Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tart Cherry Frozen Yogurt with Crispy Honey Cookies . . .

Summer--so they say--is briskly approaching, though I must say you'd never know it in south-eastern Michigan this week (please excuse me a minute while I stow away my soggy umbrella and put on a warm sweater). I'm giving this very rainy month of May the benefit of the doubt, though. It seems the least I can do. There are signs everywhere--unmistakable signs--that summer wants to arrive.

What kind of signs, you ask? Well, currently my favorite sign is a devoted mother robin. She built her nest in an ill-advised and completely unguarded location in a slim terracotta flower-pot, which hangs on the wooden fence that borders our driveway. After much quiet sitting on two lovely sky-blue eggs, her babies hatched a few days ago. This morning as I type, the chilly raindrops hammer her with no mercy, yet she remains huddled and completely still over her little birds. It seems she has the faith that she was born with, knowing without a doubt that warm weather is not far away. She's calm and hopeful. I choose to trust her instincts.

So, proceeding on the optimistic assumption that the days of hot sidewalks and lemonade stands aren't too distant, I've made a bright pink, tart-cherry, frozen yogurt. Yes, folks, 'tis the season to dust off your ice-cream maker and begin pondering the gorgeous possibilities for homemade summertime ice creams, sorbets, and fro-yos.

In scouting for the right recipe, I encountered several designed for use with fresh sour cherries; David Lebovitz, for example, has an easy formula in his valuable book, The Perfect Sccop. But I wanted one that called specifically for frozen cherries alone. Early in April, you may recall I mentioned having stumbled upon an extraordinary sale on frozen tart (aka sour-sour-sour!) Michigan cherries. I bought three large bags, used one of them to bake my son Charlie's 17th birthday cherry-lattice pie (which, by the way, was darn good), and stashed the rest in the freezer. Naturally, I wanted to use some of them again.

So, this week, I incorporated them into a cool, fresh, and appealing treat. The frozen yogurt recipe, which I've adapted here, was inspired by a recent post in a beautiful food blog called The Whole Kitchen.

My recipe differs from The Whole Kitchen's in that I used all frozen sour cherries, versus part sour and part sweet; I used superfine sugar instead of making a simple syrup; and I used Chambord raspberry liqueur instead of tequila as the minimal alcohol component. I also adjusted the ingredient proportions a tiny bit. The use of Greek style yogurt, which The Whole Kitchen recommends,  lends an especially pleasant creaminess that wouldn't be so evident with the use of a regular, lower-fat yogurt.

Speaking of cookies . . . 

And what goes better with a small scoop of something sweet and frosty than a charming cookie? Crunchy and wheaty without being overpowering, these lean happily toward the healthier end of the cookie spectrum.

I must admit that I love hard cookies that require a lot of chewing, something I may have divulged to you previously. I'm like a canine with a milk-bone dog biscuit that way. Can't help myself. The longer you bake these, the longer it takes to gnaw on them. (Not into gnawing? Want your cookies softer? Just take them out of the oven before they get too golden, and consider making them a little thicker to start with.)

The  recipe is one that I adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, a substantial and satisfying volume that I've mentioned before (most recently here, just a couple of weeks ago). I changed it up slightly by substituting a small amount of honey for some of the sugar, and instead of using all  whole wheat flour, which makes for a heavy duty cookie that doesn't always have broad appeal, I used about 60 percent whole wheat with white flour for the balance.

These cookies are rolled out and cut with cookie cutters, but the dough--which must be briefly chilled and is kind of sticky--is very forgiving and can accommodate a good bit of flour to make the rolling and cutting process pain-free.

Happy slurping and crunching! (And bring on summer, please!)

Tart-Cherry Frozen Yogurt

(For a printable version of this recipe, and the cookie recipe below, click here!)

1 cup fully frozen sour cherries
2 and 1/2 cups frozen sour cherries that have been mostly thawed
1 cup superfine sugar
2 cups Greek style yogurt (I used Trader Joe's brand)
2 Tbsp. Chambord raspberry liqueur (or a comparable liqueur like kirsch, for eg.)
Fresh lemon juice to taste (I used at least 2 tsp., maybe more)

In the bowl of a food processor, puree all of the cherries along with the sugar; pulse a few times until well combined.

Add in the yogurt and pulse to combine. Then add in the liqueur and pulse to combine, and add the lemon juice to taste.

Pour the mixture into a container and cover it tightly. Chill it for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Prepare the frozen yogurt in your ice cream maker according to its specific directions. (In my ice cream maker, which is the Kitchen Aid attachment to my mixer, I slowly churned the chilled mixture for 30 minutes. Then I poured it into a glass container, covered it tightly with plastic wrap, and put that in the coldest part of my freezer for at least 24 hours to firm up. The yogurt was nicely scoopable and not too hard when I took it out of the freezer the next day.)

