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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blackberry Frozen Yogurt

A good thrift store can really make you feel rich. Like all the good things are within reach and you can have it all. It's not like regular window shopping where you can try on the cashmere sweater to feel its luxurious texture against your skin for a brief second before you remember that you don't have that much money in your wallet. Or your bank account even. I have never been turned off by second hand items (although I can completely understand how it might be scary wearing clothes that were once on some stranger). I guess it is because I come from a big family--my mom has five other siblings and my dad has four other siblings--so there are plenty of cousins. And plenty of cousins means plenty of "hand-me-downs" to go around. Sometimes I stop at thrift stores when I'm visiting new cities because it's a whole new treasure of goodies that I otherwise wouldn't have access to. When I visited Seattle, my friend, Alex, made sure I stopped by the Lifelong Aids Alliance Thrift Store where I found an amazing bead necklace for $2. Seriously, I couldn't be the only one who delights in grandma's old sweaters because there are lots of great blogs out there completely dedicated to thrift store adventures like this one and this one.

There are a few sections that I am quite keen on. Jewelry. Bags/Purses. Jackets. and Hats. Oh, and sometimes I check the dishware section, too, just in case there is an amazing casserole dish or a set of awesome serving platters. I almost never stop by the electronics aisle because that stuff is almost guaranteed to be missing a crucial part or broken. But, about a month ago, I was in the San Francisco Flagship Goodwill Store and I was just whizzing past the electronics shelf when I stumbled upon what may be The-Best-Thriftstore-Find-Ever. I found a Cuisinart Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker. Still in the box. Brand new. With a delightful sticker on it announcing that I could have this amazing machine for only $6.49. YES! Six dollars and forty-nine cents! I was shocked because I had recently seen this same item at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $49.99, which put a fast end to my desire to purchase one every time I read a recipe for basil ice cream or espresso ice cream or yuzu sorbet. I squeezed the box to my chest and practically ran up to the counter to pay for it before anyone else could notice what a bargain I was getting and try to stop me.

And, you wouldn't believe how easy it is--you essentially mix together your ingredients in a blender or food processor, stir in any goodies you like and pour it into the machine and press a button and about twenty minutes later it will have turned into a thick creamy ice cream similar in texture to that of soft serve. And then you can eat it on the spot or scoop it out into a container and freeze until solid. The typical ingredients are usually some combination of heavy cream, whole milk, sugar, but I have found through experimentation that fat-free half-and-half is a great replacement for whole milk or heavy cream when you want to cut out the fat and you can also use soymilk, fat-free milk, yogurt or even silken tofu! Oh, and trick is to always keep the actual tub part in the freezer so you can make ice cream on a moment's notice (because, let's face it--sometimes you need ice cream on a moment's notice).

I was really pleased with this Blackberry frozen yogurt. It is smooth and creamy with a nice berry, if only I can figure out how to make it sour like Pinkberry...I suppose I might try this recipe. The hardest part of the whole thing was straining out the blackberry seeds to achieve that smooth texture, but you could purchase 100% fruit purées to save yourself the trouble if you want. I just happened to have a large container of fresh ones so I figured I would try it out. To make the fruit puree from fresh berries, you put them in a blender with a tablespoon of water or lemon juice and blend until smooth. Then, pour the mixture into a fine-mesh sieve or strainer and strain out the seeds by using the back of a spoon. You can also scoop out the remaining seeds and pulp and stir in a little sugar, simple syrup or honey for a really yummy jam for biscuits, toast or pancakes!


* 2 cups plain low-fat yogurt (or fat-free if you want it to be fat-free froyo)
* 1 cup of blackberry fruit purée
* 1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half
* 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice (a good quality sugar)


* Blend all ingredients and pour into ice cream machine and process according to your manufacturer's instructions.

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