Archive for the 'frozen yogurt' Category


Yonanas, a gadget worth the counter space

When we first got a huge box from my mother-in-law around the holidays, I approached it with trepidation. She likes buying us kitchenware. And we’re already so short on storage space that things pop out and attack us when we open our cabinets.

Turns out it was the Yonanas machine, a phallic-looking gadget that turns frozen bananas into something akin to soft serve. Yonanas isn’t a juicer, but it’s designed specifically for creating banana magic. (Shockingly, Yonanas did not sponsor this blog post, and Michelle Obama is not the national spokeswoman.)

On Pie V. Cake we’ve extolled the virtues of Annie’s Banannies before in this review. You may have come across something similar at Chicken Out, with their Going Bananas product.  Here’s the clincher: it’s just a frozen banana, but it tastes creamy like dairy.

The other cool part is the show. Watching the machine go to work is half the fun. At first, it spits out a few shards of frozen banana. That had us worried. But by the time the second banana’s in the machine, it’s at the soft-serve-texture stage.

The cool part of having your own machine is you can add other fruit into the mix. Here we tried frozen blueberries. We’ve also done pineapple. One thing to note is that you always need plenty of bananas for your base, because you don’t get the creamy texture from the other fruits. Another tip: give your bananas plenty of time to freeze. Put them in at least a day ahead. When you want to impress dinner guests, it kind of ruins things if they have to stick around a few hours waiting for flaccid bananas to harden.


Potato chips, meet ice cream. Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night Snack

If Ben & Jerry’s offered to make you a custom flavor, what would you put in it? Jimmy Fallon chose salted caramel and fudge-covered potato chips. While I’m down with the salty-sweet combos, the potato chip “clusters” in this taste greasy (think Lay’s, but concentrated). Mr. x-sXe begged to differ, though, and polished off half a pint in no time.


Trader Joe’s mochi coconut “ice cream,” and how traditional mochi can kill you

This is a pretty great product, especially if you’re lactose intolerant. The coconut filling is creamy enough that it could be mistaken for regular ice cream, only your GI tract isn’t at the mercy of a bottle of lactase. (You get 2 of each flavor in a perfectly pre-portioned mochi wrapper.) The mango was my favorite, followed by the dark chocolate.

Speaking of which, I have never, ever understood the popularity of mochi, which is a Japanese sticky rice cake widely found throughout East Asia. It’s like chewing on a super dense, unsweet marshmallow dusted with flour. My jaw tires just thinking about it. Sometimes there’s a sweet bean paste center or some other filling, which makes it marginally more appealing.

You may have seen small mochi bits in the toppings bar at your Red Mango or Pinkberry. Mochi is a New Year’s tradition in Japan, and every year a few people–usually the elderly–choke to death on it. Which results in another (rather morbid) Japanese New Year tradition: reporting the mochi death toll.

Luckily the mochi in this product isn’t your typical mochi, but a more gelatinous and rubbery shell that’s easy to chew. For me it was just a layer standing in the way of the coconut creaminess underneath. But at least it’s a lot more palatable than the kind of mochi that doubles as a Darwinian device.


Yogiberry Bethesda

Mr X-sXe and were strolling around downtown Bethesda when we spotted Yogiberry, a self-service yogurt place that’s decorated like a candy store on acid.

I’ve been skeptical about self-serve froyo ever since being underwhelmed by FroZenYo, but we decided to give it a go.

I was taken aback/impressed/baffled by the Asian-ness of the offerings. With flavors like taro root and toppings like rambutan, litchi, and longan (very similar white-fleshed Asian fruits, below), you’d think you were in Singapore or something.

Collectively, we tried the chocolate, original, pistachio, taro root, coconut, and green tea yogurt flavors. Our favorites were the original and green tea, which are worth going back for. Least favorite? The chocolate (too icy) and coconut (too sweet). Problem is the temptation to go overboard at these places. At 49 cents an ounce, our yogurts came out to $6+ apiece (!) And beware if you’re caught tasting or eating before you’ve paid: there’s a $10 on-the-spot fine, though we didn’t see any froyo police milling around.

10 asks, “Will ‘Snow Ice’ be the next Pinkberry?”

Um, the answer is no.

Snow ice (or shaved ice) is a Taiwanese dessert: sweetened shaved ice topped with fruit, taro root (a potato-like vegetable with a creamy texture), chewy Bobas, and whatever else you can pile on. In fact, we have had difficulty identifying all the bits and bobs in our bowl of snow ice in the past. Pie V Cake’s guess is that if snow ice ever blows up, it will eventually go the way of Boba tea: trendy for a time, then relegated mainly to Asian eateries.

Here’s why:

  • It’s not like ice cream. Part of froyo’s success is that it’s a healthier alternative to a national favorite, ice cream. Snow ice is very…icy. Even with condensed milk in it, it still evokes a snow cone, which is something people typically don’t crave after puberty.
  • Hold the beans. Snow ice toppings usually include beans. Not exactly a topping we associate with desserts in the U.S.
  • We have four seasons. Snow ice is popular in Asian countries because it helps people combat the heat (Taiwan has a subtropical climate). Very few regions of the U.S. get hot enough outside of summer to have a perpetual need for a dessert like this. While froyo sales slow down in the winter, snow ice sales probably fall off a cliff.
  • Lack of portability. Snow ice is typically a huge mound of stuff. You can’t walk and eat it at the same time–although that would be a pretty awesome sight.

