REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Cake My Day Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Cake My Day Ice Cream

Okay. Ben and Jerry’s has an ice cream name that includes number six on AFI’s 100 movie quotes, Dirty Harry’s “Go ahead, make my day.” Let’s see how I fare with the rest of the top six:

“Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Graham” — Ground up graham crackers, pieces of Clark bars in a vanilla Confederate base.

“An Offer He Can’t Re-fudge” – Orange ice cream swirled with fudge and bits of cannoli.

“I Coulda Been a Gum-tender” – Bubble gum-flavored bits for chewing scenery in a Terry-misu ice cream.

“Not in Kumquat Anymore” — Technicolor swirl of various fruit flavors in a lollipop candy base, conspicuously no kumquat (we’re not in kumquat).

“Here’s Looking at You, Squid” — Squid-flavored ice cream, with squid ink core.

Good job, Kevin. No, great job. So how’s Cake My Day? It’s vanilla cake batter ice cream with vanilla cake pieces, buttercream frosting and raspberry swirl. And did it “cake” my day? “Pie” will “tart” you — and “donut” “streusel” — but it’s a “lemon meringue” “babka” so when there’s “muffin” left, it’s “flan.”

Oh gosh. Sorry about that. Clears throat.

“I will tell you — and do not stress — but it’s a limited batch so when there’s nothing left, it’s gone.”

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Cake My Day Ice Cream 2

The cake is in tiny off-white balls, scattered amongst the creamy, soft ice cream. The buttercream frosting gives it a rich kick and makes the entire thing smell like a frozen cream puff. The raspberry swirl surfs on a wave of cake-y undertones. It features that unmistakable raspberry-in-form-other-than-whole-fruit taste. Is there a word for that phenomenon, like in German?

Anyway, some people might not like that pseudo-pungent, nose-twisty taste, but I think it gives it a decent personality. In fact, it is the only personality in this ice cream. The cake bits give it a good counterbalance of flavor but ultimately the raspberry is the prevailing taste. It’s swirled in there nice for a great visual and is also present in every bite, which gets a tiny bit repetitive as the plainness of the cake batter plateaus out into normal.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Cake My Day Ice Cream 3

It’s a solid, if not sweet, bite of ice cream though. You ever have a birthday cake for an aunt who collects spoons from around the world? She watches Supernatural. She roots for Tom Brady. Her favorite movie is The Notebook and her jeans ride high on her waist. Well, that birthday cake is mashed into an ice cream and it’s this ice cream right here.

Come to think of it, maybe Ben and Jerry aren’t into movie quotes. “Ben and Jerry” rhymes with “Dirty Harry.” Maybe they’re into Clint Eastwood, and will continue Clint Eastwood-related flavor names. I just really hope one of his movies rhymes with “squid.”

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 280 calories, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 55 grams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Cake My Day Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Ice cream balances raspberry flavor well with buttercream base. Tasty and evokes a cake well.
Cons: One note.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Molten Chocolate Macarons

Trader Joe's Molten Chocolate Macarons

Let me guess. It’s a weekday. You’re busy. Too busy.

If you’re lucky you have a whole extra 2 minutes and 45 seconds to put your lasagna in the microwave, take out the trash, put on a cleaner pair of pants, and water the petunias. Wait, do you have a garden??? Who cares. Dump some water somewhere. This is no day for stops. No day for gentle meandering. No day for the 2 hours and waaay too many steps it takes to make a macaron.

Nonetheless, you want one.

So it was for me last Wednesday. Thus, low on blood sugar and pressed for time, my hand did not hesitate when I saw my craving had been sloshed through a Dexter’s Laboratory ray to create some giganto incarnation that may or may not come alive and try to take control of the city. They were huge. They were chocolate. They would be mine.

Trader Joe's Molten Chocolate Macarons 2

First off, let’s get the overgrown, bloated elephant out of the room: the instructions suggest that the reader microwave these pastry beasts.

Resist.

Put your hand down. Step away from the cubic kitchen appliance. Look, I tried using el microondas with one of them and the thing came out with a half exploded, half burnt filling and a soggy cookie. In hindsight, this makes sense: microwaves cook the water inside the cookie. That water turns to steam. Steam makes soggy cookies. Soggy cookies makes puppies cry. Don’t make puppies cry.

Instead, I advise keeping these in the refrigerator and enjoying them at room temp. In this incarnation, the cookies are pretty boss. The outer crust crackles while the inside remains not too puffy and not too squishy in that “just right” way that makes Goldilocks wanna bust a move.

From there, it only gets better. The dark chocolate filling is piled in a hunk of nutty, roasty, fudgy goo whose depth contrasts well with the sweet cocoa cookies and whose richness could knock my Italian grandpa outta his pinstripe suit (love ya, grandpa!).

