Two frozen yogurts from one maker do two very different things, deliciously

by Terry B on September 16, 2009


In a classic ’60s TV commercial, a wife asks her husband, “What was wrong with the chicken?” He answers simply, “It’s not steak.”

For years, frozen yogurt has had a similar problem. It’s not ice cream. It doesn’t have the same creamy texture and mouthfeel. Or in trying to mask the lack of fatty richness, it goes overboard with sweetness.

But trying to get frozen yogurt right is a noble cause. Making a satisfying frozen treat with fewer calories, less fat and—more important—less saturated fat than ice cream has been the holy grail of many companies. Some have come close, making frozen yogurts that aren’t bad when you want something cold, creamy and sweet stuff_we_like_toowithout going crazy caloriewise and fatwise. But ultimately, at least for us, they still leave us craving ice cream. Finally, we think, Häagen-Dazs has gotten it right.

They make a total of seven frozen yogurt flavors, but the ones that work best for us are their dulce de leche and tart natural. Interestingly, they succeed in very different ways.

Dulce de leche is a milk-based sauce popular throughout Latin and South America. Sweetened milk is heated very slowly to create a flavor close to caramel. dulce-de-lecheIt is also the basis for many classic sweets and desserts. In describing its own version, Häagen-Dazs says, “luscious caramel low fat frozen yogurt is swirled through with thick ribbons of golden caramel.”

Perhaps it’s the rich caramel flavor that adds to the creaminess, and maybe their designers have gotten closer to mimicking full fat texture. Whatever the case, this is the first frozen yogurt that doesn’t make us miss ice cream. And it does it with just 2.5 grams of total fat and 2 grams of saturated fat per 1/2 cup serving. Compare that to 17 or so grams of total fat and 10 grams of saturated fat in their ice cream. Even their vaunted new line of five ice cream [with just five ingredients per flavor and “surprisingly less fat”] clocks in at 11 grams of total fat, 7 grams saturated fat.

Tart natural—not ice cream and proud of it

Häagen-Dazs’s tart natural frozen yogurt takes a completely different approach. You don’t miss ice cream because it’s not trying to be ice cream. Sure, it’s sold in the freezer case right next to the ice cream, but it has the refreshing brightness of, well, yogurt. Imagine tart, tangy plain Greek yogurt, only colder and more solid. And it’s even a little skinnier than the dulce de leche, with the same 2.5 grams of total fat per serving, but a mere 1 gram of saturated fat.

You may not want to gobble it down plain, but it makes a perfect blank canvas for desserts. For a recent dinner, we served it with blueberries and sliced fresh peaches. A perfect, light finish to the meal, satisfying and not overly sweet. I can see lots of fresh fruits working well with its tartness—various berries, nectarines, mango… I can also see sprinkling slivered almonds or chopped, salted pistachios over it and drizzling on just a little bit of honey.

So tell ice cream you need to take a little break and see some other frozen treats. Then pick up the frozen yogurts that won’t make you miss it.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

dani September 16, 2009 at 9:33 am

Thanks for the info (and comparisons.) I’m not a big ice cream or cake & icing fan – they are both usually so sweet. I have been craving peaches and blueberries together this summer. I think the Haagen Dazs tart natural frozen yogurt is probably a much better choice than the half and half I’ve been using.

Kim, Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet September 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I can’t eat ice cream – not sure why but I love frozen yogurt and have been eating that for years! I love it and I haven’t missed ice cream at all!

Terry B September 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Dani—If you’re not big on overly sweet desserts, I think the natural tart will be right up your alley. And certainly lower in fat than half and half! I think my brother and I used to frustrate my mother’s inner baker as kids. She would bake sheet cakes and ask us what kind of frosting we might like on them. We would invariably say, “None!” The cake itself had just enough sweetness for us without overdoing it.

Kim—And Häagen-Dazs says its frozen yogurts contain probiotics, the “gut-friendly” bacteria that improve digestive health. More and more frozen yogurts are including them for that reason.

Kim, Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet September 16, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Thanks for that tidbit Terry, could be the reason I can’t digest ice cream but all I know is I love it but it don’t love me back. Glad that I can have frozen yogurt as sort of a substitute. Don’t know what I’d do if I could have some sort of ice cream! I also love sherbet peach and mango is my new fav there! 😀

dani September 16, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Hi Terry!
Ah, your poor mother! If only one of you had liked frosting! My mother sold cakes that she baked and decorated, but I never wanted a birthday cake. Just the one time a year, she would make me donuts. (I do have a weakness for donuts and pie.)

Terry B September 18, 2009 at 3:32 am

Kim—Also try some acidophilus supplements; they provide the same friendly bacteria cultures.

Dani—Ha! Myself, I’m a huge fan of pumpkin pie. So that’s what I get instead of birthday cakes.

Lauren September 22, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I love the tart yogurt, and I had no idea that any commercial ice cream makers were making it! That’s great – thanks for the tip Terry!

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