Coconut Frozen Yogurt

I from my food column in Creative Loafing

Co-Co Fro-Yo, Baby

About once every few months, I get an undeniable compulsion to fill my lungs with thick, gritty smog, sit in a three-hour traffic bottleneck and stuff my face with an In-N-Out Double-Double burger. Fifteen years of living in Los Angeles and I just can’t let go! I hate it so much that I love it — like flossing my teeth, the aftertaste of Tequila or certain family members. L.A. is my drug, and I must return to get my fix.

A few months ago I flew back to the City of Angels and immediately noticed that every third person had a blissful, dreamy look while moving a plastic spoon rhythmically from Styrofoam cup to Botox’d lips. It was as if someone had staged a hostile takeover of caffeinated beverages and replaced them with … fro-yo. Huh?! I hated the stuff the first time it came around in the ’80s, so WTF, was frozen yogurt coming back? It was only last week that I saw a Geico commercial featuring Cabbage Patch Kids and a YouTube clip showing Philippine prisoners performing Michael Jackson’s Thriller as part of their rehabilitation program. But fro-yo? Like, gag me with a spoon. For the first time, I felt the umbilical cord of L.A. snag, as if the city was finally getting back at me for choosing to live in the Sunshine State.

Despite all this, I asked my brother to take me to a Pinkberry, the company that started the Frozen Yogurt 2.0 craze a couple of years ago. What was behind the phenomenon that had copycats such as Red Mango, Iceberry and Kiwiberry popping up like prairie weasels? What kind of frozen concoction could start a war so heated chilled that cameras were banned in the shops for fear of corporate espionage?

I had to find out.

A half-hour wait in line and one parking ticket later, I had a $7 cup-o’-fro-yo in hand. It was tart and tangy with a clean, crisp sensation — nothing at all like its airy, tasteless predecessor. Crackberry describes itself as “soft swirls of chilly bliss with a distinct pouty peak.” They forget to mention the free spoon-pipe you get with every purchase. The craze hasn’t wound its way down to us in Florida yet — it’s currently blanketing Chicago, Las Vegas and New York — but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered: Here’s a recipe that tastes just like Pinkberry’s famous frozen yogurt. Try it for yourself and you might just get smitten by fro-yo, all over again.

Recipe is adapted from Perfect Scoop <–which by the way is written by fellow food blogger David. If you’ve never visited his website before..then…. STOP. Collaborate and Listen. Go visit D’s blog for a brand new sensation… Ice Ice Fro-Yo Baby. Fro-Yo Baby…. sorry. I couldn’t help it. I’m still stuck on the 80’s thing….

Yum

Coconut Frozen Yogurt with Tropical Fruit

Servings:

Prep Time:

Cook Time:

Ingredients:

6 cups of low-fat/whole plain flavored yogurt to yield 3 cups, strained (see below) or 3 cups Greek-style yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp coconut extract
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
mixed tropical fruit (mango, kiwi, papaya, etc.)
Ice cream maker (remember to freeze your insert if you have one)

Directions:

1. Strain the yogurt: If you are using regular yogurt, you'll need to strain out the water. Line your mesh strainer with a double-layer of cheesecloth. Spoon the yogurt in, and let it sit propped over a deep bowl in the refrigerator for at least four hours. Discard the water. If you are using Greek-style yogurt (like Fage -- found at Whole Foods), you don't need to strain.

2. Mix and rest: Mix the strained yogurt with the sugar and coconut extract. Let it chill in the refrigerator for one hour to let the sugar dissolve.

3. Churn, baby, churn: Following instructions that came with your ice cream maker, churn until the mixture is the consistency of soft ice cream.

4. Toast coconut and dice fruit: While the fro-yo is churning, toast coconut. Take a dry skillet. Set on medium heat and add the coconut flakes. Stir constantly until flakes toast to a golden brown. Remove from heat immediately, and set aside. To serve, sprinkle the toasted coconut and spoon the diced tropical fruit on top of your frozen concoction.