Crunchy Honey Wheat Cookies 

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup All-Purpose white flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter, sugar, honey, and salt, then add in the orange juice, vanilla extract, wheat flour, white flour, and baking powder.  Beat until well mixed.

Flatten the dough into 2 equal disks, wrap them in plastic wrap, and chill them in the fridge for 30 minutes or more.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Taking one disk of dough from the fridge at a time, roll the dough out on a floured surface into a circle about 14" in diameter. Use cookie cutters to cut out any shapes you like. It's okay to roll and re-roll the dough scraps. Repeat with the second disk of dough, or freeze it dough for use another time.

Place the pieces on the cookie sheet; they can be fairly close together as they spread very little. Bake them for about 12 to 15 minutes or so, checking them early on. Reverse the tray from front to back in the oven after about 7 minutes for even baking. If you'd like crispier cookies, bake them longer, until they're quite golden. Let them cool on a rack.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Chele said...

Oh dear - you'd think that Mummy Bird would have thought on about her choice of nursery! In any case the frozen yoghurt and cookies look fab ;0)

Stella said...

Hey Jane, I hope your'e doing well.

I know it's still cold up there or so I hear on the news, but it is starting be blistering hot here in our subtropical hollow. I'm hesitant to even go outside and down my stairs to the basement and do laundry (no indoor staircase!). Yes, it's that hot.

I'm going to save this recipe to my files. My Cauldron Boy needs something like this on hand, as he doesn't handle the heat well. Plus, it looks super delicious!

Jane said...

Hello Chele,
Yes, we were pretty surprised at her choice of housing! I figure there must be method to her madness, but exactly what it might be I'm just not sure. It's kind of inspiring to watch her. I just hope those babies make it safely to maturity!
Thanks so much,
:) Jane

Hi there Stella,
Thanks, yes, we are doing well! :) Oh, Stella, I sure wish it would warm up in these parts. I would love, just once, to be able to use the termd "subtropical" in reference to Michigan. (I hadn't really realized where you lived until I read about your stroll with your mom recently, when you found a really interesting berry I'd never seen or heard of before.) Glad you like this fro-yo recipe. I hope Cauldron Boy benefits from it!
Jane :)

Alejandra Ramos said...

Those honey wheat cookies look incredible! And I have to say that sour cherry frozen yogurt (the homemade kind) is one of my absolute favorites. I like to add a dash of almond to mine and I'm in heaven!

faithy, the baker said...

I've been waiting for your post since your last blog post! :) Yummy yoghurt and looks easy to do! I have to try it. And i LOVE your cookies! It's rolled to so thin and keep it shape so well! Do you think i can use it as a base cookie and ice with RI on top?

Katrina said...

This is the perfect pairing. It's so appropriate for spring. Yum!

Jane said...

Hi there Alejandra,
You know, if I'd remembered to do so, I think I would have added in a couple drops of almond extract. I know I saw a couple of cherry fro-yo recipes that called for it, and I thought it was a good idea. Next time I will try it that way!
Many thanks,
:) Jane

Hi Faithy,
Yep, it's a super easy frozen yogurt recipe. And the cookie recipe's ultra easy too! You can definitely use royal icing on these cookies. If you make them thin enough, and bake them long enough, they will be very smooth and rigid. Just right for that kind of icing. Thanks for always saying such nice things, Faithy!
Jane :)

Hello Katrina--
Oh, I know what you mean. It is indeed the perfect pairing. In fact, I always love pairing frozen desserts with something light and crunchy on the side like a little cookie. In fact, if I get an ice cream cone, I usually deconstruct it, put the IC in a bowl, and break up the cone to use like cookie pieces!
:) Keep on baking,

Helen said...

I really need to get myself a ice cream maker and David's book. I've seen so many great ice cream recipes on blogs recently. The ice cream cookie combo always works and this looks so yummy. I hope summer arrives soon!

Juliana said...

Jane, what a lovely frozen yogurt...unfortunately I do not own an ice cream maker...the cookies are a great complement since it can balance the tartness of the cherry...great pictures :-)

Cocina Savant said...

What a delectable set of desserts. It seems like the only thing better than dessert are dessert that play well together. This sounds like something to try in the near warming future.

Lucy said...

I've not made much ice cream before, but this definitely inspires me to get my ice cream maker out! I love the vibrant colour, and can just imagine the flavour combination with the honey cookies. Mmmm!

Foodessa said...

What an adorable and informative post. I can't wait until we get our plump, juicy cherries. This recipe might just be one for my repertoire!
Flavourful wishes, Claudia

Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot said...

Mmm I love frozen yogurt and cherries. What a great combo! I just bought a bunch of cherries too. :)

Keisha said...

Hello, Is the whole wheat flour completely necessary, is there any sub.?