Make Light and Fresh Summer Desserts With Whipped Greek Yogurt

Photograph: Vicky Wasik. 

When it's too hot to turn on the oven or stand over a stove, your dessert options can really start to dwindle. One of my favorite summertime tricks is to make a batch of whipped Greek yogurt, which is exactly what it sounds like—a cross between airy whipped cream and dense yogurt.

It's a combination that offers the best of both worlds. The tangy Greek yogurt provides some heft to the whipped cream, giving it a consistency somewhere between pudding and mousse, while simultaneously cutting through its richness (because, as much as I love whipped cream I can only eat a few spoonfuls before tapping out). Meanwhile, the whipped cream aerates the heavy yogurt and mellows its acidic bite, transforming it into something more like dessert.

For this recipe, it's important to start with true Greek yogurt, which is strained to reduce its water content. You can make it yourself, or else look for brands that list nothing more than milk and active cultures in the ingredients list (my favorite brand is Fage). Brands that include gum, gelatin, or pectin thicken the yogurt artificially rather than through straining, which produces a thick but watery yogurt. Along those same lines, plain yogurt is a no-go as well; in order to whip up light and thick, this recipe requires a low-moisture foundation.

That said, feel free to play with different types of sweeteners. Baked goods may depend on the specific behavior and pH of sugar, but whipped Greek yogurt is amenable to flavorful alternatives like sorghum, maple syrup, honey, or even treacle. My personal favorite is golden syrup, as the rich caramel notes make a perfect counterpoint to the bright, fresh taste of the yogurt. The mixture can also be doctored with vanilla bean seeds or rose water for a more aromatic approach.

Whatever you choose, the recipe itself is laughably simple: put all the ingredients in a bowl and whip until nice and thick.

It can be used right away as a topping, dolloped over French toast and crispy waffles if you're into the breakfast-for-dessert, or else refrigerated overnight until it thickens into something like a parfait.

Should you decide to fire up the oven after all, whipped Greek yogurt is a perfect match for everything from angel food cake and blueberry pie to sour cream poundcake.

Whipped Greek yogurt is one of my favorite accompaniments for fresh fruits too delicate for baking, with a handful of toasted nuts for a bit of crunch. It's also a solid alternative to ice cream or frozen yogurt, and buried under my crispy granola it's a pretty decadent brunch.

8 ounces plain Greek yogurt, any percentage will do (about 1 cup; 225g), see note
6 ounces heavy cream (about 3/4 cup; 170g)
2 ounces golden syrup, sorghum, honey, or maple (about 3 tablespoons; 55g)
1/4 teaspoon rose water, or vanilla extract or the seeds from 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Pinch of salt

Combine Greek yogurt, cream, sweetener, vanilla, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix at low speed to start, then increase to high and whip until the mixture is thick and stiff, about 5 minutes. Use immediately as a soft, whipped cream–like topping, or, to serve as a parfait, divide into serving dishes and refrigerate until thickened (roughly 45°F).
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