Rosemary Honey Lemon Frozen Yogurt

By • June 24, 2013 • 16 Comments

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Author Notes: On a trip to Rome, I had tried the rosemary honey & lemon gelato at Gelateria del Teatro and was blown away by the flavor. The rosemary was an unexpected first note that mellowed out with the honey and lemon in a way that was completely and perfectly balanced. I think I actually stopped walking several times because I was just enjoying the gelato so much. It was so good we went back for a second round after returning from the Vatican!

I knew I had to try to recreate it when I got home, and I've based this recipe off of Jeni's frozen yogurt base. I love how the addition of the Greek yogurt adds a dimension of tanginess to the whole frozen concoction.
The Cooking of Joy

Food52 Review: WHO: The Cooking of Joy is a Taiwanese-American who is trying to cook just like her mom.
WHAT: A tart, herbaceous frozen dessert that tastes like Tuscany.
HOW: Steep your rosemary and lemon in boiled milk; combine it with a cornstarch slurry; mix in your cream cheese and yogurt; and spin it in your ice cream maker.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The balance between the yogurt, lemon, and rosemary is perfect here; it at once feels virtuous and indulgent. We can't wait to make it again. Note: don't be nervous while boiling the corn syrup, honey, milk and cream; once you add the cornstarch slurry, it will thicken up fantastically.
The Editors

Makes about 1 quart

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup honey, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Zest from half a lemon, peeled in wide strips using a vegetable peeler
  • 1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt (I used 2% low fat, but I think nonfat and regular would work fine)
  1. Mix about 3 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
  2. Combine the remaining milk, cream, honey, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add the rosemary and lemon zest, and let steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the rosemary and zest with a slotted spoon. Taste the mixture; if it's not sweet enough, add some more honey (I ended up adding about another tablespoon). Gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture and return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the yogurt and blend well.
  5. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
  6. Pour the frozen yogurt base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
  7. Pack the frozen yogurt into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
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Comments (16) Questions (0)

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4 months ago JoAnne Lingo

Thank you the suggestions. I know that adding a few tablespoons of vodka before churning doesn't alter the taste and keeps ice cream from turning rock hard in the freezer. The combination of rosemary and lemon in gelato (or yogurt) sounds heavenly!

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4 months ago lynne

Rum is also a nice addition with flavor to certain mixtures.

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4 months ago lynne

Arrowroot starch works exactly the same, I use it all the time in lieu of corn starch. The point of the corn syrup in this formula (which is essentially Jeni's homemade ice cream recipe) is less for sweetening than for helping the ice cream stay scoopable from the freezer. Same goes for the cream cheese. I think you would be fine just omitting it or replacing with honey. You can make an excellent gelato base with 2 c whole milk, 3/4 c sugar, 2 TB arrowroot starch mixed with some of the milk for a slurry. Heat to custard stage, add rosemary and whatever extracts you like, let it cool in a bowl over an icewater bath, then add the heavy cream and chill in fridge until ready to churn. I cannot see why anyone would want to dose their homemade ice cream with BPA from putting hot liquid in a plastic bag.

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4 months ago The Cooking of Joy

That's a good point about the BPA! I actually use an ice cream maker with its own condenser so I don't need to chill the ice cream base before churning, but I decided to follow the script for Jeni's frozen yogurt base since most people don't have that option. I think using the Ziploc bag was a fast way for her to chill the base....

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4 months ago lynne

yeah, I get the intention, but if you leave the heavy cream cold and add to the custard mix in a stainless bowl over an ice bath, you can chill it just as fast without the BPA. I also have a condenser on my machine, but I still have to put a chilled mix in there or it takes nearly an hour.

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4 months ago JoAnne Lingo

Is the cornstarch absolutely necessary, could it be replaced with another thickener? I'm on a totally corn free diet as is my daughter and granddaughter. I'm assuming that the corn syrup could be replaced with a bit more honey.

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4 months ago The Cooking of Joy

I'd love to hear the results if you do try to replace the corn syrup with more honey!

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4 months ago Peggy Horne

Arrowroot is a good thickener. Get the substitution amount off google.

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4 months ago lynne

There is an excellent recipe for frozen yogurt in patricia wells' vegetables at the center cookbook. All you do is whip egg whites to stiff peaks, add sugar or honey, fold together with sheeps milk or other whole milk yogurt, and add an extract such as lemon, orange blossom, or vanilla, and chill immediately in your ice cream maker. Very creamy and delicious.

I find the cream cheese trick from jeni's makes for a greasy mouth feel to gelato. Also, the best trick is to make your custard of milk, starch and sugar, then add the heavy cream and extracts only after the custard has cooled in to where steam no longer rises from it. It makes a huge difference in the texture.

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9 months ago Chris

Hi, I would love to try this recipe but I don't have an ice cream maker. When you get to the 'frozen cannister' stage, is it possible to just beat it instead with a whisk? Thanks - Chris( UK)

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9 months ago The Cooking of Joy

I've never tried to do that, and my guess would be that just beating it wouldn't work. However, if you do try it, and it works, please let us know!

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10 months ago Melinda Yang

Just to ask, for the direction:
Pour the frozen yogurt base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Is the frozen canister just a regular ice cream maker with paddle, or is it something different? I don't want to accidentally break a paddle if it's something that spins but doesn't mix the mixture with anything.

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10 months ago The Cooking of Joy

Yes, just a regular ice cream maker with a paddle. Basically, just churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

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10 months ago Melinda Yang

Thanks! Just tried it this evening, and it came out fantastic!

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10 months ago The Cooking of Joy

You're welcome!

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about 1 year ago kristen lima

we have an amazing new Portuguese market nearby where I just purchased delish rosemary honey.