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How Can I Make This Greek Yogurt Ice Cream Richer and More Complex?

I've been developing a homemade recipe for Frozen Greek Yogurt and would appreciate some input. I've gotten to the point where it tastes very very good and I'd like it to be excellent.

My recipe is:
- 700 grams full-fat yogurt
- 10 TBSP Sugar
- 1 scoop whey protein isolate
- 2 TBSP Olive Oil
- 1 Tsp. Cardomon
- 1 Tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 Vanilla beans (seeds scraped out).

This incarnation gave a very rich taste compared to using plain yogurt and sugar, and I'm just not sure where it was coming from--was it mostly the Olive Oil, the Cardomon, or the vanilla beans?

So, would appreciate any suggestions on how I might "deepen" the flavor? (E.g., should I just double up on everything that seemed to make it good, or do experienced cooks typically do something more intelligent than that?)

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  1. Why not use honey or agave syrup instead of or in addition to white sugar?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Berheenia

      Do you have a suggestion for how you'd go about using (raw) honey? I don't like heating honey and it comes out of the jar quite hard.

    2. Is making your own yogurt an option? If so, you could steep the vanilla seeds in the milk right from the get go.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Violatp

        Great idea. I actually just bought that "VitaClay" device which can make yogurt, so making vanilla yogurt is great incentive to try it....

      2. A bit of salt will help bring out the complexity of the flavors.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Tara57

          I was going to recommend salt as well.

          1. re: Tara57

            There should already be salt in the yogurt. I would be cautious about adding more until I made sure the salt already in the mixture isn't enough.

            1. re: 1POINT21GW

              There is no salt added to yogurt in the recipes I've made or read for unflavored yogurt, as I believe the NaCl would impede the bacteria at work in turning the milk to yogurt, and I know that none is added to Fage (at least not plain Fage). The only sodium present should be from what occurs naturally in milk.

              That being said, I agree that salt should only be added to one's taste preference, and if you are also interested in preserving active cultures, you would not want to kill them off with oversalting.

              1. re: 1POINT21GW

                Salt is already in yogurt? That's a new one. Is it naturally occuring? Like sugar (milk sugars)?

                  1. re: 1POINT21GW

                    Naturally occurring, not as an added ingredient. Just as in many foods, yet add a bit of salt brings out flavors. How is this different?

            2. Let it rest on the counter for about 10 minutes before partaking.

              1. Refrigerate the base for 1 - 2 days (2 being better) before you spin it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: 1POINT21GW

                  this idea of aging ice cream base is new to me, does it apply to all ice cream bases? or is the cardamom and vanilla that will deepen or mellow or something with age...

                  1. re: julesrules

                    Well, some believe it helps meld the flavors (just as with allowing flavors to meld in other foods) and some, like Harold McGee, say not to bother with it.

                    I say, especially if it has a number of ingredients and flavors (yogurt, olive oil, cardamom, vanilla, etc. vs. just milk, eggs, and sugar) that are quite different from each other, to try both ways and see which way works best.

                2. Agree with suggestion to add a bit of salt. Maybe add some lemon zest or some bourbon, too?

                  1. Salt and age your base

                    1. Are you using Greek yogurt? Your recipe just reads, "full-fat yogurt." If so, which brand are you using? I find Fage to be the creamiest of the commercially available (trendy, but true). To make it even richer, you could try straining it before using, but in my experience, there is not much loose water remaining in Fage. Also, in my experience you do not need to bother with the isolate, just use non-fat milk powder in the same measure.

                      Regarding the vanilla beans, are you just using the seeds? You might not get much flavor from the the bean husks themselves in a refrigerated liquid unless steeped for quite a long time. Perhaps try steeping whichever part of the pod you are using in a half-cup of heated heavy cream beforehand and adding all to the mixture once cooled. You might find this also allows you to back off on the vanilla extract needed.

                      I agree with the suggestions regarding aging and salting your base. Salt should make the flavors pop and aging should fully hydrate/dissolve the milk powder or isolate. An ounce of your choice of honey flavored bourbon (Jack Daniel's is actually decent) will add depth and aid creaminess by protecting against ice crystal formation and slightly lowering the freezing point.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                        Yes, I use Fage--and I've also found that not much liquid comes out when I try to strain it. And I like the whey isolate for the added protein (it actually makes the ice cream roughly fit the "zone" diet).

                        Bourbon's an interesting idea...

                        1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                          And, yes, I realize that Jack Daniel's is not technically a bourbon. :-)

                        2. Thanks for posting this very interesting recipe - am learning from the discussion and may have to try it this summer!

                          1. This recipe, to me, calls for orange or lemon zest, fresh or candied.

                            1. Maybe i missed it in the thread - but how do you make the base ? Heating involved ? And you mean you used 1 tsp ground cardamon ? Have you left the base to "age" in fridge for a day or better two ? And don't forget that the temp you eat the ice cream of course has influence on the "depth" of flavors :-)

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: oferl

                                No heating in making of base--just mixed with hand blender. And yes 1 tsp. of ground cardamon.

                                I'm excited to try the suggestions here later this week (including aging base for 2 days), as the weather warms here in N. England...

                                1. re: 99Jason

                                  You must heat the base in order to make flavors stronger - better to use cracked whole cardamons and the vanilla beans, i think their potential is maximized by far only when heating and aging is involved, and after scraping leave the sticks inside until it goes to machine. I think that mixing vanilla and cardamon togheter in quantities, might be a bit too "overpowering" and better to concentrate on one. If you want more interesting flavors inside, try adding an interesting exotic and better fruity teabag with the spices, it might work nicely.
                                  Try to cook the mixture with the spices on low to medium heat for under 10 minutes and make sure you don't get close to 100 C, if mixture a bit grainy, smooth it in blender after aging and on it's way to machine. This kind of heating worked great for me in the past with yogurt for infusing flavors, temp control and steering is quite important. I think that you will be better of with non fat milk powder then the whey, for texture i would have added tiny bit of emulsifier with the suger and before the cooking, like the cremodan powder or pectin powder.. For sure due to lack of hugh fat %, alchohol and sugar etc., this ice cream is not "freeze friendly" and better eaten right after churning, but this might ease a bit the "situation" :-)