With the heat wave baking most of the U.S. this week, I reached for a tried and true, but most importantly, icy cold summer berry dessert to end a couple meals. Frango is a sort of half-frozen, old-timey dessert made from yogurt and cream, traditionally flavored with maple syrup. It's a fantastic black cap raspberry recipe, if you can find some.
It's a great thing to make if you don't have an ice cream maker and are craving something cold, slightly sweet and refreshing. The traditional recipe only used maple syrup, but berries and cream is a combination that never tasted bad, so they're easy to work into the mix.
Wild black raspberries, or blackcaps (Rubus occidentalis) are peaking right now, and if there's a berry that screams summer more than them, I don't know it. They're one of my favorite berries, and probably the first berry that's really worth picking in quantity if I had to rank them.
Black raspberries also beautiful and delicious, much lower in acid than red raspberries. They have dark berry tones that, when perfectly ripe, are one of Nature's perfect creations.
But, alot of you around the country might not have access to black caps, so, just to be clear, you could use just about any berry you like here, which is why the title of the post and recipe reflects that. Raspberries and strawberries are great choices, but you can use a blend too--there's really no wrong berry here.
One thing to talk about as an option though, is seeds. Blackcaps have seeds, just like other rapsberries, and I know some people (children) don't care for them. With this recipe I like leaving the berries whole to give burst of flavor and color as you eat, but you could strain them out by pressing the yogurt mixture through a strainer.
Crystalization is natural and part of the recipe
A final note on the texture of the berry frango. Since this isn't churned, and is doesn't include a liaison of eggs, cornstarch, or something similar, it's going to crystalize a bit, which is natural, and the way it's traditionally eaten. It is not meant to be eaten straight from the freezer though, it must be tempered for a bit to soften before eating. I think it's about perfect when the edges start to melt, but the center is still firm.
Wild Berry Frango
- 1 cup thick Greek yogurt like Faye brand
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 heaping cup blackcap raspberries
- 4 oz honey
- Fresh lemon zest to taste
- Put the black raspberries or other berries in a small pan with half of the honey and simmer until they’ve given up their juice and it’s reduced by half, a few minutes.
- Pour the liquid into a bowl, cool, then mix in the yogurt.
- Chill the berry-yogurt completely.
- Season the cream with lemon zest to taste, along with the rest of the honey. Whip the cream to soft peaks, then gently fold in the yogurt mix, which should be very cold.
- Spoon the mixture into ramekins, it should be marbled and not completely even. Freeze the ramekins for at least 30 minutes- but don't freeze them solid. You can also just chill them in the fridge too.
- Garnish the top of each frango with a few berries, or a handful if you have them.
I envy you black raspberries. They are, indeed, the best fruit ever. There is nothing so good in Europe and I really miss them. The gems of my childhood fruit gathering memories involve black raspberries.
That said, I just made a blackberry frango with the first blackberries of the season here in the (very very dry) Paris region. It is excellent, but my husband is criticising the texture. He says the ice crystals are too big and he thinks that if I had added "enough" honey (I did not measure, and my husband has a serious sweet tooth and I have the opposite, so there is always some conflict over sugar content) the texture would be better and the ice crystals less of a problem.
I intend to repeat this experiment with bog bilberries when we are in Northern Jutland in a few weeks for our annual two weeks of vacation with nothing to do but forage, cook and wander the beaches and dunes of Denmark's north-western coast looking at birds and picking up tide-line corpses and sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca). We rent an old cottage near the northern tip of Denmark and about 500 meters from the beach that we have stayed in in mid-late August off and on over the last 20 years. I know the bilberry spots, the mushroom (Cantharellus, Boletus, Macrolepiota, Calvatia, Laccaria, Auricularia...) spots, the wild raspberry and blackberry spots, all the wild plum trees and the three wild or at least feral gooseberry bushes within walking or biking distance, which apple trees will have edible apples in August... yes I am looking forward to holidays. I think this year I will collect, clean and freeze the rosehips and bring them home to make jam here instead of making the jam there and transporting all that glass and sugar. It makes way more sense and I will not need to check any luggage... Let's just hope that we are still allowed to fly, that our plane is not canceled and that they let us into Denmark from France in a few weeks time...
Hey Jacqui, I don't know how I missed this. Sorry about that. The texture, believe it or not, is supposed to be like that. It's a kind of rustic farmhouse dessert. I have one member of the family who requests it every year and it's his favorite dessert. I just looked at the reviews though, and I don't think people get it-oh well! 🙂