Rising temperatures here in the Southland call for an ice cream report. For that, we turn to Dana Cree. While working as a pastry chef at the Publican in Chicago, she started selling her pints labeled with “Hello, my name is…” stickers. That led to a new cookbook on the science behind the frozen confection titled, “Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream.”
As the tender, young roots of early spring ginger are starting to show at our local farmers’ markets, we thought we’d try our hand at Cree’s recipe for fresh ginger frozen yogurt. Why frozen yogurt and not ice cream, you ask? Our frozen dessert expert tells us that the acidity of Greek yogurt makes it a natural flavor base for fruit and the warm, spicy taste of fresh ginger. Just be sure to use a full-fat yogurt when making this recipe to ensure a smooth, creamy texture. Fewer ice crystals will form during the churning process than if you use nonfat yogurt, which has a higher water content.
Since many of us probably don’t own commercial-grade frozen yogurt or ice cream-making equipment, Cree offers helpful tips in her book for texture agents to try like cornstarch, tapioca starch and xanthan gum to stabilize the moisture content. Master these tricks and you’re sure to end up with a creamy luscious dessert that’ll have everyone asking for more!
FRESH GINGER FROZEN YOGURT
Cree purées and cooks her ginger down to a syrupy reduction, which she quickly chills before adding it to her yogurt base. In raw form, the fibrous rhizomes contain an enzyme that cuts milk proteins and can curdle yogurt. She suggests curing your frozen yogurt base at least 4 hours in the refrigerator, although curing it overnight will greatly improve texture and flavor.
Yield: Makes between 1 and 1½ quarts of frozen yogurt
2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup honey
A 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
¾ cup water
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup glucose
Texture agent of your choice (see below)
Prepare the base: In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, cream and honey. Transfer the yogurt mixture to the refrigerator.
Prepare the ginger syrup: Chop the ginger into pea-sized pieces and place them in a blender, then add the water. Blend on high until the ginger is completely pulverized, then transfer the purée to a small saucepan.
Bring the ginger purée to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, then strain. Add the sugar and glucose to the ginger purée and cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Once the syrup comes to a full rolling boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the syrup for a minute longer. Remove the ginger syrup from heat and set aside, allowing the ginger to infuse in the syrup for 30 minutes. Using a ¾ fine-mesh sieve, strain the syrup into a shallow metal or glass bowl.
Chill the ginger syrup: Now fill a large glass bowl two-thirds of the way full with very icy water. Nest your bowl of ginger syrup in the ice bath, whisking occasionally until it cools down. The syrup should thicken as it cools.
Make the base: Remove the bowl from the ice bath once the ginger syrup has cooled to 50ºF or below. Add the reserved yogurt mixture to the ginger syrup and whisk until evenly combined. This will be your base.
Optional: Strain the the base through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any remaining particles. This will ensure the smoothest frozen yogurt possible.
Cure the base: Transfer the base to the refrigerator to cure for 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
Best texture: Mix 1 teaspoon of commercial stabilizer with the sugar before adding it to the ginger syrup.
Least icy: Blend ¼ teaspoon of guar or xanthan gum with the frozen yogurt base after it is thoroughly chilled.
Easiest to use: Whisk 2 teaspoons tapioca starch with 2 tablespoons cold water. Whisk the mixture into the strained ginger syrup over low heat until thickened.
Most accessible: Whisk 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water. Whisk the mixture into the strained ginger syrup and then simmer for 1 minute.
Photos by Andrea D’Agosto.