Monday, June 23, 2008

Lowfat Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

Happy Summer! We spent the first weekend of the summer doing Pond-O-Rama, the garden tour of the St. Louis Water Gardening Society. We saw lots of beautiful and inspiring gardens.

When I posted about my strawberry sorbet, two people asked about the ice cream maker I got with my birthday money last month. It's a Cuisinart ICE-20. I bought it at Cornucopia, the kitchen store in Kirkwood, but Bed, Bath, and Beyond carries it as well. The going rate seems to be about $50. Ice cream makers underwent a revolution while I wasn't paying attention. They now involve a gel-filled freezer bowl that you have to remember to put in the freezer a day before you want your frozen dessert. The advantages of these new styles is that they don't require messing with rock salt and they make small amounts suitable for small families.

This recipe doesn't have a single local ingredient. Someone else can do the calculations about the relative carbon footprint of freezing your own dessert versus buying factory-made and freezer-truck-shipped product. The reason I'm making my own frozen desserts is less about being green and more about using ingredients that I'm happy to eat.

I combined this recipe with the one in the booklet that came with my ice cream maker. But I wanted to use nonalkalized cocoa as my flavoring because I read somewere that was the healthier way to consume chocolate (how's that for good library research?). I've been using Chatfield's Premium cocoa from Whole Foods but I'm open to hearing about sources that are Fair Trade, especially if they are produced in the Midwest.

I've had two problems with this recipe. I'll write about my solutions but this is also a plea for more experience cooks to let me know how I should be handling these ingredients.

Problem One is getting the lumps out of the cocoa and cornstarch. I'm sure the correct tool for the job is a sifter (I'm pretty sure that I have my mother's in a box somewhere), but I've been dumping them in the saucepan and using a whisk to break up the lumps. I've yet to find lumps in the final product whether or not I worked to get rid of them, so this may be a problem that is being solved somewhere along the way without my effort.

Problem Two is a sticky substance that develops at the bottom of the sauce pan when I'm heating the evaporated milk and other ingredients. I've started putting the saucepan on very low heat, stirring continuously with a metal spatula, and raising the heat very gradually to boiling. That seems to have solved it. The sticky stuff doesn't re-melt into the mix, but it does taste like a fudgy taffy, so not an unpleasant surprise in chocolate frozen yogurt.

EDIT August 17, 2008: It turns out that the biggest problem I've had with lumpiness in my frozen yogurt this summer was from another source entirely -- the evaporated skim milk. I learned this: don't shake the can and don't scrape the gunk out of the bottom of the can. If you do, you get milky, flavorless lumps in the final product.

Lowfat Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

2 tsp cornstarch
3/8 cup nonalkalized cocoa
1 can evaporated skim milk
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 1/2 cup lowfat vanilla yogurt

1. Whisk the cornstarch and cocoa together in a small saucepan.

2. Whisk in the evaporated milk and the agave nectar.

3. Cook over low heat while continuously stirring with a metal spatula. Gradually increase the heat until the chocolate mix begins to boil. Turn off the heat and continue stirring for a couple of minutes.

4. Allow the chocolate to cool for a few minutes. Stir by spoonfuls into the yogurt.

5. Chill the yogurt mixture in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

6. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for freezing the yogurt in an ice cream maker.

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