REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins Oreo Cheesecake Ice Cream

Baskin Robbins Oreo Cheesecake Ice Cream

The crafty cookie-obsessed churners at Baskin-Robbins entered the middle of 2017 facing a real dilemma. How the hell could they make another dessert-themed frozen dessert with the iconic Oreo?

It isn’t enough that the chain always stocks Cookies n’ Cream and now has Golden Oreo ’N Churro as a summer seasonal. Even last month’s All About Oreo couldn’t possibly quench America’s thirst for the beloved sandwiched “white stuff.” There needed to be another…layer.

After malted chocolate and cake batter and birthday cake and cereal and mint, there’s seemingly only one place to go – the decadent, heavy, cheesecake. One of the oldest desserts in history, which was allegedly served to athletes at the first Olympic Games, was destined to make sweet creamy magic with Nabisco’s #1 seller during the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Baskin-Robbins’ Oreo Cheesecake combines Oreo cookie pieces, cheesecake pieces, and a chocolate cookie crumb ribbon in cheesecake flavored ice cream.

The base is immediately apparent with a distinct tanginess that jumps out from the first bite and doesn’t fade. It’s smooth, velvety, and delicious with a good balance of sweet and savory. Oddly, the tang reminds me a little bit more of Greek yogurt than cheesecake, as I don’t get any particular cheesiness coming through. But the point gets across and I don’t think I’m eating vanilla or sweet cream.

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The cheesiness goes up a notch with the actual cheesecake pieces. They’re like those small-to-medium sized ones you can find at build your own frozen yogurt shops. They’ve maintained their squishy-dense texture and give off a hint of graham cracker crust flavor that pops against the tangy ice cream base.

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I worried about the redundancy of the Oreo pieces and cookie crumb ribbon, but the two are distinct and interwoven very well throughout the scoop. The ribbon is more akin to what you find in typical cookies and cream flavors, with some good gritty texture and mellow bitter cocoa notes.

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Much more prominent are the bigger pieces of Oreo cookie, which have entire layers of creme filling intact. They’re a welcomed sweet element to temper the tang of the cheesecake. The wafer cookies soften and soak up the creamy goodness, and the sizes of the mix-ins are pretty big for Baskin-Robbins’ standards which makes the whole experience elevated and impressive for what I expect at a chain shop.

It’s a pretty simple recipe – Oreo and cheesecake. Baskin-Robbins could’ve been lazy with this one and made a cookies & cream ice cream with a cheesecake base, but they didn’t. By hitting each element from two different angles, this monthly special is one of the more enticing in recent memory. It’s worth scooping up to end the last full month of summer on a blissfully tangy sweet frozen note.

(Nutrition Facts – 4 oz. scoop – 300 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 4 oz. scoop
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tangy creamy cheesecake base. Ample cheesecake chunks. Big pieces of Oreo cookie with distinguishable creme.
Cons: Tang is a little closer to yogurt than cheesecake.

REVIEW: Krispy Kreme Reese’s Peanut Butter Doughnut

Krispy Kreme s Reese s Peanut Butter Doughnut

How many ways are there to eat a Reese’s? Aside from the classic cup formation, there are many candy offshoots, a breakfast cereal, spreads, Chips Ahoy! cookies, Baskin-Robbins ice cream, Breyers ice cream, and on and on. Apparently, people like Reese’s.

Coming in right as the dog days of summer settle in with increasing heat and laziness, Krispy Kreme unleashed a morning confection that features a classic yeast doughnut filled with Reese’s Peanut Butter Kreme, dipped in milk chocolate icing, topped with Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips and chopped peanuts, and finished with a drizzle of chocolate and peanut butter. Whew. Are you still breathing? I’m not sure that I am.

This doughnut is a thing of beauty. It feels heavy in the hand and looks like a million lip smackin’ peanut buttery bucks. The light brown drizzle is exactly as advertised, and is straight peanut butter that squishes and moves to the touch. I was anticipating an icing or frosting with some firmness but it maintains its gooey-ness, and as I lick it off of my fingers, it is salty and fatty in all the right ways.

Biting in is a revelation of Krispy-meets-Reese’s indulgence that is damn near everything I had hoped it would be. Given KK’s notoriously sweet reputation I’m shocked by the restrained and balanced sweetness in the overall flavor. The rich fattiness from the peanuts and peanut butter on top mingle with the chocolate icing and chips for the ultimate topping yin and yang, pairing wonderfully with the pillowy, soft, not at all greasy, and not at all sweet yeast doughnut. The toppings do well to boost the intention of the doughnut but also bring a solid crunch to push up against the abundant fresh softness of the chew itself.

