Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Easy Frozen Yogurt Bites and Thoughts on Mad Men Marketing from Cleo Coyle

Whether it’s hot or not outside, these pretty little Frozen Strawberry Shortcake Bites are stupidly easy to make. They’re also delicious to eat, low fat, and low calorie. Mine clocked in under 50 calories per treat.

You'll even have creative fun putting these babies together. Creative fun? Absolutely. The marketing mavens of Madison Avenue have made the yogurt section a culinary playground. To wit: have you seen these products lately?

You aren’t buying blueberry flavored yogurt; you’re buying blueberry pie. Cherry isn’t cherry—it’s cherry cobbler. Cinnamon flavored is cinnamon roll; pineapple is pineapple upside down cake. And with that "suggestion" in print comes a photo of the promised dessert. 
Cleo Coyle, fan of "dessert
yogurt," is author of t
Coffeehouse Mysteries.
To learn more, click here.

Can’t you just see a Madison Avenue Creative Director (e.g. Mad Men’s Don Draper and his long-suffering underling Peggy Olson) pitching the yogurt company on suggesting a high-fat dessert via print and photography while putting the same old diet yogurt inside?

Seriously. If you blindfolded a friend and fed her the "Apple Turnover" flavor, would she say, "Wow, how did you gel-ify an apple turnover?!" Or "um, it’s apple yogurt."

Am I being cynical? Maybe. But I’m also impressed. The approach works. At least, it has on me! I buy these yogurts all the time, telling myself I’m eating Key Lime Pie as I dive into what is essentially a light lime yogurt.

Bottom line: If you’re a fiction writer, you’ve got to give props to anything employing that much imagination. And today it’s your turn—because with this recipe, the “Mad Men yogurt ploy” becomes your foodie playground…

Blueberry Pie, Lemon Dream, Pineapple-Coconut Creme, Cinnamon-Apple Walnut, Peach-Pecan, Raspberry-White Chocolate, Banana-Peanut Butter Chip, Chocolate-Covered Cherry… The combinations are limited only by your imagination—and the yogurts in your grocery store. ~ Cleo

"Mad Men Inspired"

To download a PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here OR hit the "print friendly" button at the end of this post.

Makes 12 frozen bites

You will need:

* 1 mini muffin pan (with 12 cups)
* 12 mini paper liners


* 1 six-ounce container (or 1/2 heaping cup) of yogurt 
* 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk, such as Eagle Brand (low-fat is fine)
* Fruit of choice (e.g, strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, bananas, peaches)
* 12 Nilla wafers (I use reduced fat)

* Optional: Depending on your yogurt flavor, consider some optional fun flavor boosters, such as... Chopped dark chocolate, chopped nuts, lime or lemon zest, peanut butter chips, espresso powder, raisins, dried cranberries, M&Ms, shredded coconut, butterscotch chips, etc...

RECIPE NOTE: The amount of sweetened condensed milk in this recipe works out to exactly 1/4 of a typical 14-ounce can. If you'd rather use up the entire can at one time, simply quadruple this recipe: that is, use 4 six-ounce containers of yogurt and 48 Nilla wafers. You can certainly have fun with multiple flavors if you do this, dividing up the can of milk into four bowls and using four different flavors of yogurt.


Step 1 - Stir together the yogurt (of your choice) and the sweetened condensed milk. Slice up the fruit (or other suggested flavor boosters), add, and stir. (How much or how little fruit or other items you add is up to your own taste.) Set aside in refrigerator.

In the photo above, I used Yoplait Strawberry Shortcake yogurt,
stirred in the low-fat sweetened condensed milk,
and sliced in 3 fresh strawberries...

Step 2 - Prep cookie crust: The easiest "cookie crust" to use here is a Nilla wafer that's whittled down with a paring knife. (See my photo.)

NILLA NOTE: Now, I know there are mini-cheesecake recipes out there that say, "Just drop a Nilla wafer in your mini muffin cup and fill." Unfortunately, no Nilla wafer I've ever bought has fit properly into the bottom of any mini muffin pan I've ever had. My solution is to take a paring knife and whittle around the Nilla wafer to fit. The resulting cookie crumbs come in very handy, by the way, so be sure to save them for the final garnish on your frozen yogurt bites.

Step 3 -  Prep pan: Drop each whittled down Nilla wafer into a paper-lined mini-muffin cup. (Now they will fit!)

BTW: Another option for a "cookie crust" is your basic graham cracker crust: Combine 1 package graham crackers (that's about 9 "boards" or 1-2/3 cups crumbs) with 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Add in 1/3 cup melted butter. Press crumb mixture into bottom of paper lined muffin cups.

Step 4 - Assemble and freeze: Spoon the yogurt mixture into each cup. You can freeze as is or pretty up the cups by adding a slice of fruit on top or a sprinkle of chopped chocolate, nuts, whatever helps identify your yogurt flavor to you or your guests. Below, see more suggestions to finish...

I like to add a tiny shot of
whipped cream on top of each cup
before freezing.

(Time to use those Nilla wafer crumbs!)

Garnish each yogurt cup with a sprinkling of
cookie crumbs over the top. Then...

Place pan in freezer
for at least 2 hours and...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To view
The Coffeehouse Mystery series
click here or on the film strip.

To download more of my recipes
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by Mocha

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  1. I do think the apple turnover does the trick when craving apple pie. Definitely good marketing.

  2. Wow-those look amazing...and so easy. The only thing is now I have to go find a mini muffin pan!

  3. These are so adorable!! Perfect for a summer treat.

    ps I have a giveaway for 100 Postcards. Stop on by to enter!

  4. Looks delicious.

    Thanks for another great idea, as well as reading enjoyment.

  5. Sounds perfect for hot summer days! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Once again you have sparked my creativity and proven that you are a more patient woman than I!!! I don't have a mini-muffin tin any longer (years ago when Chef Connor was a wee lad he used it to make "safe homes" for his collection of worms...) however I do have several yummy yogurt flavors and a box of Nilla Wafers! So...in my impatience I smashed up the wafers (OK..I also added a few of those cookies that have the waffly looking tops and sugary frosting in the middle) and added a wee bit of melted butter to make a quite tasty crust!! Now I am just waiting for them to get frozen and frostylicious!! I am looking forward to the cherry ones...I splurged and bought cherries the other day!

    Thanks again for making dessert something to look forward tonight :-)


  7. Very cute, Cleo. Can't you see them at a kid's party?

    ~ Krista

  8. I love Mad Men! And I love anything made up of cute little bites. These look scrumptious!

  9. These litte bites look fabulous! Oh wow! I am going to have to give this one a go!

  10. They sell mini vanilla wafers. Think they would fit?

    1. Thanks to everyone for your comments!

      Anonymous - Alas, I have the *opposite* problem with the mini wafers (at least the ones sold in my local grocery here in Queens, NYC). They're too small!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter