The $2 Culinary School Trick That Levels Up Any Fruit Dessert
Summer in the northeast means we are finally rewarded for patiently abiding long months of squash, potatoes, and roots with an explosion of the sweetest and most vibrant summer produce. When the farmers markets fill up with heirloom tomatoes, nearly neon peas and beans, and crates of juicy peaches, I remember why I live here.
When I say this is my favorite time to cook, I don’t actually mean turning on the stove or firing up the oven. I mean a bit of chopping, maybe some mixing and tossing, and eating as much wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.
While a plate of local berries can certainly stand on its own as the period at the end of a perfect summer meal, I love to employ a trick I picked up in culinary school to complement nature’s finest. It involves fresh cream and a secret ingredient: Icelandic Provisions Skyr.
What is Skyr?
Skyr (pronounced “skeer”) is technically a cheese, like ricotta, but it’s generally thought of and eaten like yogurt. Like other cheeses, skyr is made with milk, live active cultures, and rennet (yogurt does not include rennet).
Skyr has a thick texture that’s creamier than Greek yogurt and a flavor that’s naturally rich and mild, rather than sour or tangy. The difference in texture and taste from traditional American-made yogurts comes from the rennet and heirloom cultures that have been used in Iceland for more than a thousand years.
Skyr is made with skim milk, rather than whole milk like many Greek yogurts, so it’s naturally lower in fat, but it has the robust texture and ultra-creamy flavor of full-fat dairy (thanks to the rennet). It takes four cups of milk to produce one cup of skyr, so you can imagine how concentrated it becomes. In fact, so much of the milk’s lactase is removed during production that many people who are lactose-sensitive can enjoy skyr.
What’s So Great About Icelandic Provisions Skyr?
Icelandic Provisions (which doesn’t actually use rennet in its ultra-creamy, but fully vegetarian skyr) has brought this Icelandic delight to grocery stores in the U.S. in dozens of flavors, like pineapple, key lime, and berry medley. I like that even the flavored versions aren’t overly sweet or packed with sugar (most have around 7 grams of added sugar).
What’s the Best Way to Use Skyr?
Just like yogurt, you can eat skyr straight-up with your favorite granola and fruit. It’s also thick enough to spread on toast like ricotta or whip into a dip. But my absolute favorite way to eat skyr is to incorporate it into whipped cream.
First off, if you’re not making your own whipped cream, it’s time to start. If you have an electric mixer (standing or hand-held), it’s a breeze. And even without a machine, all it takes is some elbow grease and passing the bowl and whisk around the table until you reach nice stiff peaks. Once your cream is whipped and you’re ready to really impress a crowd, grab your skyr.
Add the skyr and mix on low speed just until it’s fully incorporated into the whipped cream. I’ll use one 5.3-ounce container for about a half pint of cream, but you can easily adjust the amount of skyr to your liking. More skyr will give you a stiffer, heavier cream that’s tangier and more flavorful. Use less for a lighter, fluffier topping that’s mildly flavored. Depending on how much you add, you might not even need to further sweeten the cream with confectioner’s sugar.
I like to serve my skyr whipped cream dolloped over fresh berries, peaches, or nectarines. Of course, it’s also a delightful addition to a slice of tart or pie, or simply ice cream for a fancy sundae. The subtle tanginess and fruity flavor from the Icelandic dairy is a blissfully easy way to bring any summer dessert up a notch.
Buy: Icelandic Provisions Berry Medley Skyr, $1.49 for 5.3 ounces at Amazon
What grocery staples are you buying to elevate your summer desserts? Tell us about it in the comments below.