Here at The Impulsive Buy, new ice cream products tend to receive very positive reviews. Häagen-Dazs flavors, in particular, have never received lower than 7 out of 10. I think these scores are perfectly reasonable. Häagen-Dazs routinely comes out with interesting and well-executed new products but, look, when your product’s primary ingredients are sugar and cream, you’re set up for success. It’s just much harder to mess up ice cream than, say, microwaveable dinners, or breakfast sandwiches, or well-constructed lists of three things.
I propose, then, that we hold ice cream to a higher standard by applying what I call the pint test. The premise is simple: Is the ice cream so good that you would sacrifice your health and self-respect to eat a whole pint in one sitting? Häagen-Dazs would be held to an even higher standard since they now sell ice cream in 14-ounce containers, not in full pints (cost-sensitive bastards). Applying the scoring system to them, then, implies that I would hypothetically buy one carton, eat the whole thing, go back to the store, buy another carton, and eat at least 2 more ounces of that one. For this review of three new limited edition Häagen-Dazs flavors, I’ll offer a rating on the classic 1 to 10 scale as well as a “yes” or “no” on the pint test.
These new products all apparently fall under an international theme of “Small World, Big Flavors,” and this variety is “inspired by centuries-old recipes spanning from Europe & Asia.” I hadn’t realized there was anything particularly exotic about coconut macaroons, but I guess a brand with two made-up but vaguely Scandinavian words as its name has lots of practice in drawing upon the faintest of foreign connections.
Coconut ice cream filled with small bits of coconut macaroons might sound like too much coconut, but I thought they got the flavor just right. Both the cookie bits and the ice cream contributed to the coconuttiness in similarly pleasant parts, with neither ever tasting too strong. The ice cream was rich and buttery, though maybe a little too buttery, and the cookie bits were tasty and they were fluffy, chewy, and plentiful. But the problem was that they were still just bits, and while each bit made me want an actual macaroon more and more, no piece was large enough to satiate that craving. As they say, the sum of the crumbs doesn’t equal the cookie. (No one actually says that, but doesn’t that sound like an excellent proverb, one that might span from Europe & Asia?) In the end, no, I wouldn’t eat a whole pint, though I’d certainly eat a couple scoops before running to the bakery and buying some actual coconut macaroons.
Vanilla Bean Espresso
Now this one, I understand the international association. It’s the Häagen-Dazs take on Italian affogato, with a swirl of espresso mixed into vanilla bean ice cream. The potent vanilla flavor hit first, with an aroma and spice that put regular vanilla ice cream to shame. Arriving second but with no less power, the rich espresso flavor had an intensity that I wouldn’t be able to find at any number of coffeehouses. In fact, I suspect people who don’t regularly drink espresso may actually find the vanilla bean espresso ice cream to be too strong for their liking. It’s also somewhat less sweet than regular vanilla ice cream, so judge that as you will. As for me, yes, I would eat a whole pint, even at the risk of staying up all night from the caffeine. I’ll just use the extra waking hours to catch up with all the reality shows on my DVR. (Do you think Christina Aguilera has a contractual obligation to wear stupid hats on The Voice?)
Spiced Caramel Biscuit
Our final product is inspired by the classic European biscuit, speculoos. I don’t believe I’ve ever had speculoos, but I won’t bother seeking them out at this point because they can’t possibly be as good as this ice cream. The ice cream is smooth (i.e., there’s no caramel swirl) and has a solid caramel taste and scent without being too sweet, which I occasionally find to be a problem with caramel-added desserts. The cinnamon and ginger of the cookie crumbs contributed a real spiciness, and the crumbs’ crunchiness made for some nice textural variety. The most important feature of this ice cream was the presence of both cookie crumbs AND big cookie pieces. The crumbs in each bite momentarily whetted my appetite for cookies, and the cookie pieces in every other bite would immediately satisfy me. I say without any reservations that, yes, I would eat a whole pint. Even if I were lactose intolerant. And about to go on a first date. To see a silent film. In an otherwise empty movie theater. Yes, that good.
Run to the store now and try these new Häagen-Dazs limited edition flavors. Oh, and for the Vanilla Bean Espresso and Spiced Caramel Biscuit, save yourself a trip and just buy two cartons, you’ll want to eat a whole pint.
(Editor’s Note/Disclaimer: The author of this review received these almost-pints for free from the frozen folks at Häagen-Dazs. The Impulsive Buy was not paid for the review and only Jasper got the free ice cream. Lucky bastard. And, so ends the FTC-required disclosure. Now back to your regularly scheduled review.)
(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – Coconut Macaroon – 290 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein. Vanilla Bean Espresso – 260 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein. Spiced Caramel Biscuit – 290 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)
Item: Häagen-Dazs 2012 Limited Edition Flavors (Coconut Macaroon, Vanilla Bean Espresso, and Spiced Caramel Biscuit)
Size: 14 ounces
Purchased at: Received for free from Häagen-Dazs
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Coconut Macaroon)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Vanilla Bean Espresso)
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Spiced Caramel Biscuit)
Pros: Coconut Macaroon had just the right amount of coconut flavor, and cookie bits were fluffy and plentiful. Vanilla Bean Espresso was really intense in both its vanilla and espresso. Spiced Caramel Biscuit had great caramel flavor without being too sweet, and the cookie crumbs AND pieces added spiciness and crunch. Making up believable proverbs. Catching up on my reality TV.
Cons: Coconut Macaroon ice cream may have been a little too buttery, and the cookie bits were too small. Vanilla Bean Espresso may be distractingly strong or not sweet enough for some people. Häagen-Dazs now coming in 14 oz cartons. Häagen and Dazs are made up words. Eating whole pints of ice cream. Lactose intolerance.