Photo via Serious Eats.


Yogenfruz mall invasion

Yogenfruz has set up shop in both Pentagon City and Tysons Corner malls (as well as downtown DC, near McPherson Square Metro). If you’re looking for something beyond the original tart, they have “Nu mixes,” which are preblended flavors, or you can choose from a case of frozen fruits to blend into their original. The frozen litchis (third from left in the photo) tempted me, but the siren call of the key lime pie Nu mix was stronger.

The flavor of the yogurt reminded me of those key lime pie slices you can buy individually in the Safeway freezer case. Too sweet and artificial tasting. Tangysweet still reigns supreme. But this hasn’t deterred me from trying Yogenfruz again–I’ll hit the litchis next time.


frozenyo dc, a froyo fan’s paradise?

I can understand why people dig FroZenYo so much. It’s got 16 kinds of frozen yogurt–literally, a wall of yogurt machines offering intriguing flavors like red velvet and pistachio. You help yourself to as much or as little as you want, since you pay by weight. A toppings bar gives you carte blanche with the toppings (sparing you from silently cursing the person  behind the sneeze guard for stiffing you on sprinkles). There’s even free hot fudge.

Photo via

The Columbia Heights location just opened this week, and there’s another one that’s been open in Metro Center. While I was totally sold on the concept behind this place, I wasn’t sold on the actual product. The original tart flavor (by which all yogurt places will be measured on Pie V. Cake) was creamy and sweet, but where was the tartness? Same goes for the coconut.

I don't think I'd make it as a hand model.

I was also puzzled by their lactose-free flavors. I thought that most frozen yogurts were lactose-free, since bacteria consume the lactose during the yogurt-making process. Does that mean this isn’t made from real yogurt? Or does it just mean they add cream later to enhance the flavor? Anyway, to spare my coworkers of the possible consequences of lactose in my system, I had to hit the Lactaid big time.

I’ll definitely be back–in the name of research–to try some other flavors. But alas, for now FroZenYo doesn’t quite hit the spot the way Tangysweet or Sweet Green does.


The state of the freezer

There is a flavor at TangySweet worth stocking up on right now. It’s the featured flavor, coconut, at the Gallery Place location. It’s chock fulla shredded coconut. Mmmmmm.

The cold weather helps prevent any meltage on the trip home. That’s probably the only benefit of Punxatawney Phil seeing his shadow this year.

And yes, there sometimes is an avalanche of food when I open the freezer door.


what we’ll do for free dessert

Pie sought refuge at Mr. Yogato following the Dupont Snowball Fight of Ought-10, and noticed that some new rules were posted. The most intriguing one promised 25% off if a customer dressed like Bjorn Borg, and 50% off if said customer would perform Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” in a Swedish accent.
Now, Pie hangs with people who love the dessert, which meant that last night, she was tasked with documenting this:

Mr. Epi-pen, who is allergic to most everything on the planet, loves frozen yogurt. He also loves short shorts. So when he found out about the opportunity to score some discounts on yogurt while shaking his booty, it was a natural fit.
Here’s the execution:
and the execution:

and the payoff:

Seriously, look at how high those toppings are piled!

It turns out that Mr. Epi-pen was actually the THIRD person to try for the Bjorn Borg discount. He was, however, so impressive in his execution that he got his yogurt for free. (And yes, that’s right – the whole point of doing this was to get 50% off of a yogurt that usually costs about $5.)
And if that weren’t enough, he also learned how to play Scattergories. BONUS!
All in all, last night served as a valuable reminder as to why Mr. Yogato is my favorite yogurt place in DC. Domo arigato, Mr. Yogato!


Another DC cupcake war contender: Red Velvet cupcakery

I tried Red Velvet (the lime and red velvet flavors) when they first opened and remember being indifferent. They seem to have stepped up their game a bit since then. Pretty impressive presentation, right?


We liked the chocolate ganache better than the red velvet, but both were good. If chocolate ganache is your thing, I still recommend the Gianduja cupcake from Hello Cupcake over this though. Sorry, Red Velvet. That Italian hazelnut paste in the Gianduja edged you out.

However, Red Velvet recently did have a limited-time flavor that we thought was pretty amazing: honey fig. We bought the very last one of the day. I had to mentally will the woman in front of me not to buy it. The honey buttercream, paired with the cooked fig center and flavorful cake was heaven. Although not exactly ecofriendly, I appreciate how the individual box kept the cupcake intact on the journey home. (Some places give you individual cupcakes in a bag, so half the frosting winds up stuck to the bag).

rv 010

I’m also really happy that they partner with Tangysweet. The Tangysweet in Penn Quarter is right next door to Red Velvet. Plus, the Dupont Circle Tangysweet location actually carries 4-5 flavors of Red Velvet’s cupcakes on any given day, so you can get your froyo and your cupcake on–at the same time!