth.

Ben thought that too. In fact, he really liked this ice cream. And I didn’t pester him for hours to get him to say that.

So maybe I’m on to something. I have a couple more tricks up my sleeve I’m hoping to try out soon (with this heat wave we’re about to experience, that could be very soon.) But in the meantime, I’d be thrilled to have another batch of this cherry dark chocolate chunk frozen yogurt in my freezer.

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Cherry Dark Chocolate Chunk Frozen Yogurt
Printable Recipe

2 cups pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
2 cups (16oz) nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon guar gum
10 drops liquid stevia, or other sweetener to taste (optional)
2 1/2 oz dark chocolate, chopped finely

Add the cherries, yogurt, almond milk, honey and vanilla extract to a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Blend in the guar gum and adjust sweetener to taste.

Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Fold in chocolate chunks with a spatula, and transfer the frozen yogurt to a 1-quart air-tight container. Freeze the mixture for 2-3 hours for soft-serve like consistency. If the ice cream is frozen longer, let soften in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes, or at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 139.5
Total Fat 3.8 g
Saturated Fat 2.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 35.5 mg
Potassium 98.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 21.7 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Sugars 19.0 g
Protein 6.6 g

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays for 8/9/2011 over at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

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20 Responses to “Cherry Dark Chocolate Chunk Frozen Yogurt”

  1. 1

    Terra — August 8, 2011 @ 3:47 am Reply

    In commercials they use crisco, then no melting;-) Your pics look gorgeous! Love the addition of Greek yogurt:-) Hugs, Terra

  2. 2

    Kate — August 8, 2011 @ 4:53 am Reply

    I love that you talk about how making frozen yogurt is easy.  I believe anything you make is probably easy for you!

  3. 3

    Molly — August 8, 2011 @ 1:23 pm Reply

    I just made the same delightful dessert this weekend, but mine was full on bad for you stuff, heavy cream and milk. I'm tempted to make a batch of this and do a blind taste test with friends. Very, very tempted. 

  4. 4

    Emily — August 8, 2011 @ 1:27 pm Reply

    I just asked for an ice cream maker for my birthday so that I can replicate recipes just like this. Looks SO good – and healthy!

  5. 5

    Branappetit — August 8, 2011 @ 1:29 pm Reply

    this looks so good!

  6. 6

    Cara — August 8, 2011 @ 1:29 pm Reply

    haha, well I mean the part about throwing some stuff in the food processor – that part is easy!

  7. 7

    Junia @ Mis Pensamientos — August 8, 2011 @ 2:08 pm Reply

    i love healthy ice cream! great job making it with almond milk :D 

  8. 8

    Joanne — August 8, 2011 @ 4:18 pm Reply

    When I made my first batch of ice cream and was getting ready to photograph it…I realized we didn't actually own an ice cream scoop.  No perfectly round scoops for me!Oh well.  This looks quite fab though.  First stop – pick up guar gum.  Next stop – make fro-yo.  Cause we all know I always have greek yogurt and chocolate chunks in my apartment.

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    Chrysta — August 8, 2011 @ 5:26 pm Reply

    hey darlin! oh Im back…but Ive been catching up! Had some family in town for awhile so I was limiting my internet usage=) BUT..this photo just made my day. Its about 100 here, which I love. But fro-yo sounds so awesome. I totally understand how hard ice cream is to photograph. I actually took a professional food styling class awhile back and I they gave us a few "tricks" for ice cream I can email ya if you want. You did an AMAZING job though. Im licking my screen! Have an awesome day!

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    Ari@ThE DiVa DiSh — August 8, 2011 @ 5:50 pm Reply

    yum!! That sounds amazing :) anything cherry I am in LOVE with!!

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    Elina (Healthy and Sane) — August 8, 2011 @ 5:56 pm Reply

    I have guar gum too so I'm going to use this trick next. I agree – I love how delicious and creamy it is when it comes out of the ice cream maker… but a day later, it just feels like a little fat is totally worth it. Keep doing your research… I fully support it ;)

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    Marla Meridith — August 8, 2011 @ 6:46 pm Reply

    Beautiful frozen yogurt. I know what you mean about that guar gum thing. I have never used it. Photographing frozen foods is a HUGE challenge isn't it!! Looks beautiful though.

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    Gwen — August 9, 2011 @ 1:47 am Reply

    Man, that is frusterating I'm sure! I thank you for your perserverance and tips tho as I've always wanted to make fro-yo. My #1 fav is cherry fro-yo! This was ment to be. ;)Oh, absolutely gorgeous photos, again, patience is obviously key. ;)

  14. 14

    Gwen — August 9, 2011 @ 1:48 am Reply

    Man, that is frusterating I'm sure! I thank you for your perserverance and tips tho as I've always wanted to make fro-yo. My #1 fav is cherry fro-yo! This was ment to be. ;)Oh, absolutely gorgeous photos, again, patience is obviously key. ;)

  15. 15

    Nicole, RD — August 9, 2011 @ 1:56 am Reply

    This is like the perfect remake of whatever husband has in the freezer which is 180 calories per 1/2 cup and a WHOLE lotta saturated fat. Looks delicious…the pictures are wonderful! I have such a hard time with the scooping and condensation, too. I'm posting a sorbet tomorrow and those shots were the best I could do!

  16. 16

    Kevin (Closet Cooking) — August 9, 2011 @ 11:27 pm Reply

    That frozen looks amazing and the cherry and chocolate combo if perfect!

  17. 17

    Kerstin — August 10, 2011 @ 3:16 am Reply

    This looks fabulous and Apolinaras would especially love it – bookmarked :)

  18. 18

    grace — August 10, 2011 @ 8:39 am Reply

    i think you did a masterful job of both making and photographing this batch of yogurt–chocolate and cherries make a wonderful team. :)

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    Kristi Rimkus — August 12, 2011 @ 4:41 am Reply

    Love the ingredients. Fresh cherries are in abundance right now, so I'll have to give this a try.

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    Shannon — August 22, 2011 @ 5:52 pm Reply

    have you tried 2% greek yogurt?  I think it helps a bit too…  and i've heard you need some fat to absorb all of the calcium.   i'll have to give this a try, as i have some guar gum sitting around begging to be used!

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