As if that weren’t enough, that filling is capped with a layer of some sort of nutty paste. Not Nutella, but rather some thick chocolate goo that, from what I can gather, has toasty nutty nubs (are they almonds?).

Sure, it may all be nothing beyond a glorified, high-quality chocolate frosting, but I’m admittedly a sucker for such things. Of course, the nuance of the filling is all lost if you slip these in microwave, so don’t listen to the instructions. The box tells lies. Lies!

Trader Joe's Molten Chocolate Macarons 3

There is an admirable pugnacity about taking something splendid in its ordinary form and making it massive, but, as I learned from that classic box office flop, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, one must approach one’s gigantified power with caution lest chaotic, giant-baby-induced destruction ensue.

Similarly, these cookies have benefits and downfalls in their bulk. On the one hand, you get served an enormous, tip-top, mildly unorthodox chocolate cookie. On the other, said cookie can get overwhelming, overloading you with sugar and richness and lies about putting them in the microwave. Then again, these boulder-sized hunks become pretty grand when eaten defrosted at room temperature, retaining a crisp crust, soft cookie, and rich ganache filling.

Sure, they’re not too spiffy and won’t be replacing Francois Payard anytime soon, but did I mention they’re huge? Huge. If you eat one, you should wait 45 minutes before swimming or waive any complaints of digestive issues.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Macaron – 390 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 39 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein..)

Item: Trader Joe’s Molten Chocolate Macarons
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 2-pack/7 oz.
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Massive. No oven required. Crust on outside. Sweet, soft cookie insides. Nutty, slightly bitter dark chocolate filling. “Pugnacity” is a lovely word. Will make my grandpa jump out of his pinstripe suit.
Cons: May be too massive. A little hum-drum. Microwave gives poor results. The box tells lies. Crying puppies. All that time I wasted watching Honey, I Blew Up the Kid.

QUICK YOGURT REVIEW: Yoplait Plenti Oatmeal Strawberry Greek Yogurt

Yoplait Plenti Oatmeal Strawberry Yogurt

Two things nutritionists might tell us we should eat more of are yogurt and oatmeal. Yoplait combined the two for their Plenti Oatmeal line.

After plunging my spoon into it, the first thing I noticed was how thick it was. Greek yogurt is usually thick, but the oats made it elementary school paste-like. It felt as if stirring would give my wrists a slight workout.

But, thankfully, there’s no need for stirring because the oats are swimming in the yogurt. This results in the oats being a little slimy and chewy. It’s slightly weird, and probably a deal breaker for many of you, but I like to tap into my inner Calvin and pretend I’m eating the eggs of an alien to save humanity.

The yogurt tastes like Yoplait strawberry yogurt, but the oats give it a slight starchiness. There are also several fruit chunks floating around. But they don’t do anything to enhance the strawberry flavor.

Nutritionists would say oatmeal is a good source of fiber, but Yoplait Plenti Oatmeal isn’t that great. It provides only two grams.

Overall, I liked this and, just like with the original Yoplait Plenti, I didn’t mind its texture. The amount of fiber is sad, but the oats make me feel I’m eating something substantial. For many of you the texture will turn you off and I completely understand. But if you enjoy strawberry Greek yogurt that’s feels like you’re chewing on alien eggs and paste, then you might like Yoplait’s Plenti Oatmeal Strawberry Greek Yogurt.

Yoplait Plenti Oatmeal Strawberry Yogurt 2

Purchased Price: $1.79*
Size: 5.5 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 180 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 11 grams of protein, and 10% calcium.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Italian and Greek McTasters (Canada)

McDonald's Italian McTaster

I’m going to admit it: I liked the McPizza.

I ordered it quite a few times during its brief but memorable life, and I mourned for its little pizza soul when it inevitably got pulled from the menu (because let’s face it, pizza at McDonald’s was never going to be a thing, as much as they pushed hard to make it happen).

It’s okay, McPizza: you’re in McDonald’s heaven now, partying with the Super Hero Burger and trading war stories with the McDLT.

So when I heard that McDonald’s was taking another culinary excursion to Italy (and stopping off in Greece for good measure), I got pretty excited. It’s never going to fill the McPizza-sized hole in my heart, but then is anything ever going to fill that hole? No. The answer to that question is no.

McDonald's Italian McTaster 2

Happily, the Italian leg of Ronald McDonald’s European tour was actually pretty satisfying. The Italian McTaster consists of a Junior Chicken patty, topped with lettuce, tomato, parmesan and herb sauce, and parmesan flakes, all on a ciabatta bun (dubbed an “artisan-style bun” in a further attempt by the fast food chains to make the word artisan completely meaningless).

