Even though we are having a fairly unreliable summer, icecream and summer holidays really do go hand in hand. I've never succumbed to an ice-cream machine since I don't like my work surface to be cluttered with gadgets and I have to therefore choose which gadgets I really need and which I can do without and for now the ice cream maker has fallen into this later category (added to which it would be far too dangerous for the waistline to have a machine I think!)
My girls love icecream but I do like giving them healthier versions of treats - and it's even better if they don't realise! This recipe uses plain yoghurt as the base so is much healthier than the custard based versions that use full fat milk/cream, eggs and sugar.
It does require you to plan it a bit in advance so that you can allow time for freezing and processing a few times but otherwise it is very simple.
To begin you make your strawberry jam. You basically need a third less sugar to strawberries. So if you have 300g strawberries you need 200g sugar. You can adapt this to your taste- if you like it sweeter use equal amounts of sugar and strawberries. If you want to cut down on the sugar then you can use less.
Take the stalks off the strawberries and cut them in half and put them in a pan with the sugar.
Put on a medium heat and allow the sugar to dissolve and the strawberries to soften.
Simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. The strawberry jam will thicken during this time and the smell truly is amazing (and look at that colour)!
At this stage you want to pour it into a plastic container and allow it to cool.
This jam can be used now on fresh toast or is delicious drizzled over pancakes. If you are wanting to make the frozen yoghurt you want to try and avoid eating it all now!
To this jam you now add plain yoghurt (fat free is fine as well as greek or normal plain - and if you can do homemade even better!) The better the quality of yoghurt the nicer the flavour obviously. Again the proportions depend on your own tastes. I would normally say that you need at least the same amount of yoghurt to jam otherwise it is more like a sorbet- I tend to use about double the amount of yoghurt. I had about 250ml jam and added 500ml plain yoghurt. Then blitz with a hand processor (or put it all in a food processor).
You can pass it through a seive at this point if you want the seeds removed but I like to leave them in. Then place it in a plastic sealable container and put in the freezer.
Leave for a couple of hours and remove when it is just set.
Mash it all together again with a fork to break down the ice crystals that are forming. This is really important since this is what makes the difference to how creamy it is. This is the main reason for having an icecream maker since it stirs it to stop the crystals forming.
Smooth it back down and put it back in the freezer for another couple of hours. When it has set again, remove from the freezer and put it all back in a food processor to break it down again and then pour back into the container and put it back in the freezer. The more times you can repeat this process the smoother your frozen yoghurt will be.
That's it! When ready to serve remove from the freezer for 10 minutes before you need it to soften slightly.
Serve as you would icecream- today it was in cones!
My girls (and husband) couldn't tell the difference to normal good quality icecream and loved how fresh it tasted (you really can taste the strawberries!) Still a treat but not quite so naughty and contains a good dose of fruit. As always you can adapt to taste- other soft fruits can be done in the same way. Needless to say that this batch didn't last long!