I had the most emotional experience a few years ago when my parents took me up to the northeast to drop me off at college. It was heart wrenching. Painful. Soul crushing. Never have so many tears been shed.
We took a tour of the Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard.
Here, I witnessed all the good things in life I would never be able to know. Dozens of incredible ice creams who all died too young. Rainforest Crunch? Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road? Why did we turn our backs on remarkable ingredients like cashew-brazil nut buttercrunch and peanut butter cookie dough? So Pistachio Pistachio could keep its spot in the freezers? I couldn’t handle it. The world wasn’t the same without these. The inimitable lost ice creams needed to be revived.
The new line of “core” flavors is actually a resurrection of sorts. The concept first appeared back in 2002, and Karamel Sutra has been on shelves since. However, I can’t say this was the resurrection I was hoping for. For the most part, all of the new flavors are just recycling components already found in other pints. There’s very little ingredient innovation going on here. These pints are basically the same as when Taco Bell announces some new rehashing of tortilla, ground beef, and cheese.
That being said, there’s nothing that prevents a rehashing from tasting good. Their Salted Caramel Core flavor, a sweet cream ice cream base with blonde brownies and a salted caramel core, seemed to me to be one of the best combinations they could make with their current arsenal. That is, unless they develop an ice cream with a cookie dough core. Flavor gurus, take note.
I was most excited about writing this review for the sole purpose of doing this:
This cross-section is a work of art. I believe in the industry this is what they refer to as “core-core porn.” Regardless of the practicality of the core, I will admit that this is beautiful. So if you’re the kind of person who regularly likes to take out your aggression on a pint with a 10 inch blade, this might be the flavor for you.
The biggest issue at hand here is core mixing: how to get that center pocket distributed into every bite. I feared that I would run into the same issue that I do with cupcakes, where you get a few really great bites of heavy frosting and then are left with a lot of dry mediocre cake.
By the time I started eating, the ice cream and caramel were soft enough that I could mix them together on my spoon fairly easily and avoided that problem. However, I’m usually an impatient ice cream consumer who ends up chiseling at a frozen pint, and I can’t see this set up working for me on a normal basis. I also don’t see how this would work well in their fudge core flavors, because while cold caramel still has a certain malleability, cold fudge seems impossible to distribute.
The best thing this pint has going for it is that it’s safe from the chunk diggers in your household. The blondie pieces are prevalent, but much smaller than those in Rockin’ Blondies, so they’re impossible to extract on their own. And while it’s technically possible to hollow out the pint and eat nothing but caramel, I can’t see that being a pleasant experience unless you like to lick salt rocks to pass the time. I thought the salted caramel paired well with the sweet cream base, but it’s not a component that can stand alone.
All in all, is this ice cream good? Yes, very. Does it deserve the hype it’s been getting? Probably not. The core does nothing that a great swirl couldn’t, and there’s nothing special about a salted caramel flavor anymore. If Ben and Jerry’s wants to rehash old components, at least bring back the stuff you can’t get from anyone else. Give me cashew-brazil nut buttercrunch, then we’ll talk.
(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 270 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)
Item: Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Core Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Co-op Food Stores
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Good flavor combination. Gooey caramel. Lots of mix-ins. Chunk digger prevention. Playing with knives.
Cons: Rehashing old ingredients. The horrors of the Flavor Graveyard. Trans fat. Dry cupcakes. Being too impatient to let ice cream soften. Making you work for caramel distribution. Oatmeal Cookie Chunk didn’t deserve to die for this.