Plagued by a bad reputation and image issues for years, it’s safe to say that soy yogurt has finally moved out of the dark corner of specialty health food store and into mainstream markets. Once viewed as a sad substitute, more akin to radioactive sludge than cultured dairy products, this basic staple has come a long way in a very short time. Particularly thanks to WholeSoy & Co., dairy-intolerant folk all across the country have reason to be thankful come lunchtime, snack time, and even dessert. Organic and certified vegan, they have their priorities straight about what this creamy concoction should be, unlike some manufacturers who think it’s okay to use milk-based cultures.
WholeSoy’s myriad flavor choices have been proudly displayed even in my most rinky-dink local grocery store for years now, but something new is coming to shake things up a bit… Key lime and unsweetened plain options. I could hardly believe my luck when they offered to send me a sneak peek of each!
Thrilled to add a new taste to my lunch routine, I went straight for the container of key lime yogurt first. Happy to discover a mellow, warm shade of yellow beneath the lid and not artificial, florescent green, things certainly looked promising. Accustomed to highly sugared, pudding-like renditions, I was surprised at first to be met with such a tart, acidic flavor. Intense but in a good, “wake you up” sort of way, the lime flavor was very much present, bright and punchy, but still well balanced by just the right level of sweetness. The thick, rich mouth feel was almost like custard, and mercifully never approached the line of gummy or slimy. Once available nationwide, I know this flavor will be making more appearances in my meals!
Unexciting as it may sound, the unsweetened plain soygurt was actually the one I was most anxious to get my hands on. Surprisingly few options for such a simple variety exist, and this blank canvas can open the door to all sorts of cooking and baking applications, from sweet to savory and all things in between. Without the vaguest hint of sweetness and a very tangy finish, it has almost a cheesy flavor. Thoroughly drained and pressed, I can easily see it becoming a delicious farmer’s cheese type of spread! I couldn’t wait long enough to find out, but after two days sitting in cheesecloth, it did thicken up nicely to create…
Frozen yogurt. Blood orange frozen yogurt, to be precise. I must have caught the ice cream bug again because all of a sudden, I just can’t stop churning! The snow may be falling heavily, but I still can’t control those rabid cravings. With a few more gorgeous blood oranges languishing in the fridge, I felt compelled to do something special with them, and this easily fit the bill. Bold and tangy, the citrus sings a pitch-perfect harmony with the yogurt base. Crunchy shards of caramelized peel add in bursts of intense orange flavor, accompanied by deep, burnt sugar notes to round it all out. This recipe takes a bit more patience than your standard frozen dessert, but it is absolutely worth the wait.
Blood Orange Frozen Yogurt
1 24-Ounce Container Unsweetened Plain Soy Yogurt
2 Blood Oranges
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Water
3/4 Cup Light Agave Nectar
2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier, Limoncello, or Vodka
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
First things first, line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth, place over a large bowl to catch the drips, and pour all of the soy yogurt in. Cover the top with another sheet of cheesecloth, and place the plastic yogurt container lid on top of that. Use a can of beans or tomatoes (anything you’ve got) as a weight by putting it squarely on top of the plastic lid. The lid is there to disperse the weight a bit, and prevent yogurt from squeezing out around the sides of the can. Let sit in a cool place (but not the fridge) for approximately 48 hours, until 1/2 cup of “whey” has drained out.
Meanwhile, take your oranges and remove the peel in long, thin strips. Cut away as much pith as possible, and reserve the oranges’ flesh for later. Place the peels in a small sauce pan and add water to cover. Bring it to a boil, turn off the heat, and thoroughly drain away the liquid. Cover again with fresh water, and repeat this process for a total of 3 times. This will help to remove excess bitterness.
Next, add in the the sugar and 1/2 cup of water, turn on the heat to medium, and bring it to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat slightly so that it’s stays at a gentle but energetic simmer. Swirl the pan every few minutes, until the sugar begins to take on a golden amber color. At the point that the mixture is fully golden brown and caramelized, quickly pour everything out on a silpat or piece of parchment paper, and do you best to separate the peels. Let cool completely before breaking into small shards. Save them in an air-tight container to prevent the sugar from melting or softening.
With both of the most difficult elements ready to go, transfer the drained yogurt into your blender or food processor, along with the agave, alcohol of choice, and vanilla. Trim away any remaining white pith from the reserved orange flesh, remove pips if you spot any, and toss the whole oranges in as well. Blend thoroughly, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, until completely combined and perfectly smooth. Be patient, and don’t worry if the mixture becomes rather warm in the process.
Chill thoroughly for at least 2 hours before churning in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As you transfer the soft, fresh frozen yogurt into an air-tight container, fold in your caramelized orange peel shards. Stash the containers in your freezer for at least 4 hours before scooping and serving. The peels will eventually soften over time, so this is best served within a week, though it can certainly be stored longer.