Quiche made with yogurt
Yogurt may be swapped for cream in quiche, custard and bread pudding.
Fresh innovation

Yogurt’s best known functions are acting as a texturizer, enhancing flavor and boosting nutrients. It may be the characterizing ingredient in a recipe or a behind-the-scenes player. For example, focusing on the morning daypart, the U.S. Dairy Export Council developed a frozen matcha breakfast bar filled with a high-protein, dairy-rich frozen yogurt filling. Here yogurt is the star. It is a more subtle ingredient in a high-protein yogurt-infused waffle.

Dannon Foodservice, White Plains, NY.., recently launched Snack Hacks, a program with better-for-you snacking solutions. Recipes include citrus avocado parfait, which combines Greek nonfat yogurt with avocado and honey. This mixture is used to separate layers of chopped kale, citrus salad and jalapeños, with a final topping of sunflower seeds.

Creamy tomato bruschetta is a side-by-side portable snack. Crisps and crostini partner with a high-protein dip made of Greek nonfat yogurt combined with garlic, basil and parsley, and topped with diced tomatoes and a balsamic glaze.

Dannon avocado parfait
A citrus avocado parfait combines Greek nonfat yogurt with avocado and honey

For morning dashboard diners the company offers a number of overnight oats ideas. The oats are prepared by refrigerated overnight soaking in vanilla Greek nonfat yogurt.

“Swapping yogurt for traditional fat in any recipe makes a great call out,” said Andrea Todd, associate director-culinary research and development, CSSI Marketing + Culinary, Chicago, Dannon Foodservice’s culinary partner. “One of my favorite swaps is to use yogurt instead of cream in custard. I also replace heavy cream with Greek yogurt and skim milk in recipes such as quiche and bread pudding.”

In some applications, swapping comes with challenges.

“When adding yogurt to a recipe such as a creamy soup, it’s best to temper the yogurt by first adding a little of the hot soup to the yogurt and then slowly adding the tempered yogurt to the soup (removed from the heat source) to prevent breaking,” Ms. Todd said.

Matcha cream sandwich
The U.S. Dairy Export Council developed a frozen matcha breakfast bar filled with a high-protein, dairy-rich frozen yogurt filling.

There are many considerations when formulating with or selling products made using fresh yogurt. For starters, fresh products for food service and commissary-prepared foods for retail generally have a much shorter shelf life compared with industrial-manufactured products for retail.

“Another consideration is how the product is prepared,” said Susan Larson, associate researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and technical support for the US Dairy Export Council, Arlington, Va. “If the yogurt is heated during a bake or cook step, it will still have the protein and nutrients, but the beneficial bacteria will be killed.”

This happens when fresh yogurt is used in muffins or cooked in a sauce. Yogurt-based dips and dressings that are not heat treated, on the other hand, will have the live and active cultures from the yogurt.

Moisture must be managed, too, as yogurt, even strained yogurt, contains a considerable amount of water. This moisture may cause undesirable interactions with other ingredients. Barriers may need to be used or stabilizers added to bind the moisture.

“There may also be challenges with balancing pH,” Ms. Larson said. “If the product being created has a neutral pH, then the acidic yogurt could change the pH of the product, potentially causing the proteins to precipitate out of solution. To counteract this, use stabilizers and gums or limit the amount of the yogurt.”