REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Flip Chocolate Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Flavor Flip Chocolate Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s are ending their year of flavor flipping by taking their most far out creation to the dark side of the moon. Chocolate Cherry Garcia takes the classic Cherry Garcia flavor and swaps the cherry cream with more chocolate for the most perfectly harmonious of blackouts you can buy in scoop form. The flavor isn’t available in grocery stores yet and is in Scoop Shops for a limited time.

The first thing that struck me about Chocolate Cherry Garcia is the rich dark color of the ice cream itself. Sitting in the cold case next to the other flavors it looked more black than brown; a color I would associate with brownies or fudge more than cherries, but that’s certainly not a bad thing.

Going in for my first spoonful I was surprised the ice cream was pure chocolate and not chocolate-cherry because the slightly tart floral flavor of cherry came through unmistakably in a bite with no mix-ins. This must be the effect of the cherries themselves, juicy little devils they are, bleeding their wonderful flavor into the base.

Once you get a cherry, which is most of the time, the flavor really starts to sing. The big chunks of half-cherries swimming in chocolate make up a prominent amount of the ice cream and feel like downing the triumphant top of a sundae over and over again. Even though it’s not a holiday flavor, the melty choco-cherry combination reminds me of a cherry cordial and tastes festive and fancy – a reminder that simple ingredients can often yield grand results.

Ben & Jerry's Flavor Flip Chocolate Cherry Garcia Ice Cream 2

The “fudge flakes” here, just like in the original Cherry Garcia, are actually just chocolate chunks, nothing fudgey or flakey about them at all. The name is misleading, but the snap of the chips is very welcome against the sweet squish of the cherries, and make for a nice textural contrast to the creamy chocolate and juicy fruit. Three straight forward elements and they all have a chance to shine.

While not pushing the boundaries of ice cream experimentation by any means, Ben & Jerry’s have managed to put a very convincing spin on what is maybe their most well known and beloved flavor. The small change from cherry ice cream to chocolate provides a completely different and decadent scoop experience that is well balanced, rich, and exactly what my waistline doesn’t need the week after Thanksgiving.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup (109g) – 260 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams sat fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 4 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $6.25
Size: 1 handpacked pint
Purchased at: Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Wonderful bright cherry flavor. Three distinct textures. Swimming in decadence.
Cons: High potential for blackouts. Not what waistline needs after Thanksgiving.

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

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Confetti Cake Ice Cream

I decided that it was only fitting to celebrate my birthday early with Ben & Jerry’s Confetti Cake Ice Cream especially since one of my favorite things in the world is Yellow Confetti Cake a la Pillsbury – with all the confetti frosting and confetti fixin’s, of course!

When I peeled off the lid, there was something about the brightly-colored Fruity Pebble-colored confetti that made me real giddy. After taking only a couple of seconds to admire its beauty, I dug in immediately. I was very satisfied by the ice cream’s scoopability. There’s nothing more annoying than having to chip away at ice cream that has frozen over like an ice block, but Ben & Jerry’s usually never does wrong in this department.

Unfortunately and fortunately, the Confetti Cake Ice Cream tasted more like a crappy supermarket confetti cupcake. You know the ones that I’m talking about – the 12-pack of cupcakes in clear packaging located in the bakery section next to the equally crappy sugar cookies. I use the word “crappy” in an endearing way because there’s something I love about them; maybe it’s the nostalgia factor of eating one too many in elementary school.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Confetti Cake Ice Cream 2

The ice cream reminded me of supermarket cupcakes for two reasons. First, it tasted overwhelmingly like vanilla confetti frosting. Like your first bite into a supermarket cupcake, you usually just get a mouthful of frosting because the ratio of frosting to cupcake is way off. Second, because you’re basically eating straight frosting, there’s a greasy mouthfeel that accompanies your first bite. I was quite bewildered at how I was picking up that greasy, rich feel. Was it just in my head? How the heck does Ben & Jerry’s do that with ice cream?

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Confetti Cake Ice Cream 3

As I continued to carve confetti caverns into the pint, I felt underwhelmed by the cake pieces. I could barely taste them through the vanilla confetti frosting taste. Also, it didn’t seem to add anything to the overall texture because the confetti bits themselves already added a slight crunch.

I will say that adult-me prefers eating Ben & Jerry’s Confetti Cake Ice Cream over supermarket cupcakes. Seems like a win – I get all the nostalgia without having to eat an actual crappy cupcake. But, I think a touch of yellow cake would help to break up the vanilla frosting monotony – think cake batter and confetti cake having an ice cream baby. I ended my early birthday celebration with a confetti-cake-frosting-flavored burp. Shout out to my fellow November babies!

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 280 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 9 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, and 10% calcium.)

