REVIEW: Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake

Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake

“Gelato.” It’s a fun word to say. Go ahead, say it out loud. I don’t care if you’re at work. Everyone already thinks you’re a weirdo. Yep, that’s right, your paranoia is not unfounded. You know the way everyone stops talking when you enter the break room? That’s because they’re talking about you.

“Gelato” also sounds super fancy, like maybe I should put some pants on before I start eating this Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake. In reality, though, gelato is just the Italian word for ice cream. It’s generally softer than your normal ice cream and, according to Wikipedia, “contains a relatively small amount of air. By statute, gelato in Italy must have at least 3.5% butterfat, with no upper limit established.”

No upper limit established, eh? I’m pretty sure 99 percent butterfat gelato wouldn’t go over so well with the general population, even in Italy. In fact, I’m grossing myself out just thinking about it, so let’s move on.

The lineup of Breyers new Gelato Indulgences includes Triple Chocolate, Vanilla Caramel and Tiramasu as well as my choice, Raspberry Cheesecake. I’m fond of all of these flavors, but there’s a special place in my heart for cheesecake, and an extra special place in my heart for cheesecake drizzled with berry-flavored syrup.

Given this, at least I didn’t have to stand in the frozen treats aisle for ten minutes trying to decide which flavor I wanted, which happens far more often than it should for the normal human being.

Breyers describes this flavor as “Cheesecake gelato with luscious raspberry sauce & gourmet graham crumble.” You do know how to make ice cream sound sexy, Breyers.

Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake Closeup

I love that Breyers went through the trouble of making Raspberry Cheesecake look like an Indulgence even when I took the lid off. I’ve never seen an ice cream make an effort to look fancy when you take the lid off, as opposed to just the container. Just look at those swirls and crumbles. Beautiful.

Appearances can be deceiving, however. Fortunately, that was not the case here. The gelato was super smooth straight out of the freezer, which I love. I hate when I have to chip away at ice cream until it melts enough to get half a spoonful out, which has sometimes resulted in my spoon acting as a lever that flings a bit of ice cream halfway across the room.

The gelato also captured an authentic cheesecake flavor. It would have felt like something was missing without the raspberry swirls, though. The swirls of sauce were evenly spaced and ran right down to the bottom of the carton. The thick sauce had a delicious, rich raspberry taste that complimented the gelato perfectly. It reminded me of Knott’s Berry Farm syrup.

The one part where this Raspberry Cheesecake Gelato failed was in the graham cracker crumbles. They were rather definitively not gourmet. Unlike a good cheesecake, the crumbles were soggy, which makes sense given that they’d been sitting on top of ice cream, but still took away from the authentic cheesecake experience.

Furthermore, the crumbles you see are the crumbles you get – they look nice on top, but that’s the only place they are, so you’re not going to wind up with some in every bite. While they had a so-so graham cracker crust taste, they didn’t add much flavor or texture.

For Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake, the real stars are the cheesecake gelato and the raspberry sauce swirls, which, frankly are the most important parts. The smooth texture of the gelato and the rich sauce that was there in every bite without being overwhelming complimented each other perfectly.

I can forgive the way the graham cracker crumbles pretty much disappeared, but the $5.49 retail price seems a bit steep to me. If I see it on sale in the future, however, I’ll definitely be picking this up again.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 170 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of total fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 6% vitamin A, and 8% calcium.)

Item: Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake
Purchased Price: $4.49 (on sale)
Size: 28.5 oz. carton
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Gelato has smooth texture right out of the freezer. Saying the word “gelato.” Raspberry swirls are rich and in every spoonful. Breyers took the time to make it look nice in the carton.
Cons: Graham cracker crumbles are soggy and only on top. Being right about your co-workers talking about you behind your back. Price is a little steep. Thinking about 99 percent butterfat gelato.

REVIEW: Breyers Blasts! Limited Edition Oreo Birthday Blast!

Breyers Limited Edition Oreo Birthday Blast

It seems like many longstanding companies don’t know quite how to feel about their own longevity.  Staying in business for a long time is, of course, something to celebrate — the company I work for recently hit a major milestone and celebrated with both a family picnic and a black-tie dinner, which was cool.  But a lot of companies seem to want to downplay their past in an effort to appear cutting-edge and in touch with today’s consumers.  You understandably see it a lot with tech companies, but also in some industries you wouldn’t expect.  DC Comics has the richest history of any comic company on Earth, but when it comes to their original characters from the 1940s, the powers that be generally alternate between killing them off, writing them out of stories, and pretending they don’t exist.  (Because characters created in the ’50s and ’60s are so much more relevant, presumably.)

