REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core Ice Cream

Coffee is a wonderful thing. It makes mornings tolerable, goes great with donuts, and gives kopi luwak farmers a reason to sift through civet poop.

It’s also incredibly addictive. Sure, coffee might provide you with a much-needed energy boost, but before you know it, you’ll be poppin’ caffeine pills and belting out songs by The Pointer Sisters.

Nevertheless, I’m so excited to see what coffee can do when partnered with chocolate and caramel in Ben & Jerry’s Boom Chocolatta. Part of the new line of Cookie Core ice creams, this flavor features a chocolate cookie butter core surrounded by mocha and caramel ice creams, sprinkled with chocolate cookie bits and fudge flakes.

When I first heard the name “Boom Chocolatta,” I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, it sounds a lot like an awful catchphrase I would have shamelessly overused in high school. I can just imagine signing everyone’s yearbooks with it. “Yo Derrick. Give ‘em hell at DeVry University. BOOM CHOCOLATTA.”

Ben & Jerry's Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core Ice Cream 2

Peeling back the lid reveals the two ice cream flavors conjoined by a precious cookie core. The mocha half possesses a bold coffee flavor with a more subtle hint of chocolate. In comparison, the caramel ice cream tastes tame. I had to really focus to detect its highly understated caramel flavor. When paired with the mocha, the caramel’s more reserved flavor brings balance to each spoonful.

The fudge flakes and chocolate cookie pieces mixed throughout add an occasional smidgen of chocolate flavor, but are negligible alongside the real star of the show: the chocolate cookie core.

Ben & Jerry's Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core Ice Cream 3

Lightly crunchy and deeply rich, the core offers a chocolate sweetness akin to finely crushed Oreo cookies, but with a darker chocolate flavor. In fact, when the core is eaten alone, it seems too rich, but this flaw fades beside the mocha and caramel ice creams. Texturally, the cookie core is far more solid than a jarred cookie butter and has a grainy consistency. It’s not as spreadable as a cookie butter, but it’s scoopable — even straight from the freezer. And trust me, you’ll be scooping this cookie butter harder than Scoop Doggy Dogg himself. He’s a rapper, right?

As I dug deeper and deeper into the carton, I was dismayed to discover the pint contained less cookie core than I had hoped. And why was it sitting at an awkward angle, offset from the center of the carton? My cookie core was nowhere near as glorious as the illustrations had implied. I’m sure Ben and Jerry could have been a little more generous with their cookie butter.

Ben & Jerry's Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core Ice Cream 4

Still, Boom Chocolatta is a favorable addition to Ben & Jerry’s line of Core ice creams. Sometimes, an entire pint of coffee ice cream is just too much coffee flavor, and that’s exactly why Boom Chocolatta excels: the caramel ice cream and cookie core add enough variety to keep things interesting down to the last spoonful, and no single bite feels repetitive. I just wish Ben & Jerry’s hadn’t been so stingy with the cookie core. It was a bit of a letdown — just like when I found out Sir Mix-a-Lot was never actually knighted.

I dunno, I thought Queen Elizabeth just really liked his song about butts. Gimme a break, okay?

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 290 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Boom Chocolatta! Cookie Core Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Strongly flavored mocha ice cream. Rich cookie core complements both ice cream flavors. Saved By The Bell references.
Cons: Weakly flavored caramel ice cream. Not enough core. The fact that I mentioned Sir Mix-a-Lot in this review.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies

This is everything the trainers, cardiologists, and armchair psychologists warned me about. Why? Well…

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies Tower

(You still here?)

To the three of you who you haven’t sprinted for your keys, I’ll do my best use some adjectives that describe the above cookie sandwiches, photographed just moments before they were ingested. If you head for your local Trader Joe’s via car/bus/ferry/personal helicopter before you make it to the end, I won’t blame you.

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies Topless

Despite the sudden population boom in biscuit-based spreads, the cookie butter Trader Joe’s implements here holds tight to tradition, using the familiar cinnamon caramel flavors found in Speculoos cookies. The goo is a little thicker than peanut butter, but not quite as stiff as an Oreo creme. The spread separates from the cookie swiftly when twisting and remains as tasty as I remember in that special caramelized-frosting way. But the real kicker? Comes with the shortbread.

Salty, sugary, and sandy as a renegade drifter, the buttery shortbread breaks with a crisp bite before it crumbles and dissolves under its own weight. Darwin surely would’ve been fascinated to hear my post-first-bite monologue of, “Yum. Cookie. More. Yum,” as I’m fairly certain it brings into question humanity’s ability to linguistically evolve…or perhaps this is just me? Am I de-evolving?? And what will I do when I become a monkey?? If these cookies have anything to do with it, I’ll be eating shortbread.

