Strawberry Ban-Oreo Frozen Yogurt...'nough said!

Strawberry. Banana. Oreo. Frozen. Yogurt.

I had you at hello, didn’t I? I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off National Ice Cream Month (okay, maybe strawberry banana oreo ice cream would have been more appropriate….). The idea came to me in a much simpler form, and by came to me, I really mean that I stole it from one of the most endearing local ice cream parlors I’ve ever been to. I hope that doesn’t make me an evil person. I was up in the Pocono Mountains on a vacation with L before my summer class started, and we took a ride over to Coutt’s Blueberry Farm Market, a small gift-and-treats store owned by the same family that owns a nearby blueberry farm. The store boasts adorable keepsakes, a standard but intriguing lunch menu, and – my personal favorite – homemade ice cream and baked goods. They have standard flavors, but their crazier ones are to die for – I’m talking blueberry cheesecake, cinnamon bun, and Buckhorn – an “everything but the kitchen sink” indulgence so named for the local high school’s mascot. The day L and I went, they also had a flavor called Banana-Oreo, and after sampling a few flavors (I had to make sure I chose the right one!), I went with it. I thought of it as a kooky combination, but one that seemed unmistakably natural upon taking the first bite. It was sweet and subdued from the banana, with chunks of oreo intensity scattered throughout to keep you on your toes. That night when we sat down to eat our ice cream for dessert, I knew that I had to try my hand at it. Ban-Oreo ice cream was in Floptimism’s future.

Then, one day later in the summer, I was food shopping at my local Giant. I was on a mission – list in hand, full of fresh produce, milk, and eggs. The cookie aisle was not a stop on this particular day’s train. The Grocery Gods must have known this, for fate intervened and placed a cunning, alluring display of Oreos right next to the milk case…and not just any Oreos, either, but limited-edition, short-time-only, Berry Burst Ice Cream Oreos. I couldn’t help but be drawn to them! I picked them up, turned them over, examined the ingredients, and then stood with them in my hands for several more beats. I didn’t need them. They weren’t on my list. But limited edition Oreos! Still, my sheer iron will turned them away, and I marched out of the store proudly sans cookies.

I also proceeded to think about those darn specialty Oreos incessantly for next few days. Days turned into weeks, and I knew I needed to try them. I looked up reviews online, and finally tracked them down with L. We sampled them and were pleasantly surprised. We’re both relative purists when it comes to Oreos – I personally have only ever strayed as far as double stuffed and golden, but both times have come crawling back to the glory of the original. The others weren’t bad – just not as downright addicting. L has tried a few more varieties, but he too always comes back to the original. Still, they were good! Not original good, but I have no regrets in buying them. The filling is slightly thicker than normal, yet the ratio seems to be spot on between the decadent chocolate and the sweetness of the berry filling, which is reminiscent of a slightly oversugared strawberries-and-cream concoction. As my mom said upon sampling them, you can’t devour a whole sleeve of these guys in the blink of an eye like you can with the originals (maybe this is a blessing in disguise, but the glutton in me regrets this fact) – two or three is plenty satisfying – but they’re good. And we left it at that.

Then, it came time for Ban-Oreo ice cream. I looked up some recipes and considered my options. I decided to use a banana frozen yogurt recipe from Diethood as my starting base, and made changes to fit my vision more closely. I went to make my shopping list, but as I was writing down Oreos, I stopped myself. Why buy a pack of regular Oreos, when I have a nearly full pack of Berry Ice Cream oreos sitting on my kitchen counter? I mean, strawberry-banana is a killer combination! Strawberry-chocolate is, too, and I already know from Coutt’s that Banana-Oreo works fantastically. It had to work!

And that, my friends, is how the Strawberry Ban-Oreo Frozen Yogurt was born. It came together like a charm, a very fast charm, and churned up more beautifully than any other frozen treat I’ve made to date. It looked beautiful, with flecks of pink from the Oreos peppering the otherwise off-white base and chunks of deep chocolate Oreo cookies. It tasted creamy and tangy, not at all too sweet but just enough, and the banana tasted like real bananas, not some artificial banana flavoring. Next time, I would add a great deal more banana liqueur for two purposes – (1) to up the banana flavor just a little bit more, and (2) to help keep the frozen yogurt from freezing up so solidly in the freezer. As it stands, it really needs to thaw for a long time before being scoopable. I’d also consider making it with a combination of yogurt and milk so that it maintained its thick creaminess, but the liquid of the milk would help with this freezing issue. I would also crush a few more Oreos to allow the chocolate flavor to be a bit more pervasive. But really, all of these changes are me being nit-picky, because this recipe is a gem, and I am incredibly proud of how well it turned out. L even commented that it looked like an ice cream you’d buy at a store! I’m taking some in to work tomorrow to celebrate the holiday weekend right (and with it being July 1st, it only seems appropriate), so I hope my coworkers enjoy it as much as my mom, L and I have been.

Strawberry Ban-Oreo Frozen Yogurt
Yield: approximately 1.5 liters (aka plenty!)

The Ingredients
3 bananas
2 cups non-fat, plain greek yogurt
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons banana liqueur*
10-15 berry burst ice cream oreos, divided

The Method
Either slice the ripe bananas and place in the freezer for at least two hours, or take 3 already-frozen bananas (what I keep on hand) and peel and chunk them without thawing. Remove and reserve the filling from 5 of the oreos. Crush a handful of the leftover cookie halves (the ones without the filling in them), and quarter the remaining oreos; set aside.

Add the slices or chunks of frozen banana to a food processor along with the yogurt, sugar, reserved oreo fillngs, and liqueur. Process until completely smooth, then transfer to an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions.**

Transfer half of the ice cream from the machine to a freezer-safe container and mix in half of the oreo quarters and crumbs. Top with the remaining ice cream and oreo pieces, and stir to incorporate. Enjoy immediately as semi-soft serve or freeze for about an hour to firm up a little more.

*This is adjusted based on what I mentioned above – I used 1 tablespoon in mine, but think that 3-4 would be more effective. Going above 4 runs the risk of a runny frozen yogurt, as the alcohol would be too high to permit proper freezing at all, but below 4 should be safe. I say this as though I am a boozy ice cream connoisseur. Play it safe with 2 if you don’t trust me.
**My machine said that the ice cream should churn for 20-30 minutes, but after 5 mine was already thick and glorious. I let it run for a total of 7-8 just to be certain, and decided that when it was so thick that the machine couldn’t even churn it anymore, I should stop. So, keep an eye on it and use your judgment.

Update: This recipe is featured in a post on Around the Plate!

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