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updated: 7/23/2013 11:48 AM

Baking secrets: Greek yogurt, ice cream combine for cool, summery pie

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  • Greek yogurt tames the sugar in Annie Overboe's strawberry ice cream pie.

      Greek yogurt tames the sugar in Annie Overboe's strawberry ice cream pie.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer


It's July, the heat's on and when asked to make dessert for a party I pull an ice cream pie from my summertime recipe collection.

I do make the occasional exception for birthday cakes, but as a rule my oven takes a siesta in July and August. This baking vacation used to limit my dessert possibilities, that is, until premium ice creams hit the market.

Growing up, enjoying a great frozen dessert meant pulling out grandma's hand-cranked ice cream maker. Everyone fought to be first in the crank line, as churning became tougher when the cream mixture thickened and started freezing.

Today premium ice creams succeed where most commercial desserts fail. Unlike store bought cakes, cookies and other sweet treats, premium ice cream boasts top-of-the-line ingredients. Companies like Ben & Jerry's built their culinary reputations upon offering a treat as good (or do I dare say, possibly better) than grandma churned in her kitchen.

A great start, however it's the imaginative partnering of ingredients and catchy names that elevate premium ice creams to cult status. Admittedly, these irresistible treats often come with a hefty price. For this baker, serving a summertime dessert that meets my taste bud standards is priceless.

Yet with the exception of the dark chocolate varieties, all ice creams hit my taste buds as too sweet. And, yes, this includes those premium ice cream lines. So when I create ice cream pies for parties, I set my preferences aside and focus the flavor design upon my guests' tastes.

My upcoming 25th wedding anniversary inspired me to fashion a special ice cream pie with my taste buds in mind. Aside from chocolate, strawberries top my list of preferred dessert flavors. Maybe I could craft a marriage of flavors as successful as my own with Michael.

I found that many pints of premium strawberry ice cream also included distracting ingredients, such as cheesecake chunks. These types of add-ins tend to ratchet up the sugar content of already sweet ice creams.

While sampling a few frozen yogurts, inspiration hit: Would plain yogurt blend well with frozen strawberry ice cream?

Already a big fan of Greek yogurt, this plain version boasts no added sugar but loads of smooth and creamy texture. I figured Greek yogurt would cut the sweetness without compromising the signature consistency and headed into the kitchen to put this idea to the test.

After a few batches, I liked the version with 1 cups of low-fat (2 percent) Greek yogurt stirred into strawberry ice cream while everyone else voted for less yogurt and more strawberry ice cream. Breyer's Natural Strawberry Ice cream met my flavor criteria and, as a bonus, included real fruit bits. As part of the compromise for dialing back the yogurt, I stirred in fresh chopped strawberries to boost fruit flavors.

I never thought it possible to create an ice cream pie -- without chocolate -- that would still please my taste buds. The less sweet taste of success is priceless.

• Annie Overboe, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, lives in Villa Park. Write her at

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