Despite the Super Wonderful that is this cookie, I’m a little conflicted. This is the third cookie butter product I’ve reviewed in the past 12 months. Trader Joe… are you using cookie butter as a crutch? Maybe even surfing on a… (gulp)…trend??

Now, no lies: it’s a very, very tasty crutch, but, as my ski instructor said to me back when I was a poorly coordinated 10-year-old, one never learns if one always takes the Bunny Slope. Sometimes, you gotta strap on your skis and rocket down the double-black diamond at 50 miles per hour without a helmet.* You may crash, lose a glove, and bonk into a California pine, but you’ll learn from the wipeout.

*This is a lie. You should always wear a helmet, silly.

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies Mug

But who am I kidding? These are delicious. I’m knocking them a little for being trendy, for not having a re-sealable bag, and for making my arteries sad with the box’s 216% of my saturated fat, but, let’s face it: neither health nor coolness are what you keep in mind when eating these. What you keep in mind is joy. Pure, unobstructed joy. And Trader Joe? You’ve succeeded in that.

So, dear reader. will you twist? Nibble from the outside in? Dip in milk or not? One at a time or gulf down a pile of five? There are a lot of ways people will tell you to eat these, all stress-inducing and rife with contradictions. I say ignore them and enjoy your cookie.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 180 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 10 oz. box
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Classic cookie butter. Crumbly. Buttery. Sandy. A little crispy. Renegade drifters.
Cons: Dangerously trendy. Not in a re-sealable bag. 214% Saturated Fat in one box. Ski accidents. Knocking into a California pine. Cardiologists. Turning into a monkey via de-evolution.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Peanut Butter Half Baked Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Peanut Butter Half Baked

There are only a few combinations that can excite me as much as binge watching Netflix documentaries while lounging in my UGG slippers, and peanut butter and chocolate is one of them. It can be in the form of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (although I’m boycotting Hershey right now over this whole Cadbury ordeal), some kind of pastry, ice cream, anything really. Heck, I’d be happy smearing peanut butter from a jar onto a chocolate bar.

It’s hard to go wrong with PB and chocolate. It’s also hard to let it go. Whenever that last bite occurs and our time together comes to an end, I’m left alone, with a longing for more as Player’s “Baby Come Back” plays softly in my head.

Even though the loneliness and longing follows, I had to give Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Half Baked Ice Cream a try. It’s kind of an obvious twist on a classic that I’m honestly surprised is just now being done. But obviousness is trumped by deliciousness, which is the case here.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Peanut Butter Half Baked Top

The vanilla ice cream and cookie dough in the original Half Baked are replaced by peanut butter ice cream and peanut butter cookie dough. And I’ll state right now that I’m not going to say one is better than the other, but since this is a Limited Batch I don’t think the ice cream gurus at Ben and Jerry’s will be taking the original Half Baked out behind the shed and putting it out of its misery.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Peanut Butter Half Baked innards

Anyways, the peanut butter and chocolate ice creams blend together quite nicely – shocker. The peanut butter ice cream is a bit richer than it normally is in Ben and Jerry’s, and it packs a big flavor.

However, while the flavors blended well, I found the ice cream mix to be a bit inconsistent. I had two pints, and both times I found that there’s always some point in my and my spoon’s journey to the bottom of the container where the chocolate ice cream becomes the dominant presence, and peanut butter takes a backseat.

This was vexing, since it’s nice to have the consistent opportunity to get a bite that is equal parts PB and chocolate ice creams. Thankfully this problem doesn’t resonate with the brownie pieces and cookie dough globs. They are quite common throughout the pint, and if anybody is complaining there wasn’t enough… Well, then they’re a Greedy Greg.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Peanut Butter Half Baked PB Cookie Dough

The peanut butter cookie dough is hands down the highlight of the ice cream. It tastes like those simple yet delicious peanut butter cookies we’ve all had at one point, and they are huge. And I mean HUGE. Like, huge where you’ll wonder if the cookie dough was injected with some kind of steroid. Though we know it’s not, since Ben and Jerry’s is all about fair trade, using eggs from cage-free chickens, and rBGH-free milk. But, in the offshoot chance there was a steroid injection, I’m not complaining.

The brownies are also good-sized as well. They have a rich, fudge-y flavor and are softer and chewier than I remember the original Half Baked ones to be.

