It’s summer, and it’s hot – I think that's the reality for anyone in the lower half of the Northern Hemisphere right now, especially the Mediterranean region. As much as I love baking, I just can't be in the kitchen for too long or eat anything too heavy in this heat. When it's sweltering out there, most of us crave something cool and preferably fresh. So here are more than a few ways you can make cool yogurt-based snacks for your family and friends – or just enjoy them all yourself.
The lazy one
I feel nostalgic about this one as my mother would always make them for us when we were kids. I say "lazy," but considering that we had a huge house with a big garden and three ankle-biters, it would be unfair. For this recipe, all you'll need is some of those fruit-flavored yogurts that are sold in pretty much every market. Choose the ones that are sold in multipacks so you can create mini frozen treats. Once home, make a small incision in the foiled seal at the top, just enough to insert a small spoon – or better, if you have them, popsicle sticks. Toss the yogurt into the freezer and after a few hours, you can remove the top and outer shell of the yogurt cup, and there you have it – your very own yogurt popsicle ready-to-go! Due to the added sugar content in this kind of yogurt, this may not be the healthiest of snacks, but it is definitely a cheaper alternative to buying popsicles every day, especially when you should avoid going outside anyways.
The lazy one – but healthy
For this one, you'll need freeze-safe cups and to make your own flavored yogurt. Get yourself some plain probiotic yogurt and add a bit of honey to sweeten the deal. Then you can literally add anything you want for extra flavor – fruits, chocolate chips or even sprinkles. I like to add homemade jams or other preserved fruits. I avoid completely mixing it through so that I get swirls of white which make for an interesting change of texture and taste. Fill your cups with your yogurt mix and plant a small spoon or popsicle in the middle. If you hate crooked things and anything off-center (like me), you can use clothespins to keep it straight and centered. Just attach the clothespin to the spoon or popsicle stick and balance it on the edge of your container. If needed get a second pin to balance it out. It does look funny and odd, but hey, it’s effective.
Like with the lazy but healthier one, you can sweeten your plain yogurt with a bit of honey but this time, instead of dividing it into containers, spread the whole thing onto a freezer-safe tin that is lined with either silicone or baking paper. Once spread all over, add whatever you like for color and taste. Some love sweet sprinkles, but I think it would be a shame not to use all those summer fruits available out there. Chopped strawberries, blueberries, cherries or bananas make great additions. For some different texture that won’t exactly freeze you can add nuts as well – though I'd advise you to either crush them first or have them slivered. And of course, you can always add chocolate chips. Toss your creation into the freezer and a few hours later, just break it into chunks and enjoy!
Fruit, star of the show
So we have added fruits to our yogurt, but how about swapping this the other way around? There are many popular fruits to try this out with, but the most preferred by far is the banana. Chop your banana into three parts (or two if it is smaller), and insert a popsicle stick in it. Dunk the banana into the yogurt of your choice (flavored, naturally or store-bought, or even just plain old yogurt) and put those banana sticks onto a freezer-safe tin. Of course, you can put them directly into the freezer and enjoy them as is after being frozen, but to make it more fun, you can always add some extras, like chopped nuts or sprinkles on the outside.
I can almost hear you complain that you don't have popsicle sticks. Well, you don’t need them. This version might be a bit messier, but I prefer it: Slice the banana and submerge the slices in the yogurt of your choice. Fish the pieces out of the yogurt with a fork (fingers would remove too much of the yogurt), and place them on a dish, preferably with some baking paper spread onto it first. Toss into the freezer, and once it has hardened, you'll have some bite-sized pieces of joy!
However, do not limit yourself to only one type of fruit. If you prefer smaller fruits, try using blueberries. You just have to dunk the berries into yogurt and let them freeze individually on a tin. You can even fashion some toothpicks as utensils to eat them one by one (though beware of pointy bits). These are great for serving with other frozen dishes and give a nice pop of fruity flavor.
And as for my favorite berry, raspberries, I love the idea of filling those tiny cups of joy with some plain yogurt and freezing them for bite-sized frozen goodness. Imagine turning them upside down and serving it with some other dessert for the perfect and cool surprise on these sweltering days. Though knowing myself, I’d eat them up all by myself.
This one is a bit more ambitious, but I can’t help leave this one out. Ice cream sandwiches are a great invention, no doubt about it, so we’ll be making a lighter, yogurt-based version of it. As usual, you’ll need to flavor your yogurt to your liking with some honey for sweetness, and if you like, you can even add some vanilla extract to make it more ice-creamy. Aside from that, you can add fruits, and then you’ll need biscuits or sweetish crackers, though preferably not round ones for ease of dividing.
Get your tin or dish ready, and line it with some baking paper (this helps things from getting stuck to the container). Then lay down your biscuits or crackers. Remember in what order you do it so that you’ll get perfect sandwiches. Now spread the yogurt onto the biscuits and seal the deal by sandwiching them in the other half of the biscuits. Without lingering, put the dish into the freezer. Once they have hardened, cut along the lines of your biscuits, and divide them into many homemade sandwiches.
The beautiful thing about this is there are endless possibilities, so let your creativity flow! You can layer differently flavored (and colored) yogurts to make it really fancy. And once you have them in the right size, you can even dunk these sandwiches into molten chocolate and cover it with crushed nuts. It all really depends on your preferences and your imagination.