I remember one time, when I was little, begging my mom for whipped strawberry yogurt in the supermarket. I can’t remember the year or the brand—early 2000s? Yoplait Whips?—but I remember wanting it—please, please—because I saw a commercial and it looked like yogurt meets mousse meets cloud meets heaven. My mom obliged. I suspect because she already knew: one spoonful and I’d hate it and never ask again, which, of course, is exactly what happened.
I just don’t like fruity yogurt. A bummer, since fruit is the go-to flavor in the U.S. Out of Yoplait’s current 20 flavors for original yogurt (as opposed to Whips or Light), 18 are fruity. And then there’s fruit on the bottom or the side. It’s also a bummer because I love fruit and I love yogurt. But I don’t like all the added sugar and flavorings and colorings.
The solution is simple, of course: Just buy plain yogurt and add fresh fruit, or fruit purée, or jam, either on top or bottom, alongside or swirled in. Easy. Our co-founder Merrill Stubbs wrote about making fruit yogurt (from scratch!) for her daughter, Clara, in 2012. And a few years later, Caroline Lange wrote about vegetable yogurts and how to gussy ’em up. Carrot yogurt? Give it here. Parsnip yogurt? Why not!
Then I stumbled upon another type of yogurt. It’s flavored, but not with produce. And, chances are, you’ve been sprinkling this ingredient on your yogurt for years: nuts. Missy Robbins writes all about this in her book Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner...Life: “Nut yogurts are not something we often see in the States and it was revelatory to me. Nutty, earthy, tangy, and slightly sweet.” She tried the flavor in Italy—a commercial product that was actually made in Germany. And largely unavailable across the sea. “When I came home I looked high and low for it and couldn’t find it anywhere, so I came up with this recreation.”
Robbins combines 1 quart Greek yogurt with 2 cups toasted, skinned hazelnuts, plus some hazelnut oil and honey. Buzz all this in a blender until smooth, then done! “If you’re not using it all right away,” she writes, “store the yogurt in a tightly sealed container in the fridge to enjoy all week.” We can do that.
At her Brooklyn restaurant, she does another iteration. Different nut, totally different context: “I do a savory walnut one that has been on the menu with scallops since day one at Lilia,” she wrote me. “It’s got lemon, garlic and anchovies in it as well.” (Adds to to-do list.)
I riffed on the recipe to use pecans instead of hazelnuts, maple syrup instead of honey. But there are also cashews, walnuts, and pistachios, sorghum, molasses, and brown sugar. I lowered the amount of sweetener, to taste—you could lower it again, lose it altogether, or increase it. You tell me. You are the ruler of your nut yogurt! I dropped the hazelnut oil—that’s not a pantry staple for me and it felt unnecessary—but if you have any nut oil on hand, a tablespoon or two will bump up the flavor and richness.
What you don’t want to change is the Greek yogurt. Adding nuts significantly thins the yogurt. If you start with unstrained, it will turn out extra runny. You also don’t want to use a food processor instead of a blender. I tried this and the machine’s wider surface area left the yogurt gritty and nubby. Not the worst thing in the world, but the blender will give you a smoother, silkier result. And while I love whole-milk yogurt for a lot of—even most!—recipes, the nuts here contribute enough fatty richness. Using 0% or 2% yields the right balance, to me, but see which you like best.
Robbins tops her yogurt with dried figs and a few shakes of cocoa powder. We topped our rendition with fresh figs and blackberries and blueberries and strawberries and pomegranate seeds because, well, fruit is really good with yogurt, especially whipped yogurt. Who knew?
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt, low-fat or non-fat (440 grams)
- 1 cup chopped pecans, deeply toasted and totally cooled (117 grams)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 pinch kosher salt
What are your favorite yogurt mix-ins and add-ons? Let us know in the comments below!