The food industry seems to play both sides of the fence.  You’ll see plenty of brands where the companies seem to constantly try new flavors or fillings or variations on the original — coat it in chocolate, fill it with berries, age it ten years and throw some parsley on top — but at the same time, there are a number of products that have really stood the test of time, and their makers rarely miss an opportunity to point that out.  The fact that they often do so while simultaneously introducing the “new and improved version!” of the product that’s lasted forever in its original form is an irony not lost on me, and Nabisco provides us with a fantastic example of what we’re talking about.  As you probably know, Oreos are celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2012, and I’ll bet you cash money Nabisco has rolled out more variants on the Oreo in the past ten years than they did in the ninety preceding it — Double Stufs, Triple Doubles, Neapolitan flavor, Berry Burst, Strawberry Milkshake Creme, Cakesters… the list is endless.  Celebrate the past, just so long as no one thinks you’re afraid to make changes to keep with the times appears to be the credo.

Breyers Limited Edition Oreo Birthday Blast Closeup

Be that as it may, part of any good birthday celebration is ice cream, so Nabisco has teamed up with Breyer’s to bring us… almost ice cream.  “Frozen dairy dessert,” if you want to get technical.  I don’t tend to notice the difference until it’s pointed out to me, but I know some of you (like my wife) do, and once she mentioned it, I definitely could detect the slight aftertaste that smacks of “almost but not quite ice cream.”  Like blinking your eyes or breathing, it’s the sort of thing you don’t consciously think about, but then once it’s brought to your attention, you can’t stop noticing it.  It didn’t totally ruin my enjoyment, but it definitely diminished it slightly; naturally, your mileage may vary.

Oreos, of course, have a proud tradition of partnering with ice cream as the classic cookies n’ cream flavor, or the slightly less classic “creme (with cookie chunks)” by stores afraid of violating copyright laws.  By appearances, the anniversary ice cream looked to be exactly that, just with rainbow sprinkles added, so that’s what I was expecting.  It’s also basically what I got, so here’s to judging a book by its cover!  But I was pleasantly surprised to note that along with the rainbow sprinkles came a bit of cake batter flavor too.  It’s not overwhelming, but it pairs with the Oreo cookie chunks pretty well.  The dessert is fairly creamy — not Ben & Jerry’s quality, but still, not bad.

Overall, you pretty much know what to expect from this frozen dairy dessert if you’ve had cookies n’ cream before, as that’s the dominant base.  I’d love to tell you it’s more exciting than that, but this is just a decent but not outstanding flavor that loses a point or two for the aftertaste.  It’s not bad by any stretch, but it doesn’t really live up to the monumental milestone it was designed to commemorate either.  As it stands, I don’t think you’d find anyone arguing Oreo Birthday Blast was worth waiting 100 years for.

(Nutrition Facts — 1/2 cup — 130 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of total fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Breyers Blasts! Limited Edition Oreo Birthday Blast!
Price: $3.79
Size: 1.5 quarts
Purchased at: Giant
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Visually appealing rainbow sprinkles.  Most Oreos don’t look a day over 70.  Tasty cookie chunks.  Hard to be TOO disappointed with what is, essentially, cookies n’ cream.  Certainly not healthy, but could be a lot worse.  If you make a wish before digging in your spoon, it stands as good a chance of coming true as if you were wishing on a candle.
Cons: Can’t un-notice the aftertaste after it’s been pointed out to you.  (Sorry.)  Not real ice cream.  Companies that want to celebrate their longevity when convenient while ignoring it the other 99% of the time.  Not exactly overflowing in creativity.  Could be slightly creamier.

REVIEW: Edy’s Slow Churned Rich & Creamy Triple Cookie Fudge Sundae

Edy's Slow Churned Rich & Creamy Triple Cookie Fudge Sundae

If you’ve ever wondered how dedicated I am to this gig — if I’m just in it for the obscene salary, free back rubs, and ungodly number of loose women — then wonder no more.  A guy who’s just phoning it in, when reviewing a triple-flavored tub of ice cream, will simply dig in a spoon at random and start going to town.  A true professional will make certain he’s taking bites from each individual segment to ensure he’s getting an accurate flavor reading, pausing between each to “cleanse the palate” with some water.  He will do this no matter how hoity-toity it may make him feel at the time or how many beers he must drink afterward to not feel like a snobbish food critic.  Hypothetically.

