Bananas, mangoes, coconut in cool, cultured desserts

Imagine yourself in the kitchen of ice cream gourmets Mable and Gar Hoffman. The whirl of electric home ice cream makers competes with the sound of knives chopping fresh fruits and nuts, spatulas scraping cream-filled bowls and voices evaluating the tastes of rich, cool experimental desserts.

Included among recipes for Fried Ice Cream -- balls of chocolate and vanilla dipped in a crumb coating and fried for 8 to 10 seconds -- Baked Alaska and Peach Bombe in the Hoffman's new book, "Ice Cream," (HP Books, $5.95) are several superb ones for frozen yogurt with a distinctive light and just slightly tart flavor.

Soft-serve frozen yogurts have become extremely popular in the ten years or so since their commercial introduction in this country, especially in fruit flavors and with fruit toppings which complement their slightly tangy taste.

Mable Hoffman told me, when I asked about her experiments with this tasty cultured dairy food, that there are several easy and efficient ways of preparing frozen yogurt at home.

Hand or electric home ice cream makers will naturally produce an exceptionally light and smooth dessert, but many yogurts, she explains, will freeze very successfully in a refrigerator-freezer if stirred a few times during the process. Use homemade yogurt or choose a commercial plain yogurt with these recipes.

The following recipe is so easy that children may want to make it themselves or to help out at the banana-mashing stage. Banana-Orange Yogurt 2 large bananas, mashed 1 Tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 cup honey 1 cup orange juice 2 cups plain yogurt

In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, lemon juice, honey and orange juice. Stir yogurt until smooth, then stir into banana mixture. Pour into ice cream canister. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

Freezer method: Pour prepared mixture into a 9-inch square pan or several undivided ice trays. Cover with foil or plastic wrap. Place in freezer; freeze until firm, 3 to 6 hours. Stir 2 or 3 times with a fork or spoon while freezing. Makes about 6 cups.

For a smoother texture, freeze until almost firm, 1 to 3 hours. Break into small pieces. Spoon half of mixture into a chilled large bowl or chilled food processor bowl. Beat with electric mixer or metal food processor blade until light and fluffy but not thawed. Repeat with remaining partially frozen mixture. Immediately return beaten mixture to pan and freeze until firm, 1 to 3 hours.

"Golden Glow Yogurt" has delighted many of the Hoffman's guest who haven't been able to identify its unusual and nutritious ingredients. Golden Glow Yogurt 2 cups plain yogurt 2 cups orange juice 1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup sugar 4 medium carrots, grated (2 cups) 2 teaspoons grated orange peel 1/4 cup finely chopped raisins

In a medium bowl, stir yogurt until smooth. Add orange juice, honey and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in carrots, orange peel and raisins. Freeze by either method, using a 9 inch square pan or several undivided ice trays for the freezer method. Makes about 2 quarts.

Mrs. Hoffman suggests serving this exquisite, tropical yogurt in coconuts halves topped with a light grating of coconut. Mango-Coconut Yogurt 2 ripe mangoes 1 cup honey 4 cups plain yogurt 1/2 cup flaked coconut

Peel mangoes. Cut pulp from seeds; discard seeds. In blender or food processor, puree mango pulp and honey until almost smooth; set aside. In a large bowl, stir yogurt until smooth. Stir in pureed fruit mixture and coconut. Pour into ice cream canister. Freeze by either method, using a 9 inch square pan or undivided ice trays for the freezer method. Makes about 2 quarts.

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