Winter’s apples and oranges are languishing in my fruit bowl now that strawberries are back. We’ve been celebrating early-season berries with strawberry oatmeal shortcakes with maple vanilla sour cream. But lately I’m using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, which has broadened the concept from a dessert topping to an anytime indulgence. Even when the shortcake is gone, the maple vanilla Greek yogurt is a creamy dream with berries.
Switching to Greek yogurt from sour cream has a triple benefit: it’s healthier (made from milk vs cream; more protein, less milkfat), easier to digest (more active bacteria) and less processed (fewer additives).
Old-fashioned sour cream is cultured with lactic bacteria, similar to yogurt, and is naturally thicker than yogurt due to the high fat content of cream (18-20%). But as with today’s commercial yogurts, sour cream these days is artificially thickened with a number of additives, including guar gum, modified corn starch, gelatin and carrageenan. The sour flavor of sour cream, which should come from fermentation, is often augmented with a sour additive to shortcut the process.
Like regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is made from milk (0-4% milkfat), and its thickness comes from straining out whey, the watery part of the milk. A quart of milk will make a quart of regular yogurt, but after straining to make Greek yogurt, the amount left is much less. This is why real Greek yogurt is much more expensive to make than regular yogurt, though unscrupulous “Greek-style” yogurt makers may use artificial thickeners in unstrained yogurt and still charge more.
The home version of straining yogurt looks like this (though you’d want to put a bowl underneath the strainer).
Making yogurt was super easy in my Ohio dream kitchen, as my oven had superlow temperatures (100 degrees is great for yogurt). But in California I buy Fage at the store. I always marvel at its gorgeous thickness.
Pure maple syrup and vanilla extract. Love those one-ingredient flavorings.
Mix well, and your snow-white yogurt will be very slightly tinted, like a super-milky tea or coffee.
It’s sweet enough alone with berries. But you could definitely do with less syrup if you are eating with granola.
And if you really get motivated, the shortcake is pretty awesome too.
Hope you all had a great Easter! I’d didn’t get it together enough to post recipes beforehand. But along with strawberry shortcake, I did make my delectably slivered roasted cauliflower with green olives (it was the first thing to go), roasted asparagus and homemade applesauce to go with the ham. And of course salad with balsamic vinaigrette. My 9-year-old cracked the Easter eggs and made deviled eggs on her own, with me calling out directions but not watching. She was a little crestfallen to learn she cut the eggs the short way instead of the long way. But they tasted just right.
Maple Vanilla Greek Yogurt
From breakfast to dessert topping, this maple vanilla yogurt does it all. A healthier variation of the maple vanilla sour cream I used to top my strawberry oatmeal shortcakes, it’s killer with fresh berries.
- 1 cup strained Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (adjust based on your taste and the tartness of your yogurt)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add maple syrup and vanilla to yogurt. Stir well.
- Delicious on its own, served with fresh fruit or used as a dessert topping (eg over strawberry shortcake).
Here’s the link to a printable version.
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