But let’s face it: the world is changing.  Things that delighted and enthralled older generations just can’t cut it with today’s consumers, and unless you spent last Saturday in the parlor smoking and listening to the phonograph, I’m sure you agree.  By that token, Neapolitan ice cream was something to lose your shit over in the 1800s and quaintly pleasant in the late 20th century, but it’s just not cutting it in a new millennium.  Recognizing this trend, Edy’s has acted to rectify it by introducing a new tri-flavor: Triple Cookie Fudge Sundae.  Or possibly they just read my mind and realized I don’t like strawberry.  Either way: woohoo!  Note that this is part of Edy’s “Slow Churned” slightly healthier line of ice cream.  There apparently is another version in the “Fun Flavors” line, but I haven’t seen it.

As you can tell from the picture and probably could have guessed otherwise, a circular container is not conducive to perfectly equal proportions between the flavors.  That’s bad news if you’re a chocolate fiend, since it’s confined to a thin band sandwiched between the two vanilla-based varieties.  On the plus side, the circular nature of the tub favors those who like to mix their flavors, allowing one to easily scoop a swath through all three.  (Ice cream segregationists are out of luck… take your intolerance elsewhere, this is a progressive blog.)  Again, I tried to sample each flavor individually for reviewing purposes, but if you’re just eating a bowl absentmindedly while watching TV, you’re going to have definite flavor mixing; whether that’s a plus or a minus obviously comes down to personal preference.

Edy's Slow Churned Rich & Creamy Triple Cookie Fudge Sundae Closeup

The first flavor listed is vanilla chocolate chip & cookie dough, which seems overly verbose: I think the vanilla part is implied, and do you really need that ampersand in there?  Regardless, it’s pretty good ice cream, fairly creamy with a nice aftertaste.  (In fact, the carton itself boasts of its “now creamier taste,” though since this is a new flavor, I assume they’re talking about the slow-churned line in general.)  If I have a complaint, it’s that it doesn’t overload you with cookie dough chunks  — they’re there, but not exploding out of every spoonful.

The middle variety is chocolate with fudge swirl, ironically perhaps the most boring flavor.  That’s not easy to pull off when you’re sandwiched between two varieties of vanilla, which should tell you something.  It’s perfectly fine chocolate ice cream, but the fudge swirl is tasty but inconsistent, and I usually like something with contrasting texture mixed into my ice cream, though your mileage may vary.  For that reason, I wasn’t disappointed that this flavor accounts for the lowest total percentage of the tub.

For some reason the vanilla & brownies tastes a little creamier than the vanilla cookie dough, which is probably my imagination since I’m sure they were made from the same vanilla base.  The brownie chunks are surprisingly gooey and taste slightly like dark chocolate.  I don’t have any complaints about them except that there aren’t enough in there, even in comparison to the chocolate chip cookie dough, which as you’ll recall wasn’t exactly overwhelming me with its density either.

Taken as a whole, Edy’s Triple Cookie Fudge Sundae isn’t an unqualified success, but it’s certainly far from a failure.  I enjoyed myself while eating it, and I definitely wouldn’t be averse to having some again.  And since it’s slow churned, there’s a lot less fat and calories than regular ice cream, which is great.  But at the same time, it lacks that real “pop” that makes the memory of it stick with you long after the container is finished.  Maybe it was the stinginess of the mix-ins, or perhaps it was a bad idea to have two vanilla-based flavors… swapping one out with butter pecan, say, or making two of them chocolate-based could’ve been a way to go.  Still, if you decide to pick up a carton, I think you will like it.  You just might want to adjust your expectations going in for a good, not a great flavor.

(Nutrition Facts — 1/2 cup — 110 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugars, and 3 grams of protein)

Item: Edy’s Slow Churned Rich & Creamy Triple Cookie Fudge Sundae
Price: $3.39
Size: 1.5 quarts
Purchased at: Giant
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Kicks Neapolitan ice cream’s ass.  Not that bad for you.  Promotes integration.  Name is fun to say.  Creamy.  Reviewers who go the extra distance.
Cons: Too much J.D., not enough Turk.  Mix-ins not prevalent enough.  Ice cream segregationists.  Chocolate with fudge swirl should not be (but is) boring.  Lacks that “wow” factor that separates stars from supporting ice cream.

