Things to make with Icelandic skyr…

Iceland has many culinary delights awaiting the intrepid traveller. As a family we love trying most anything. My everyday favourite however, has to be Icelandic Skyr. Skyr is actually a soft cheese, although it has the texture of strained 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.

Icelandic skyrterta

Photo by Aron Hinriksson

Ingredients:

Topping:

  • 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

Crust:

Method:

  • 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.

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4 thoughts on “Things to make with Icelandic skyr…

  1. Dear Chris and Ethna,
    We are Lena and Nikos, a couple living in Athens Greece. Last summer we had the pleasure to meet a fantastic family from Akureyri, Iceland that visited us in Athens and Kalamata – Mani in South Peloponnese. We became very good friends and we plan to visit Iceland next June. Since we decided to visit this fantastic country we started visiting “Extreme Icelandic Adventures” page in facebook in order to learn anything possible about Iceland. This is how we learned about you and your blog.
    We read about Icelandic Skyr cream and we are for sure going to try it during our visit.
    What is interesting is that as you mention tastes like Greek yogurt. Realising that you are interested for healthy food I would like to share with and your followers the recipe of the original Greek “tzatziki”, the world famous appetizer, that you can use while eating any kind of grilled meat.
    I am sure that we can make this recipe in Iceland using Icelanding Skyr.

    Ingredients: 1/2 kgr of strained Greek yogurt or Icelandic Skyr (you can use also low fat yogurt), 1 normal size cucumber, 5-6 cloves of garlic, pepper, salt and Greek extra virgin oil olive.
    Method: We smash the cucumber in tiny pieces and we press it very well with our hands in order to take out all the water (if the cucumber has water, tzatziki will become very liquid-something we have to avoid). We smash also the garlic in the same way. Finally we mix the yogurt with the cucumber and the garlic, we add salt and pepper (according to your taste) and 1 water glass of Greek olive oil (the extra virgin oil is the secret of tzatziki!!!). We keep mixing with a spoon all the ingredients until all of them become one and we put the tzatziki in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours.

    I hope you try the recipe and you like it.
    Mediterannean and Greek cousine is very healthy because its based on ingredients like fresh vegetables, fish, meat, goat or sheep milk and of course Greek olive oil.
    If you are interested in more Greek recipies please contact us.
    Best regards
    Lena – Nikos

    Like

    • Hey Lena and Nikos, thank you so much for commenting on my blog post. I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. Many thanks for the recipe. I have made tzatziki before, but have never added the olive oil! Thank you for sharing your kitchen secrets. How would you like to do a ‘guest post’ on the blog? It would be great to have your recipe accompanied by some lovely photos. What do you think? My son’s fiancé is Greek Cypriot, I’m sure she will be thrilled when I serve her with some authentic tzatziki🙂

      Like

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