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The highlight of this Krispy masterpiece, and likely what will draw most people to want to try it, is the Reese’s Kreme filling. Krispy Kreme’s usual kreme is smooth and very sweet with vanilla undertones. It has many similarities to the filling made famous by Hostess and Little Debbie. This filling takes that same thick, slightly whipped texture and tempers it flawlessly with rich peanut butter-y notes that are juuussst sweet enough to honor the iconic candy. It’s smooth and velvety with a bold nuttiness that still leaves enough room for a little of that signature KK filling flavor to sneak through. My one minor complaint is I wish there was a bit more filling, as both ends of the doughnut were a bit naked.

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Simply put, this doughnut tastes better than it costs, and for $1.59 it is an absolute steal and must-try for any peanut butter or fried dough aficionado. With a touch more chocolate and a hint more filling, the chain pastry world would be looking at a perfect 10, but no matter how I try and nitpick, I already want another one.

(Nutrition Facts – 400 calories, 220 calories from fat, 24 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.59
Size: N/A
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Amazingly balanced sweetness. Beautiful peanut butter kreme. Real peanut butter drizzle. Soft pillowy fresh yeast base.
Cons: Could use a touch more chocolate and PB filling…but truly it’s a struggle to find a weakness here.

REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins All About Oreo Ice Cream

Baskin Robbins All About Oreo Ice Cream

July is National Ice Cream Month, and even more importantly, the third Sunday in July, this year the 16th, is National Ice Cream Day. Unlike the onslaught of hashtag holidays that have taken over the internet via social media sites (I’m lookin’ at you “National Cheese Brownie Day”), this food holiday is a real deal culinary celebration signed into public law by Ronald Reagan in 1984.

As the biggest scoop shop chain in the world, it’s only fitting that Baskin-Robbins take note of this momentous occasion and party hard, which apparently to them means pairing their creamy churned goodness with one of America’s other obsessions – Oreo cookies.

For the last five years BR has made July the month to highlight the iconic cookie with flavors that have gotten progressively more interesting from Oreo ’n Chocolate to Oreo ’n Cake Batter to last year’s smashing Oreo Birthday Cake. With seemingly nowhere else to go, 2017’s celebratory scoop is simply dubbed All About Oreo, which combines fudge-covered, peanut butter, and classic Oreo pieces with an Oreo frosting ribbon in chocolate malt ice cream.

The chocolate malt ice cream is dense and smooth, with a light brown color and a relatively light flavor to match it. I don’t get any of the malty funkiness that I expected from the base, and instead it tastes more like a heavy milk chocolate with no bitterness or strong cocoa notes to be found. It’s a fine ice cream as a foundation for fun mix-ins but isn’t really anything new or exciting.

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What is exciting though is the Oreo frosting ribbon, which is pretty well incorporated throughout the scoop and tastes exactly how I hoped it would – slightly gritty, creamy, and identical to the creme filling we all know and love. In the context of ice cream it reminds me a lot of buttercream, and anyway you want to interpret it it’s pure sweet fun indulgence. It works really well with the chocolate ice cream and stands against its milk chocolate-y presence.

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The mixture of Oreo cookies is also really effective, and the cookie pieces are of pretty good size and variety. The peanut butter Oreo cuts through with great nutty flavor, and the fudge-covered ones have a harder crunch and smooth milk chocolate exterior that create a pleasant textural contrast against the regular cookies which have softened in the cream. The Oreo wafer is noticeably darker and more bitter than the base which also adds another layer to the choco-heavy profile.

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This ice cream truly is all about the Oreo, for reasons both good and bad. While the base is pretty standard and veers on being boring, the cookies are the star of the show and the ribbon is something I would buy a tub of. It could be improved if the regular Oreo’s were subbed out with Golden ones to add another layer of pop, since they aren’t as special with the PB ones already in the mix, but if you love Oreo or milk chocolate this one is a mighty fine filler for your next cake cone.

(Nutrition Facts – 4 ounces – 310 calories, 170 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: Single Scoop (4 oz.)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Perfectly executed Oreo frosting ribbon. All three cookies stand out. Solid textural contrast.
Cons: No malt flavor in the chocolate base. Could be improved with Golden Oreo.

REVIEW: Apple Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal

Apple Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal

The best way to start your morning?

Cinnamon.

Naturally sweet and spicy, it helps boost brain function, improves blood circulation, and can even prevent cancer! A doctor also once told me that if I ate an apple every day I would never have to come back to his office, so, an apple caked in cinnamon must be the answer to all of life’s problems. Seemingly hearing my call for health help, General Mills has added Apple Cinnamon Toast Crunch to their Toast line of breakfast cereals.

