I’m in love with a vegan yogurt. The trend to go plant-based is ubiquitous, but we had no local iterations of probiotic un-yogurt until now. Then, Dallas-dwelling yogurt-makers I wrote (and raved) about, Stephanie and Brent Gilewicz of Milk & Patience, started making vegan, cultured coconut yogurt about six weeks ago. I saw and snapped it up at Royal Blue Grocery, where it filled half a shelf in various flavors, and loved it immediately. (It’s creamy, not as aggressively tangy as some cultured coconut yogurts, and totally delicious.)
“We felt the need to branch out into the vegan world,” says Stephanie. “Not to mention that half my family is vegan.”
Not five months ago, I was telling everyone to try their lush, Greek-style yogurt, which they’d been selling at the Dallas Farmers Market and several other spots since June 2018. Thick and creamy, it’s a revelation of nuanced flavor and indulgent texture.
They were flooded with vegan requests, and so they adapted their cow’s milk recipe. Coconut milk, which Stephanie heats to 140 rather than 180 degrees (simply to emulsify the fat), gets the same treatment: she cools it, adds the culture, then nurtures its growth in a warm, sous-vide environment for 20 hours or more. She sourced a pectin derived from citrus peels for thickening.
The vegan yogurts she’d been trying had “that kind of gummy and slimy texture,” she says. Whereas, in the cow’s-milk Greek-style yogurt, “one thing that we’re really proud of is that thick and creamy texture.” Citrus pectin created that result while remaining plant-based. “That’s all it takes,” she says. The texture remains “nice and light.”
I’ve since gone through all the flavors: shades of coconut softness play beautifully with the bright flavors of blueberry or blackberry; the incredible strawberry-vanilla is a dream with speckles of vanilla bean. (It’s Stephanie’s favorite, and mine, too, on days when it’s not the plain, simple but luscious.) She was thrilled to find what ginger would do with the coconut. They’re similar to their cow’s milk yogurts.
Brent makes and provides the cured salumi for Oak restaurant. Which I love. (“He’s got pig-face tattoos and knives and likes to break down a pig like nobody’s business,” Stephanie says.) But when the moment came, after countless experiments, he was the first to say, “Oh, my god, you wouldn’t believe it, but I think we’ve done the vegan yogurt.”
At Royal Blue Grocer, the coconut yogurt is layered into grab-and-go parfaits. At Ascension coffee shops, Milk & Patience cow’s milk yogurt is sprinkled with berries and house-made granola, while the cultured coconut yogurt forms a paleo bowl with a nut mix, toasted coconut, and edible flowers. You might be inclined to think vegan yogurt is taking over the world. It’s still basically just Stephanie making it, along with a few friends’ kids, whom she pays in yogurt. Expansion is the next step.