I told myself not to get attached to this one, since, being a Limited Batch, it’s merely a fleeting affair, but damn it, we can only be so strong! I’ve allowed Peanut Butter Half Baked not only into my life, but into my soul, my very being. I’ve morphed into a modern Sméagol, with a pint of ice cream serving as The One Ring. I haven’t had a pint in a couple days now, and I’m feeling it. I break out in cold sweats, get all itchy, and punch people in random fits of anger.

Yep, time for a return trip to ice cream rehab.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 280 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, 10% calcium, and 8% iron.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Peanut Butter Half Baked Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Wegmans
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Ice creams blend well together. Brownie and peanut butter cookie dough are plentiful, and cookie dough pieces are HUGE. Watching Netflix documentaries while lounging in UGG slippers.
Cons: Chocolate ice cream can be dominating at times. Is a limited batch. Getting cold turkey symptoms from ice cream withdrawal. Hershey denying us Cadbury chocolate.

REVIEW: Reese’s Spreads

Reese's PB Choc Spread

The challenge is issued, the gloves are dropped, the physicians wait at the sidelines, ready to dress the wounds of the wounded. Who will stand above: the candy or the spread? The Modernist or the Traditionalist? Call the bluff. Claim your honor. The pistols are loaded.

Reese's PB Choc Spread Reese's Traditionalist

With cat-like reflexes, the Traditionalist makes the first move. The Reese’s candy ever remains a classic, the very foundation upon which all peanut butter candies attempt to stand. It sharpens its brass knuckles on its well-grounded history: the gritty, crumbly peanut butter insides, the hyper-sweet, milk chocolatey outsides, all nestled away in its charming paper cup. I can’t even keep it around long enough to consider if it’s less than perfect.

But then…

Reese's PB Choc Spread Reese's PB Choc Spread is made of Goodness

Stronger than a 3-horsed chariot driven by Ron Swanson, the spread busts out with a perfume of peanut butter and chocolate. Smooth, shiny, a smidge gritty from itty candy chunkies, this Righteous Goodness combines all the textural traits of a nut butter with the classic chocolate-and-honeyed-peanut-butter taste of its candy contender.

With a flavor that combines peanut butter, Nutella, and sweetened condensed milk, it’s easy to eat from the jar or spread on those 48 leftover Christmas cookies from the office party. It goes on toast. It goes on waffles. It goes on ice cream. It would make an easy job for marketers conspiring to brainwash humankind with a catchy jingle that would subconsciously influence us [i.e.: me] to buy more of it. I already blame my subconscious for the excessive number of jars I will be purchasing in the future.

Reese's PB Choc Spread Reese's Spread is trying to hypnotize you

So the shots have been fired, the dust has cleared, the cowboy audience got bored and returned to the Tavern to nurse their beer bellies. But which product emerged victorious?

Reese's PB Choc Spread Reese's duel finale-which wins?

When you’re in a duel, you are acutely interested in NOT dying, so why kill your fellow compatriot? If you shoot, s/he may very well fire in return, rupturing your aorta and, well…sayonara to that vacation to Puerto Rico. Both versions of Reese’s realize this and offer their respective qualities. One, a munchable, melty candy. The other, a smooth, chocolatey peanut spread that integrates well with anything you consider suited for peanut butter. Me? I prefer something that I can carry around in my pocket, but, dang if this spread isn’t delicious.

Perhaps more importantly, the spread proves an important point: that, despite its long history, peanut butter and chocolate live in the gullet of the confectionary world with justifiable cause. The salty-sweet combination, combined with a gritty, sugared goodness, fills a special pocket of the stomach without overwhelming. It punches you and embraces you at the same time. Like a good man hug. And what better way to start the year than with a good man hug?

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp – 190 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Reese’s Spreads
Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 13 oz. jar
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Sugary. Chocolatey. Peanut-buttery. Nubbins of candy/chunky peanut butter stirred in. Tastes just like spreadable Reese’s. 3-horsed chariots driven by Ron Swanson. Beer-bellied cowboys. Man hugs.
Cons: May induce sugar rush. May induce buying too many jars. May induce lack of pantry space after buying too many jars. Not quite as awesome as the candy, but still very awesome. Reminder that those leftover Christmas cookies are very, very stale. Catchy jingles that get stuck in your head. Vacations in Puerto Rico that don’t exist.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Crunchwrap Sliders (Beefy Cheddar, Spicy Chicken, and BLT)

Taco Bell Crunchwrap Sliders

The Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme is the greatest Taco Bell menu item ever and I hope the people who developed it have their portraits or busts displayed throughout the halls of Taco Bell headquarters. If you disagree and try to tell me why it isn’t, I will use a yapping chihuahua to drown you out.

