I'm one of those people who always has a snack tucked away in my bag, a worst-case survival tactic for when the hours between meals stretch just a little too long. I love me some yogurt-covered snacks: raisins, cranberries, pretzels, all of them. It's taken me a while to work out how I might make these favorite snacks at home, but my golly, I think I've finally got it.
I should tell you straight up that this yogurt coating...is really more sugar than yogurt. It's true. And it's also true for commercially-made yogurt snacks. But since those snacks are also made with oils, emulsifiers, and stabilizers, I feel that homemade yogurt coating is at least a step in the right direction.
We're essentially making a thick glaze with powdered sugar and yogurt, just like the simple glaze we use on quick breads and cookies -- only for this snack, we'll make sure it sets into a thick coating with a bit of gelatin.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from one in Lara Ferroni's recent book Real Snacks. Her method uses agar powder, something that I don't usually keep in my pantry, so I decided to try a gelatin version. Happily, it worked! I also added some honey to the yogurt coating for sweetness and gave the cranberries a double dip to make the coating extra thick.
The method is simple, but waiting for the yogurt-coating to dry can be tedious. I suggest making this on a weekend afternoon when you'll be around the house, but you could also space it out over a few days. The prepared yogurt coating will keep, covered and refrigerated, for a few days, and just needs to be re-warmed before using it to give the cranberries their second coating.
At least the hassle is worth it! The yogurt-covered cranberries themselves will keep for several weeks, and they make an easy, tasty snack any time of day.
Yogurt coating is adapted from Real Snacks by Lara Ferroni; makes about 3 cups
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon gelatin
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting cranberries
8 ounces (about 3 cups) dried cranberries
Combine the water and vanilla in a small dish or ramekin. Sprinkle the gelatin over top and whisk with a fork until the gelatin is evenly distributed in the liquid. Set aside for about 5 minutes or until needed. It will set into a thick paste.
In another small dish or ramekin, whisk together the yogurt, honey, and salt. Microwave on HIGH in 5 second bursts, stirring in between each burst, until the yogurt is liquidy and very warm to the touch. Don't let it start to boil or the yogurt will curdle.
Whisk the gelatin into the warm yogurt mixture. Whisk until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Scrape the yogurt mixture into a small mixing bowl. Pour the powdered sugar on top. Whisk gently until the yogurt and powdered sugar combine into a thick, but pourable, frosting (see image above).
In a separate bowl, toss the cranberries with a tablespoon of powdered sugar until they are completely dusted. Pour about half of the yogurt coating over the cranberries. Stir until the cranberries are completely coated and you can see no more dry powdered sugar.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper or silpat. Drop the coated cranberries in clumps onto the baking sheet, separating them as much as you like with your fingers. They will be very sticky. Let the cranberries sit, uncovered, until dry to the touch, about 30-45 minutes.
Transfer the cranberries back into a mixing bowl and toss with the remaining yogurt coating to give them a second, thicker coat. Drop them back onto the lined baking sheet. When the tops are dry to the touch, move the cranberries around to make sure the undersides also have a chance to dry. (If you have a cooling rack with a small enough grating, you can scatter the cranberries on top for quicker and more even drying.) In total, the cranberries will take at least 6 hours or overnight to dry.
Store yogurt-covered cranberries in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for several weeks.
- Leftover Yogurt Coating: Leftover coating should be kept covered and refrigerated. It will set into a gel in the fridge. Before using, warm it in 10 second bursts in the microwave until liquidy.
- Non-Gelatin Option: If you'd prefer not to use gelatin, you can follow Lara Ferroni's recipe and use 1/4 teaspoon of agar powder.
- Yogurt Coating Other Foods: Try this yogurt coating with any other dried fruit. I particularly like yogurt-coated apricots! This coating also works on pretzels, but I find that the pretzels don't keep very well and quickly become stale.
(Images: Emma Christensen)