McDonald's Italian McTaster 3

I enjoyed it. The herby, slightly garlicky sauce works in tandem with the salty Parmesan to give the sandwich a nice zingy kick of flavour, and the lettuce and tomato adds some welcome freshness. The chicken was a standard-issue Junior Chicken patty, and the chewy ciabatta bun suited it quite well.

However, like a vacation that doesn’t quite know when to end, the Greek McTaster wraps things up on a sour note.

McDonald's Greek McTaster

It consists of a standard beef patty (the smaller one, not the Quarter Pounder or the Angus) topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion, feta cheese, and Mediterranean olive sauce. It’s basically a Greek salad on a burger, which doesn’t sound like a horrible idea in theory, but the execution is off. Despite the inclusion of assertive flavours like salty feta and briny black olives, the flavour here is oddly muddled and far more muted than you’d think it would be. It’s a half-hearted melange of flavours that never comes together or stands out in any meaningful way.

McDonald's Greek McTaster 2

The mediocre patty doesn’t help matters, though after the uncharacteristically tasty patty in the last McDonald’s burger I reviewed, its badness is actually weirdly comforting. McDonald’s beef shouldn’t taste particularly good; it should be inoffensively lousy, with a dry, crumbly texture and no particular flavour. That’s just the way things are supposed to be.

McDonald's Greek McTaster 3

A patty like that needs the toppings to do the heavy lifting, and the toppings here just aren’t up to the task.

Although the chewy, dense ciabatta bun works quite well in the Italian McTaster, the bun proves to be a little bit too hearty for the diminutive beef patty. It’s overwhelming.

The quality difference between the two McTasters becomes even more pronounced when you have both sandwiches in front of you and you’re alternating between the two. The Italian has a nice contrast of textures, with flavours that really pop. The Greek…does not have those things.

So for those keeping track: the McPizza-sized hole in my heart? Still unfilled. Your move, Ronald. Your move.

(Nutrition Facts – Italian McTaster – 370 calories, 18 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0.2 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 810 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 12 grams of protein. Greek McTaster – 330 calories, 17 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0.4 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 690 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 14 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s Italian and Italian McTasters (Canada)
Purchased Price: $2.99 CAN (each)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Italian)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Greek)
Pros: Italian has a nice combo of crispy chicken and tasty toppings. Chewy bun suits the chicken well.
Cons: Greek features a mediocre patty with bland toppings that can’t quite save it. Chewy bun overwhelms the small hamburger. Profound McPizza-related sadness.

REVIEW: Coke Freestyle Holiday Beverages (Secret Santa, Jolly Reindeer, and Mistletoe Flow)

oke Freestyle Holiday Beverages

Gather ‘round, all you Tiny Tims, Little Lisas, and Miniature Mitchells, and I’ll tell you about how ol’ Ebenezer Dan was visited by three new, carbonated Christmas Cokes during his latest Burger King trip.

As an idealist who insists that each December should be blanketed in snow (and pigs in blankets, but that’s a story for another day), I’ve been bah-humbugging my area’s lack of that magical sky sugar.

Turning to my local holiday radio station for inspiration, the unintentional subliminal advertising within “Hark! The Herald Angel Sings” soon had me driving to the nearest BK to quench my thirst with the chain’s three limited edition, seasonal Coca-Cola flavors. That’s right: I was ready to sing glory to the new-poured Burger King.

I placed my drinks-only order with my Burger King bartender, whose confused expression clearly read, “Gee, I sure hope this isn’t one of those Internet pranks where dumb teens throw soda at typically non-soda covered objects.”

Her confusion intensified as I proceeded to take photos of the Coke Freestyle machine that harbored my sought-after soda behind its newfangled touch screen. After touching the appropriately merry buttons, I was presented with three tempting options.

Coke Secret Santa

First up was Secret Santa: the Coke of Christmas Past. This drink earns that title by tasting like every mad scientist concoction of leftover sodas that my cousins and I mixed together as young’ns. The overwhelming taste notes are a seamless cocktail of cola, cherry, and vanilla. It feels like the flavors were unceremoniously dumped together, as it’s hard to distinguish between the candied cherry and syrupy vanilla sensations that blend together like a liquid fruitcake.

Sorry for that mental image.

So while the middle is a bit muddled in this one, the lime twist that comes with the aftertaste is pleasantly citrusy with a subtle sourness. It lasts, too: limey tendrils continued to wander aimlessly around my labyrinthine mouth like a fruity Theseus (that mythology class is finally paying off!).

