Skyr is actually a soft cheese, although it has the texture of strained S .Greek yoghurt. It is eaten just about every day in Iceland by children and adults alike. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I was recently informed that due to its high protein (12%) and low fat content (0.5%), some Icelandic body-builders use Skyr instead of protein drinks in their quest to develop healthy muscle mass. I love using Skyr in cooking. Its relatively cheap, comes flavoured and unflavoured and can be used anywhere you would normally use thick Greek yoghurt or low-fat cream cheese and it keeps well. Skyrterta is one of my favourite desserts, mainly because you can vary it endlessly and is much better for you than most cheesecakes. If you forget about the sinful little pot of whipped cream in the recipe that follows, you can almost get away with thinking it is actually good for you. It’s certainly healthier than anything you will buy in the shops and it tastes divine. But, don’t just take my word for it, give it a go. If you are unlucky enough to live in a land that does not yet sell Skyr, strain a pot (or two) of thick Greek yoghurt in a sieve or colander thickly lined with kitchen-roll overnight in the fridge and use as directed. As with any recipe containing uncooked egg, do not serve to the very young, the very old, the sick or to pregnant women.has many culinary delights awaiting the intrepid traveller. As a family we love trying most anything. My everyday favourite however, has to be
- 4 large egg yolks
- 180g vanilla sugar (see recipe for pumpkin cheesecake)
- 500mls lightly whipped double cream
- The juice and finely grated rind from one large lemon
- 450g unflavoured Skyr
- 8 sheets of gelatine
- 400mls creamy milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Grease and bottom line a 23-25cm, deep-sided, loose bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper. Set to one side.
- Reduce the biscuits to crumbs using whatever method you prefer.
- Tip the crumbs into the bowl containing the melted butter. Stir until the crumbs are well coated with the butter.
- Press the crumbs into the bottom of your cake tin and put in the fridge while you get on with the topping.
- Put the gelatine sheets in a large bowl of cold water for at least 10 minutes or until they feel soft and squidgy.
- Bring the milk to the boil and cool slightly.
- Drain the gelatine thoroughly and add to the cooling milk.
- Stir until the gelatine is completely dissolved – this only takes a few seconds.
- Meanwhile, whip the egg yolks and vanilla sugar until light and frothy – if you lift the mixture up, you should be able to leave a trail of mix in the bowl.
- Slowly add the milk, lemon juice and lemon rind and mix well.
- When the mixture is fairly cool, add the lightly whipped cream and Skyr, mixing until well combined.
- Pour the Skyr mix into your waiting crumb base.
- Smooth the top with the back of a large spoon and put into the fridge to set. Overnight is best, otherwise a minimum of 4 hours.
This will happily feed 10-12. I like to serve it with frozen berries that I defrost and whiz up in the food processor and to which I add a couple of tbsp of icing sugar to sweeten. Fresh berries are of course fine, I use frozen due to the high cost and short shelf-life of fresh berries here in Iceland. Blueberries and pineapple also work very well. Although you mustn’t put pineapple juice in your skyrterta as it won’t set, no matter how long it stays in the fridge. Whipped cream to accompany wouldn’t be the worst thing you could serve with it. Enjoy!
Variations: Ring the changes by leaving out the lemon juice and rind and instead add tiny chunks of deliciously sticky stem ginger (the kind you find in a jar) and a couple of tablespoons of the ginger syrup to the skyr and cream mix and for the base use ginger biscuits. Top with warmed runny honey and chopped pistachios. You can of course use flavoured skyr to which you could add extra fruit pieces – strawberries, cranberries and blueberries work very well in that case.
My all-time favourite variation: leave out the lemon juice and lemon rind. Reduce the sugar to 100g. Add 50-60g of white chocolate options powder, or any good quality sweetened white chocolate drink. When thoroughly combined and before you pour it into the cake tin, check for sweetness. If not quite sweet enough for you, simply add powdered sweetener or icing sugar to taste. Use white/dark chocolate chip Maryland cookies for the base and drizzle the top with melted white/dark chocolate. Serve with plump berries of your choice. You can pretend it’s good for you as the white chocolate options are low-calorie. But, good for you or not, it comes highly recommended by me 🙂
I frequently mix a 450g pot of unflavoured Skyr with 25-30g of white chocolate options and 1 tsp of vanilla extract and serve as is in little bowls accompanied by whatever frozen berries I have left in the freezer. Very occasionally, I drizzle some fresh cream over. Serves 2/3 if preceded by a main course meal.
Some interesting articles:
- The Food in Iceland (joylovestravel.com)
- Favourite Icelandic Culinary Treats (amyandjamesblog.wordpress.com)
- Quick notes about Iceland (sohflo.wordpress.com)
- Icelandic Food: The delicious, weird and downright cute (misstravelosopher.com)
- At Home With Siggi Hilmarsson (observer.com)