Purchased Price: $4.28
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Imitation is the finest form of flattery – all the crappy supermarket confetti cupcake taste without having to actually eat a crappy cupcake. Great scoopability.
Cons: Tastes exactly like crappy supermarket confetti cupcakes. Cake pieces were gratuitous. Yellow Cake > Vanilla Cake.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Pecan Sticky Buns Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Pecan Sticky Buns Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s flavors that are exclusive to one store or area carry a strong sense of injustice, for me at least. I saw a flavor last year that was exclusive to Texas. It’s like, hey, what’s wrong with (insert other 49 states here)!? You think you’re better than us?

Driving to Texas for an exclusive flavor is one thing, but it’s frustrating enough when I can’t go to my precious Wegmans to get a certain flavor and I have to go to a Target or Walmart instead. Bleh!

Even though Pecan Sticky Buns sounded really enticing, the thought of going to a Walmart in Rochester sounded anything but. I don’t think I’d been to one in a good two years. I hadn’t had sticky buns in a few years either, not since the last time I attended an adult caramel party. Think of the party from Eyes Wide Shut, only a lot weirder and with a lot more caramel.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Pecan Sticky Buns Ice Cream 2

With this ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s did a really good job with getting certain flavors of an actual sticky bun down. The buttery brown sugar ice cream was pretty accurate. You definitely get a strong brown sugar flavor with this. I know because I used to pour a pound of brown sugar into my oatmeal when I was little.

There are chunks of sticky bun dough to further nail the brown swirly ooey-gooey parts of the sticky buns. You know what I mean. The sticky bun dough chunks were exactly like the cinnamon bun dough chunks from Ben & Jerry’s Cinnamon Bun flavor, which I’m not even sure is a flavor anymore. I know they have different names, but I’m suspicious they were the same exact chunks. Think they tried to sneak one by us here.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Pecan Sticky Buns Ice Cream 3

The pecans were ridiculously flavorful. They appeared to be normal pecans but they tasted like those cinnamon roasted one you get at a baseball game or festival. They had that boiled in something sweet taste and it is pretty magnificent. I mean, there are not many things that wouldn’t be delicious if you boiled them in cinnamon. I bet Hannibal Lector boiled some of his victims in cinnamon before going to Chowtown. I just know there’s a deleted scene of that. Probably.

Lastly, there’s a cream cheese frosting swirl whose presence in a bite will always surprise you because it blends in perfectly with the ice cream. The swirls aren’t very thick, which was nice because you don’t get surprise flavor slammed by cream cheese, and they are a nice touch as they take you away from the cinnamon taste for a second.

Overall, it’s a good concoction, but it is SUPER rich, even for Ben & Jerry’s. I’ve had other exclusive Walmart flavors, but they were subpar (I’m looking at you, Cotton Candy). This one was worth the trip.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 300 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of total fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 23 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.09
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Has flavors very reminiscent of real pecan sticky bun. Adult caramel parties.
Cons: A bit too rich. Having to go to Walmart to get it. Ben & Jerry’s exclusive flavor injustice.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Empower Mint Ice Cream

Ben & Jerrry's Empower Mint

What’s that old adage about pizza and sex? I think it’s something like, “Hey, both of these things are good, even when the quality is less than ideal.” Well, ice cream is sort of the same way. I mean, when was the last time you took a large spoonful of ice cream and immediately spit it out in disgust? Never, that’s when.

But that’s not to say that all ice cream is necessarily created equal, either.

Eschewing brick and mortar operations where your cone is packed by a surly teen, and the potentially terrifying experience that comes with purchasing something from a rusty truck piloted by an angry man of some vague, eastern European origin, one is left with the dizzying array of options from the local supermarket.

As a generally indecisive person, the ice cream aisle cripples me. So I just always go with what I know: Ben and Jerry’s. The two cordial hippies from Vermont really do make a fine ice cream. Really, it’s hard to find a bad entry in their catalogue. They’ve made an art-form — and a gajillion dollars —- out of something simple: quality ingredients melded together masterfully in interesting ways with complete disregard for the health of the partaker.

God bless them, I reckon, for giving the people what they want.

And EMPOWER mint (that’s how it’s spelled on the label, anyway) is no different. The packaging explains that it is “peppermint ice cream with fudge brownies and fudge swirls,” and brother, that packaging ain’t lying.

Ben & Jerrry's Empower Mint 2

Pulling the top off is like crashing your car into a candy cane factory and it only gets more insane from there. The base cream is exactly what you’d expect: an overPOWERing amount of mint (haha, get it?). And, as a fan of mint ice cream —- typically featuring chocolate chips, though -— I enjoyed this aspect. Your mileage may very.

Not too far beneath the surface, you’ll encounter something chewy and dense and absurdly chocolaty… this is the brownie. It sticks your teeth together and makes your heart hurt, and man, is that good brownie chunkage.