Coke Jolly Reindeer

While the other flavors are available in most restaurant Freestyle machines, Jolly Reindeer seems to be a BK exclusive. This Coke of Christmas Present gets its name by embodying a very irritating modern trend in which companies simply slap two existing things together and call it “New!” “Revolutionary!” or, worst of all, “Mystery Flavored!”

Because there’s no mystery here: the enigmatic “festive blend” of Jolly Reindeer tastes just like Coke mixed with vanilla root beer. It’s tasty, don’t get me wrong, but it makes me imagine an emergency, last minute marketing brainstorming session that ended with a hastily scrawled sticky note reading “DEER = Sounds like BEER? Yes: do it!”

I have to admit that Coke and root beer make great cup-fellows, though. As I chugged down my gingery cola, I noticed a sophisticated herbal and woody aftertaste, as if Jolly Reindeer were barrel-aged and half the cedar barrel came with it. Bravo, Jolly Reindeer: you made me feel like a lumberjack Santa Claus.

Coke Zero Mistletoe Flow

My final visitor was Mistletoe Flow. As the Coke of Christmas Future, the Coke Zero base of this drink symbolizes all of the diet drinks I’ll be drinking in the near future to justify the Santa-sized portions of gingerbread men I’ll be sliding down my own face chimney.

Like most diet colas, the body of the drink tastes a bit diluted, light, and artificial. However, the vanilla here makes up for it—unlike the syrupy vanilla smack of Secret Santa, Mistletoe Flow boasts denser notes of genuine vanilla extract.

Beneath the vanilla, I struggled to decipher what the drink’s “zesty blend” was. Coming up empty-handed and full-stomached, all I could think was that it tasted an awful lot like those cola bottle gummies, which have a more puckering and exaggeratedly caramelized cola flavor. And as someone who often dreams of sucking down liquefied cola bottle gummies through a straw, this is a high compliment.

So all in all, each limited edition Coke offering presents a fun holiday present, and each would make a perfect gift for a certain personality. What do you get for the person who has everything? Give ‘em a taste of everything with Secret Santa’s fruity mixology. Got a Ron Swanson-themed holiday party coming up? Go with Jolly Reindeer’s down-to-earth charm (my personal favorite). Oh, and I’m sure your Haribo-loving HariBro will love Mistletoe Flow.

After my invigorating series of visits, this Scrooge is now feeling merry once more. I should probably stop listening to the radio when I’m hungry, though. Because now B.B. King has me dreaming, of a Whiiiteee…Castle!

(Nutrition Facts – Not available.)

Item: Coca-Cola Secret Santa, Jolly Reindeer, and Mistletoe Flow
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 20 oz (small)
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Secret Santa)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Jolly Reindeer)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Mistletoe Flow)
Pros: A vanilla-y trilogy of holiday fun. Lime-flavored Greek heroes. Three cheers for deer beer: here here! Fulfilling gummy cola fantasies
Cons: Metaphorical liquid fruitcakes. Literal liquid fruitcakes (probably). Drinking flatter colas to get a flatter stomach. Inevitable post-gingerbread man regret. Pissing off the kids behind me at the Freestyle machine

QUICK ENERGY DRINK REVIEW: Rockstar Pure Zero Watermelon Energy Drink

Rockstar Pure Zero Watermelon Energy Drink

Rockstar’s Pure Zero Watermelon Energy Drink has 240 milligrams of caffeine, so this review will have 240 words.

When I think of large fruits with lots of seeds that are popular this time of year, I think of pumpkin. But it appears Rockstar Energy thinks of watermelon. Of course, a pumpkin-flavored energy drink sounds gross, so I think Rockstar picked the right fruit for their new energy drink.

The Pure Zero line gets its name because it has zero calories and sugar. It also has zero fat, zero protein, and lots of zeroes in the 100 percent values of B vitamins it has. And, of course, there’s the zero in the 240 milligrams of caffeine it has (play Motley Crue’s “Jumpstart My Heart” intro here).

As for its flavor, imagine a watermelon slice that’s not quite ripe. Then imagine taking a bite from that slice from the side and getting a bit too much of the melon’s white part. Now imagine an artificial and candified version of that flavor and you’ll get an idea of what this energy drink tastes like. There are also moments when it has an artificial sour apple flavor.

I know my description doesn’t make it sound that good, and I didn’t care for the first few sips, but its flavor grew on me. Maybe my tastebuds are weird. Or maybe it’s the huge jolt of caffeine making me type this, but I enjoyed its flavor.

Rockstar Pure Zero Watermelon Energy Drink 2

Purchased Price: 2 for $3.00
Size: 16 oz. cans
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (8 fl. oz) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 100% niacin, 100% vitamin B12, 100% vitamin B6, and 100% pantothenic acid.