When it comes to high summer, ice cream reigns supreme. My husband and I are huge ice cream fiends, and I can’t resist whipping up a batch about once a week when the weather gets hot and I don’t want to turn on my oven. There is something infinitely more satisfying about making (and eating) your own ice cream!
But eating loads of ice cream isn’t the healthiest option, so I often opt for the ever-popular frozen yogurt. You are probably used to popping into a soft-serve FroYo shop to swirl some into a cup, but frozen yogurt is super easy to make at home. If you eat it right out of the ice cream maker, it is a similar consistency to soft-serve, but I prefer to freeze mine so it is firmer.
Since summer is rife with beautiful seasonal produce, I wanted to celebrate it by making a recipe that would incorporate some of my favorite summer ingredients. I didn’t need to look any further than the mint overrunning my backyard! Infusing yogurt with mint couldn’t be simpler: you just mix a quart of Stonyfield’s Whole Milk Plain yogurt with sugar, a pinch of salt, and some fresh mint leaves, and let it steep in the refrigerator for a few hours. Churn it in your ice cream maker, and you have the easiest homemade frozen yogurt ever!
The most common addition to mint ice cream is, of course, chocolate, but I wanted to keep things light and fresh for the frozen yogurt, so I opted for some seasonal ingredients that needed little to no preparation. A drizzle of local honey pairs perfectly with the tangy mint yogurt. Fresh raspberries are a lovely and healthy addition. But my personal favorite may be the watermelon syrup! I was inspired by a mint & watermelon lemonade I had last summer. I figured the tartness of the yogurt would be a good stand-in for the lemon, and I was right! The mint & watermelon combo is the epitome of summer, and it is really refreshing on a hot day.
If you aren’t a frozen yogurt fan or just want to add a little more richness to your dessert, I have a fantastic backyard mint & honey ice cream recipe for you. I like to top this one with finely chopped chocolate, rather than mixing it in, so that I can enjoy it unadorned if I want to.
Tangy Backyard Mint Frozen Yogurt
Yield: 1 quart
1 32-oz container Stonyfield Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
heavy pinch kosher salt
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, sugar, and salt until the sugar has dissolved. Crush the mint leaves lightly with your fingers to release their oils, then stir them into the yogurt mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Test the mixture before churning, and steep longer if you want a stronger mint flavor.
Churn the yogurt mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover, and chill in the freezer until firm, at least 4 hours. (If you prefer soft-serve consistency, eat it as soon as it is done churning in the ice cream maker.)
Yield: 1 cup
1 large seedless watermelon
½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Cut the watermelon in half, then in half again. Scoop out the flesh of one of the watermelon quarters and puree it in a blender until smooth. Strain the watermelon puree through a fine mesh sieve and into a large saucepan. There should be about 3 cups of watermelon liquid.
Add sugar and lemon juice to the pan with the watermelon liquid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and allow the syrup to cook down until it is thick enough to coat a spatula and not run off, stirring often. The liquid should reduce to about 1 cup when it is thick enough. Transfer syrup to a jar or container and refrigerate until fully chilled. Serve with Tangy Backyard Mint Frozen Yogurt.
Backyard Mint & Honey Ice Cream
Yield: 1 quart
3 cups (700 grams) Stonyfield Heavy Whipping Cream
1 cup (240 grams) Stonyfield Whole Milk
½ cup (170 grams) honey
1 cup (25 grams) coarsely chopped fresh mint
1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
2 pasteurized egg yolks
Finely chopped chocolate, for topping (optional)
In a large saucepan, whisk together heavy cream and milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the honey until it dissolves. Remove from heat.
Roll the chopped mint leaves lightly between your hands to release the oils before adding them to the cream mixture. Cut vanilla bean in half and add to cream mixture, leaving the seeds intact. (Alternatively, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and stir.) Cover the pot and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
Transfer to a large covered container. For a subtler mint flavor, strain out the mint and vanilla bean now. For stronger flavor, leave them in. Chill the ice cream base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When cold, remove the ice cream mixture from the refrigerator, straining out mint and vanilla bean if necessary, and whisk in egg yolks. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a covered container and freeze until firm.