Interspersed between the mint and the brownie explosion are delectable teases of fudge ribbon. It tastes like hot fudge, only not hot and a little less pliable.

Ben & Jerrry's Empower Mint 3

Everything in this ice cream works together toward the greater good: giving the recipient a terrible stomachache after imbibing far too much. And maybe that’s the point? Freedom of choice? This ice cream carries some sort of political agenda, as many of B and J’s treats do. The label proclaims “Democracy is in your hands,” and that’s true enough, I guess.

If I had some sort of vote pertaining to his particular iteration, though, it might be: let’s add some kind of nut, dudes. Because, really, that’s my only complaint. Everything is smooth, creamy, and soft. Why not chuck in some chopped walnuts? The texture variation would provide a welcome break and, I mean, don’t all sane people like nuts on or in their brownies?

In the end, though, this is a minor quibble and EMPOWER mint is just fine on its own. Although it doesn’t seem like rocket science to combine mint ice cream and gigantic, pulsating hunks of brownie (oh, and the fudge swirls), I guess nobody had really done it before. Kudos, gents, enjoy your next million.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 270 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 26 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: 2 for $7
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Delightful. The Full Minty. Super Brownied. Cures what ails you.
Cons: Richer than the people who make it. Holy fat, calories, etc. Could use some sort of crunch, maybe.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

Ben & Jerry’s flavor gurus have wizarded four new Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert flavors: Chunky Monkey, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Coffee Fudge Caramel, and P.B. & Cookies. Yes, autocorrect keeps reminding me that “wizarded” is not a real verb but the flavor gurus’ work is food magic.

While my body is still processing lactose like a champ, I have many friends who can no longer enjoy lactose-filled foods – even with Lactaid! But, is Ben & Jerry’s giving my lactose-intolerant friends the real deal with this Non-Dairy innovation? I’m particularly skeptical of Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey because it’s a brazen move to try to replicate a tried & true flavor.

There’s only one way to settle it – a good ole taste-off.

As I open both pints and get ready to dig in, Rocky IV flashes before me. Regular Chunky Monkey is Rocky – now wildly successful and the crowd-pleasing favorite. It used to be the underdog because banana ice cream isn’t OG like vanilla or chocolate. Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey is Ivan Drago – designed to perform and to mirror the best of the best.

*DING DING DING*

The first round, taste, goes to regular Chunky Monkey. Unlike the full-fat Chunky Monkey, Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey doesn’t have a creamy buffer so the banana flavor is reminiscent of banana-flavored Runts. Runts were one of the worst candies in the childhood trick-o-treat plunder and of course, the banana-shaped runt was the worst flavor of them all. It’s not looking so hot for Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey.

Chunky Monkey and Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey are neck-and-neck in Round Two – texture. Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey takes the win. Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey’s overall texture is surprisingly identical to the regular Chunky Monkey. How is Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert made with almond milk?! Vegan ice creams are typically made with fattier substances like cashew milk or coconut milk. I don’t know what kind of almond milk Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield drink but the almond milk in my fridge is most closely related to murky water. ALMOND MILK SORCERY!!!

Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert 2
(L – Non-Dairy, R – Regular)

Round Three, mix-ins, is a swift win for regular Chunky Monkey. Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey’s packaging claims that it’s “so boldly loaded with chunks & swirls.” While I can clearly see the superior distribution of the fudge chunks and walnut pieces in Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey, the Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey fudge chunks have a sandy texture and are also less deliciously rich. It’s a rookie error of quantity over quality – tsk, tsk Non-Dairy!

Instead of ring girls holding up round cards, it’s just me holding up two spoons – alternating bites of ice cream and Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert at lightning speed. Brain freeze? Yep, numerous times.  

Now, we’re in the 15th & final round (and I’m finally almost done with both pints). Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey goes the distance; it’s not melting as quickly as regular Chunky Monkey. Regular Chunky Monkey is puddling into pools while Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey is melty but definitely looks more solid.  

Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert 3

The taste-off is over and it’s a close call. Regular Chunky Monkey edges out Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey. However, like Rocky & Drago, Chunky Monkey & Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey can co-exist! While Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey is not an exact replica of the regular Chunky Monkey, it’s pretty damn close.

As a lactose-lovin’ gal, Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey wouldn’t be my go-to because it doesn’t have the full-fat richness, fragrance. But, some Ben & Jerry’s is better than no Ben & Jerry’s; Non-Dairy is a really great option for lactose intolerant/vegan folks. Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey Frozen Dessert won’t be in the Flavor Graveyard any time soon.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 260 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.79
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Vons
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Almond Milk Sorcery!!! Superior distribution of the good stuff. Coexist with regular Chunky Monkey like Rocky & Drago! Goes the distance.
Cons: Banana-flavored runts. Sandy fudge chunks.