Let’s get one thing out of the way. This frozen yogurt is not the soft, swirled, birthday cake-flavored frozen yogurt that you mound with mochi, leaving a mochi trail on your walk to the register.
This is yogurt, frozen—unchurned, unfazed, ready to exceed all your expectations.
A couple of summers ago, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen wondered why breakfast popsicles aren’t a thing and I still haven’t thought of a good answer except: They should be! She takes Greek yogurt, adds simple syrup, then swirls the mixture with jammy blackberries in popsicle molds. No machine necessary. Even the molds can be replaced with paper cups.
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That simple syrup, though? I couldn’t help but wonder if we could do without. But it’s complicated.
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Sugar isn’t just for sweetness—it’s also for consistency. When making a frozen, dairy-based dessert, there are a couple ways to disrupt the ice crystals to create a creamy texture. One is to churn, which incorporates air. Another is to add sugar, which, when dissolved, convinces some of the water molecules to resist freezing.
I tested two unsweetened frozen yogurt pops—nonfat and full-fat—to get a sense of the icy spectrum. The former was icy as heck. But the latter was surprisingly creamy—and tart enough for me to call breakfast, with no added sugar. Instead of disrupting the ice crystals, you'll lower the number of them by using strained, full-fat yogurt. Fat will make the frozen yogurt smoother and creamier, and less water means fewer ice crystals. (While sweetened yogurt will be creamier, the unsweetened version works, too!)
Let's make breakfast popsicles a thing.
Attack the lists below in the same way you would a froyo toppings bar—mixing and matching and taking none of it too seriously—for breakfast, dessert, or, you know, summer. I'll walk you through...
Add at least one of the variations: 1) a sweetener, 2) a mix-in, 3) a layer, or 4) a coat. (If you’re feeling crazy, add all of them!)
Mix the yogurt with a sweetener and/or mix-in. Drop a dollop of yogurt (a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop works well here) in the bottom of a small paper cup. Add a thin amount of your layer, followed by another dollop of yogurt. Repeat until you fill the cup. Freeze for about 30 minutes, until you can lodge a wooden popsicle stick in the center. Continue to freeze until completely frozen, at least 2 hours. When you’re ready to eat, snip the side of the cup with scissors and peel the paper away.
Pour the coat on a plate and gently roll around the yogurt pop. Eat! Preferably in the sunshine.
3/4 cup plain, whole-milk Greek yogurt will yield about 3 pops, depending your variation.
The Nearly Endless Choices
For every 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, choose...
1/4 cup simple syrup (click the recipe below for instructions on how to make and customize simple syrup)
Emma is a Food Writer & Recipe Developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 am, reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their cat, Butter.