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Tasting the cereal dry, the first thing that jumps out at me is this stuff does not have the big crystallized sugary pop of its father and cinna-GOAT, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Although I could already tell this just from looking at them, the texture is exactly the same as the now buried Tiny Toast line – puffy and crunchy loaf slices with a relatively soft chew that is generally pleasant for a kiddy cereal.

The flavor is headlined by a solid authentic apple flavor that if I had to guess was modeled after a red delicious as it isn’t too tart or sweet, but definitely juicy. The cinnamon takes more of a backseat, with just a slightly spicy finish that gives a bit of a robust and rounded flavor without being too aggressive.

The two work really well together and are pretty seamless like fresh apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon. Despite being able to see some sparkly sugar on the surface of the toasts, I think more sweetness would have really helped give the cinnamon more sparkle and driven the overall flavor to new heights.

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Adding milk to the equation amplifies the apple and further subdues the cinnamon, adding in a new tart layer that more closely mimics a granny smith than the red delicious I initially tasted. The flavor switch here is kind of surprising, as I’m used to milk driving the sweetness or freshness of a cereal rather than actually changing the way my mouth interprets it. Unfortunately, it fades pretty quickly in the milk, as the liquid rips off the cereal dust and sogs up the pieces much faster than I would like.

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All in all this is an okay cereal, one that would be acceptable with a different namesake but doesn’t live up to the fame and glory of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It doesn’t pack the true berry flavor of Blueberry Tiny Toast (which is now Blueberry Toast Crunch, and one of my favorite new cereals of last year), and is just above its strawberry sibling for being an option that is suitable but not one I feel the need to buy again if not on sale.

It does, however, whoop Apple Jacks in the realm of solid apple flavor, and if that was a favorite of yours growing up, you may have found a new best Sunday morning friend.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 120 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 11.1 oz. box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Bright juicy apple flavor. Fascinatingly transforms in milk. Better than Apple Jacks.
Cons: Needs more cinnamon sparkle. Needs more sugary sparkle. Gets soggy in milk real fast.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Cotton Candy Twinkies

Limited Edition Cotton Candy Twinkies

I have a sinking suspicion someone from Hostess got drunk at a carnival and had way too much fun with some cute carnies. I envision the deep fried Twinkie stand being manned by a fun young lass who dared the Hostess rep to create the ultimate ode to her and her young child, who was cradling a big wispy whirly stack of cotton candy. Trying to win over her affection he made a promise then and there to put something exclusively on Walmart shelves that would honor her forever, and in that moment, the Cotton Candy Twinkie was born.

Or something like that.

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Pulling out my first cellophane beauty from its cardboard carnival house it’s no surprise that I’m greeted with a lovely smear of grease on the clear plastic, like the Twinkie was desperately trying to escape its factory sealed prison the entire time it was inside.

Releasing the ‘twink from captivity I’m immediately hit with a distinct cotton candy smell, and I’m impressed that I got such a strong aroma even before breaking into the cake. Unfortunately my hands are now already uncomfortably slimy and I’m not even eating bacon. Sigh.

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Biting into the cotton concoction is when the fun really begins. The outside sponge cake is the same as always – greasy and mediocre and has my mouth feeling the same as if my shoulders were endlessly shrugging. The bright pink cream filling legitimately tastes like cotton candy and what I imagine poison tastes like.

What starts as a distinct artificial cotton candy flavor that reminds me of one of my favorite ice creams growing up gradually transforms and finishes with a nagging, astringent, and harsh food dye flavor that is downright bad.

The sweet cotton candy flavor is there, and the texture is represented through the general creamy fluffiness of filling, but everything gets completely washed out by the aftertaste, which lingers and resides over second or third bites – if you can make it that far. The taste is so strong it reminds me of trying to eat something sweet immediately after brushing my teeth, and my mouth and mind join forces to let out one resounding NO.

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Simply put, these are not enjoyable to eat – at all. I’ll give props where props are due to Hostess for actually getting cotton candy flavor into the Twinkie, but if that flavor comes with a side dose of cringe-inducing astringency I will pass, and pass hard.

I’m starting to wonder if the people creating these products are even tasting them before they hit the shelves or if they just assume that everyone who consumes these will be high, drunk, or broken. Steer clear of these unless you legitimately like punishing your tastebuds like some sick twisted S&M carnival-themed eating game.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 260 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 340 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 31 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 13.59 oz./10 pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Uhhh…they actually taste like cotton candy? Momentarily? A pretty blue box? I’m reaching here.
Cons: Awful astringent poison-esque aftertaste. Usual mediocre greasy Twinkie cake. I had to buy ten of them.