REVIEW: Breyers Blasts! Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookies

Breyers Blasts! Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookies

[Apologies if this review is a little disjointed, I'm writing it in the throes of a nasty head cold.  It's progressed to the point where my white blood cells are marshaling their forces, drawing troops away from unessential functions like "breathing" and "not feeling like shit" to prepare for the final engagement.  If you see another review from me in 10 days or so, they were victorious.  If not, tell all of their mothers that their sons died like men.  Cowardly, impotent men.]
 
A request was made in the comments section of my last review that I tackle some Ben & Jerry’s.  There actually is a new B&J flavor out that I’d love to subject to either a blistering tongue-lashing or an exquisite tongue-… something else; but as I took the liberty of pointing out, Ben & Jerry’s has a billion flavors but never the one you need.  That’s okay, though, because in the midst of my search, I came across this little gem: Breyer’s Blasts! Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookies.  (The extra exclamation points stand for flavor and copyright protection, respectively.)  It seems like both a simple and a delicious concept, if not a little derivative.  I picked it up, but couldn’t help wondering if there would really be anything to set it apart from chocolate chip cookie dough.
 
You can call me finicky or demanding or unfathomably sexy or stubborn if you like, but there are certain things I expect from a frozen dairy dessert bearing the name of a popular cookie company, and that’s that it A) be good, and B) taste like cookies, ideally chocolate chip, and even more ideally chocolate chip that won’t make me fat.  Since Chips Ahoy! delivers on nearly all of that (operating under the Schrödinger’s Diet theory that if I don’t step on a scale, I both will and will not have gained any weight), I think we can call it an unqualified success.  But succinct crib notes aren’t why you come to the food blog dubbed “Best Punctuated” by Consumer Reports, so allow me to expand on why this should be your next dessert purchase.

Breyers Blasts! Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookies Bowl

On first glance, Chips Ahoy! looks a lot like Moose Tracks or any other fudge-based frozen dairy dessert you can imagine.  The first bite, however, is enough to tell you that it’s much more than that, as you get hold of a chocolate chip or two.  And those are good, nicely complementing the fudge stripes and giving you a little bit of texture variety.  But what’s even better is when you also get some cookie in there as well.  You won’t in every bite, at least not in equal degrees; some bites will feel like you’re actually eating a soft Chipwich, while others will just have a little hint of cookie dough.  But it’s never completely missing, and that’s what’s important.  Nearly as critical is the fact that the fudge makes its presence known without overwhelming any of the other tastes.
 
You might have noticed that I used the word “soft.”  One thing I worried about with this flavor was that it would have hard chunks of cookies you could practically break your teeth on.  After all, they’re surrounded by freezing cold dairy dessert, not exactly conducive to softness.  But somehow, those sonsabitches down at the Breyers factory made the cookie chunks stay remarkably soft, possibly through the use of chemicals or dark sorcery.  It’s crazy how soft they are, and I’ve read comics where a 5th dimensional imp rides a dog with a mask on its face accompanied by a teenage girl in a red and green dress whose sole function is to prove that Robin isn’t gay.  So I know from crazy.
 
But in the end I don’t particularly care how they do it, just that the cookie veins are both rich and tender.  Like Elvis.  That’s very much the case, and it comes in conjunction with smooth, tasty frozen dairy dessert and fudge that distinguishes itself instead of fading into the background like that kid from Family Matters who vanished between seasons and was never heard from again, unless you watch porn.  (Which I don’t, Mom.)  Man, I need to stop watching so much TV.  My foibles aside, this is some mighty delicious frozen dairy dessert whose sole negative is that it’s, uh, not especially good for you.  Portion control is strongly recommended, but if you’ve got the calories to spare, give this flavor a try.

(Nutrition Facts — 1/2 cup — 140 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.)

Other Breyers Blasts! Chips Ahoy! reviews:
On Second Scoop

Item: Breyers Blasts! Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookies
Price: $4.59
Size: 1.5 quart
Purchased at: Giant
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Surviving the common cold.  Multiple exclamation points.  If you don’t step on the scale, you haven’t gained any weight.  Discernible but not overwhelming fudge.  Surprisingly soft cookies.  Rich frozen dairy dessert.  Most bites have at least some cookie in them.
Cons: Not finding the flavor you need.  Gaining weight if you eventually do step on the scale.  Not exactly a “light” dessert.  A little expensive.  Forgotten child stars.  Bat-Mite, Ace the Bat-Hound, and Bat-Girl.