Despite it being awesome and on the menu for almost a decade, the Crunchwrap hasn’t seen much variety. There’s been a spicy chicken version here and breakfast versions there, but it hasn’t gotten the same treatment from Taco Bell’s tacologists that their burritos and tacos have over the years. So it’s nice to see Taco Bell’s new Crunchwrap Sliders make their way onto menu boards, although for a limited time.

The Crunchwrap Sliders come in three varieties: Beefy Cheddar, Spicy Chicken, and BLT. They’re only a dollar at most locations, five inches wide, hexagon-shaped, contain Fritos corn chips, and if I was a taco ninja they would be my throwing stars. According to the sleeve each one comes in, besides the preset varieties, it’s possible to create custom orders, so let this mini taco frisbee be your canvas.

Taco Bell Beefy Cheddar Crunchwrap Slider

The Beefy Cheddar Crunchwrap Slider comes with seasoned ground beef, nacho cheese sauce, cheddar cheese, and Fritos corn chips in a grilled flour tortilla. Taco Bell’s nacho cheese sauce is made using cheddar cheese so I’m not sure why more cheddar is included and I don’t know how anyone other than supertasters could point out the cheddar in the Crunchwrap.

Seasoned ground beef and nacho cheese sauce has been a winning combination for Taco Bell. I could list all the Taco Bell products that have them, but this review would be even more unnecssarily longer than usual. It’s a combo that makes my taste buds happy, but it’s beginning to get a little old. It’s also a combo that does a great job at making Fritos soggy. Granted, it had to sit though a five-minute car ride and three-minute photoshoot before they were consumed, but so did the other two varieties and the Fritos in them were mostly straight-from-the-bag crunchy.

Taco Bell Spicy Chicken Crunchwrap Slider

The Spicy Chicken Crunchwrap Slider is stuffed with shredded, marinated all-white meat chicken, creamy chipotle sauce, and Fritos chips. If I gave an award to the saddest looking Crunchwrap Slider I received, I would pin a sad face on the Spicy Chicken. The chicken was dry and, compared with the other two, it didn’t look like there was much filling. If it weren’t for the Fritos, it would’ve looked even sadder. Of course, your results will vary. But, thanks to the smoky chipotle sauce, it had some decent flavor, and the chips were still crunchy. For those of you who are excited to see the word “spicy” in its name, I’m going to pop your pepper and tell you it’s not.

Taco Bell BLT Crunchwrap Slider

The BLT Crunchwrap Slider was the one I was least looking forward to because I’m not a fan of the bacon bits they use, which I’ve experienced with Taco Bell’s Waffle Tacos. Along with the bacon, it comes with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado ranch sauce, and Fritos in a flour tortilla.

Surprisingly, this Crunchwrap Slider was my favorite of the bunch, although it was also the messiest of the bunch thanks to the bacon bits, tomatoes, and shredded lettuce not being able to fight gravity. The bacon bits were front and center in terms of flavor because there were a lot of them. It’s as if someone went a little too vertical with the bacon bits bottle. The slightly tangy avocado ranch sauce works well with the other ingredients and it does help with cutting the saltiness of the bacon. Besides messiness, the lettuce adds a little bit of crunch. As a whole, it tastes like I’m eating a sandwich with chips on top.

Overall, l enjoyed all the Crunchwrap Sliders. They aren’t filling, but anything you can pay for with loose change shouldn’t be. They’re available for a limited time, but I believe they should be a regular menu item.

(Nutrition Facts – Beefy Chedar – 410 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 960 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein. Spicy Chicken – 400 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 900 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein. BLT – 430 calories, 210 calories from fat, 23 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 900 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Crunchwrap Sliders (Beefy Cheddar, Spicy Chicken, and BLT)
Purchased Price: $1.69*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Beefy Cheddar)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Spicy Chicken)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (BLT)
Pros: $1 at most locations. Fritos were able to maintain crunchiness in the Spicy Chicken and BLT varieties. Despite my previous negative experience with Taco Bell’s bacon, I enjoyed the BLT the most. Crunchwrap Supreme is the greatest Taco Bell menu item.
Cons: Fritos got soggy in the Beefy Cheddar. BLT version is messy. Beefy Cheddar has a too familiar flavor profile. Spicy Chicken wasn’t spicy. Limited time only.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay just a dollar for each.