Yogurt – it's not just for breakfast.
If you’re looking for ways to make amazing desserts while going easy on the cream and sugar, check out these fantastic natural yogurt-based dishes: easy to make, lighter on calories and totally yummy. One big tub of natural yogurt and a few extras like fruit and honey, and you have the makings of nice things for the whole week.
Yogurt and fruit... with a twist
We could probably fill this list with different ways of combining natural yogurt and different kinds of chopped fruit. Bananas, berries, cherries, pretty much anything goes, whether chopped or whole or even reduced to a sweet and tangy compote. Add nuts or granola for a bit of crunch, and honey to sweeten the deal.
But if you’re looking for something a little more high-end and a little less breakfasty, try natural yogurt with caramelised fruit (figs or pears work well) and flavoured honey. You can buy flavoured honeys, or you can try quickly infusing your own – easier as you can experiment with different ideas without having to buy often very expensive jars, though you may compromise on strength of flavour. Either way, high-quality honey is a must.
Gently heat a few tablespoons of honey with a fragrant herb like rosemary or lavender for a minute or two, add the sliced/halved fruit and cook for about two minutes until soft, then turn for another two. Add to the yogurt, top with the remaining honey and some toasted nuts for crunch. A sprinkle of salt will give a big flavour burst to finish.
This traditional Indian drink makes a great alternative dessert. Though it’s traditionally a savoury drink, with salt and spices, the sweet version is sweet and cold, a little like a milkshake. Just throw about 100ml yogurt, about half that of milk, the pulp from a fresh mango and sugar to taste in a blender until smooth and refrigerate (or add ice-cubes if serving immediately).
Also gorgeous if you pull inspiration from its origins and add some gentle Indian spices like cardamom or cinnamon, or sweeten with honey or vanilla.
Ah, brownie-in-a-mug, the king of quick and easy desserts. Raised to true greatness by the ability to be made skinny – and you can add flavourings like orange, hazelnut, cinnamon, peanut butter to elevate it further.
2tb flour, 2tb sugar, 2tb unsweetened cocoa, little bit of baking powder, squeeze of orange juice (purely discretionary: could be vanilla, or hazelnut), a few tbsp of natural yogurt. Mix together in a bowl/mug and zap in the microwave for about two minutes, or more if you prefer it firmer. Could not be easier.
Yogurt is a highly underrated pancake topping, and sweet pancakes are a highly underrated dessert. Have your batter ready before the meal, then you’re talking just minutes to whip up something light, tasty and a guaranteed hit.
Try a blueberry-and-yogurt topping with whole blueberries, and for extra fanciness, add coconut flour, lemon and vanilla to the pancake batter itself.
Natural yogurt ice lollies
Something in between an ice cream and ice lolly, natural yogurt makes for fantastic creamy treats, while any kind of fruit will bring tanginess and sweetness.
There’s lots of space for experimentation with berries, bananas, mangoes, kiwis, plums, even rhubarb (though with some harder, or under-ripe fruits you might find it better to cook them down with a little water and sugar, and maybe some warming spices for a more wintery version). Top with granola for extra depth of flavour. Or if sweet isn’t your thing, use flavourings like matcha tea.
All you need are molds with sticks, or just make little bite-size blocks with your ice-cube tray. Macerate the chopped fruit by mixing with sugar and leaving to stand for about 20 minutes. Whizz it up in a food processor/blender, then stir in the yogurt. Pour into holds and freeze. Easy.
Yogurt cake is a really simple and light cake mixture that can be eaten by itself, or used as the base of lots of classic cakes with some simple additions – coffee cakes, lemon cakes, carrot cake, vanilla cakes, almond, berries. And with this recipe, you only need one bowl.
Whisk a cup of natural yogurt together with a third of a cup of vegetable oil and a cup of sugar, then add two eggs, whisking in one at a time. Sift in one and two-thirds cups of flour, one and a half tsp baking power and a half tsp of baking soda with a pinch of salt and stir. Pout into a greased/lined cake pan and bake in a preheated 170º oven for 35-40 minutes.
Yogurt panna cotta
The wibbly panna cotta is the bane of MasterChef contestants, but is surprisingly really achievable at home. Yogurt panna cotta has a beautiful strong flavour, which again makes it great for pairing with sweet sauces and toppings.
- Mix one and a half cups of milk with a half tsp of vanilla extract and unflavoured gelatin (these usually come in discrete servings, about 5-7g) until the gelatine dissolves
- In a separate saucepan, mix one cup of heavy cream and about a quarter-cup icing sugar over a medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Remove from heat and stir in gelatine mixture until melted
- Transfer to a large bowl and mix in two cups of yogurt, then pour into ramekins, molds or your choice of serving dish and chill until set (better if you have a few hours, uninterrupted by the Masterchef cameramen)