Strawberry Fro-Yo Throwdown

I’ve perused a good share of ice cream cookbooks in my time. I even own a couple. There are some I like more than others, but there’s one single book I continually come back to time and time again. And I know I’m not alone in thinking this book is one of the top choices for ice cream making. I’ve used The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz for several recipes so far (Vanilla Bean, Peanut Butter, Cheesecake, "Hot" Chocolate), and all of them have come out great. I didn’t think I’d really find anything better out there—that is, until the owner of my absolute favorite ice cream shop, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, came out with her very own cookbook. Watch out David Lebovitz. You may have just been bumped from the top.

For those of you who aren’t from around the Central Ohio area, Jeni’s is a local favorite. Voted time and time again by local magazines and newspapers as the best ice cream in town (as well as ranking up there in the country by some national publications too!), everyone knows Jeni’s is the place to go. So I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was to know that with a new cookbook, I’d be able to make my favorite Jeni’s ice creams at home whenever I wanted! But how would it stack up to my current favorite ice cream bible? I’d just have to my own little ice cream throwdown to find out!

There weren’t many recipes that were exactly the same in both books, so I decided to adapt a recipe slightly from each book to create the same flavor. The beauty of the Jeni’s book is that the overwhelming majority of the recipes are made the exact same way every time, allowing for easy adaptation of flavors. I used the Frozen Yogurt base to create a Fro-Yo version of the Roasted Strawberries and Buttermilk recipe (minus the buttermilk) to pair up against DL’s Strawberry Frozen Yogurt, which I used roasted strawberries in as well. So how’d each contender in the throwdown fair?

First challenge: Preparation. The clear winner in this challenge is Lebovitz. It’s another “throw it all in a blender” simple kind of recipe. It’s very quick to put together, and doesn’t require a lot of prepwork. The most work that went into it was roasting the strawberries in the oven, which isn’t even in the original recipe. The Jeni’s recipe? It requires some planning ahead because you have to drain the yogurt overnight to get rid of a lot of the liquid. And it seems to use a lot of dishes. With DL, I used maybe 4 or 5 bowls and utensils total. Jeni’s left me with an entire sink full.

Next: Flavor. This one is honestly a toss-up. DL has a much bolder strawberry flavor than Jeni’s, but Jeni’s holds her own using subtlety as her strength. The strawberry flavor might be light, but it’s balanced perfectly with the slight tang of the combination of yogurt and cream cheese, Jeni’s secret ingredient. I really can’t call a clear winner in this round.

Finally: Texture. Hands down, Jeni’s got this one. It’s not even a contest between the two. While it adds to the prepwork of the recipe, draining the yogurt is actually a very important step. More liquid means more ice. Lebovitz’s recipe ends up a very icy, almost grainy texture, while Jeni’s is so smooth and creamy, it’s almost like silk on your tongue.

The big winner of the throwdown? I gotta give it to Jeni’s. There’s a reason why she has 8 shops in central Ohio, 1 in northern Ohio, has recently opened 2 in Nashville, and sells in retail stores in NYC. This stuff is the real deal. Easy prep is great and all, but no one cares how easy or hard it is to put together if the finished product isn’t blow-your-mind spectacular. And most of Jeni’s stuff is. But don’t worry The Perfect Scoop. You’ve still got a place on my shelf. I just might not be pulling you out quite as often as I was.

Tomorrow we're bringing Ice Cream week to a close with one of my favorite flavors! And maybe a little something special for you too. Be sure to stop by!

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Makes about 1 quart

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced ½-inch thick
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Toss strawberries with sugar in a medium bowl, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
2. Place strawberries and their liquid, yogurt, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. If desired, press mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.
3. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour, then freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.

Roasted Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer
Makes about 1 quart

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced ½-inch thick
1 cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups plain low-fat yogurt
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup light corn syrup

1. Prepare yogurt in advance: Place a fine mesh strainer lined with two layers of cheesecloth over a large bowl. Pour 3 cups yogurt into the lined strainer, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours, or overnight, to drain. Discard the liquid and measure out 1 ¼ cups of strained yogurt (should be just about all of it); set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375F. Combine strawberries with 1/3 cup sugar in a glass baking dish, stirring gently to mix well. Roast in oven for 8 minutes, or just until soft. Let cool slightly. Once cooled, Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor with lemon juice until smooth. Measure out ½ cup of puree, reserving the rest for another use.
3. Fill a large bowl with ice water to create an ice bath; set aside.
4. Mix about 3 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to create a slurry; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth. (I had better luck using a spatula and smashing it up against the side of the bowl to remove any lumps.)
5. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine remaining milk, heavy cream, 2/3 cup sugar, and corn syrup, bring to a rolling boil, and boil for 4 minutes Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch mixture. Return mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cool, stirring until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
6. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into cream cheese until smooth Add the 1 ¼ cups strained yogurt and ½ cup strawberry puree and blend well.
7. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in ice bath to chill. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
8. Freeze mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
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Rachel @ Baked by Rachel said...

fun idea to try and compare them both! I still want to pick up Jenni's book... will have to check BN because last time I was at *gasp* the other place they only had it online! Oh and creamy and smooth is totally better anyday over grainy.

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