REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs Trio Salted Caramel & Chocolate Ice Cream

Haagen-Dazs Trio Salted Caramel & Chocolate Ice Cream

Ketchup, mustard, and mayo.

Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman.

Destiny’s Child.

Nirvana.

The Marx Brothers.

Our society is made up of so many good trios, why not shove that logic into a container of ice cream? The master-churners at Haagen-Dazs have our backs with their new line of creamy crack simply dubbed “Trio.” The Salted Caramel Chocolate version combines layers of crispy Belgian chocolate with salted caramel ice cream and chocolate ice cream. Let’s triple dip.

Digging into the psuedo-pint makes a distinctly unique crunching sound as my spoon breaks through the layers of chocolate inside. The ice cream is of typical Haagen-Dazs high quality – the mellow chocolate and subdued salted caramel make sense to combine in a flavor like this, but they ultimately kind of cancel each other out.

Haagen-Dazs Trio Salted Caramel & Chocolate Ice Cream 2

It’s always a risk to mix two ice cream bases, and here some of the subtle nuances of the caramel get washed over by the chocolate; which is a shame, because when you isolate the caramel on its own it’s a pretty tasty flavor.

Haagen-Dazs Trio Salted Caramel & Chocolate Ice Cream 3

The star of the show, the Belgian chocolate, is kind of thin; actually thinner than a lot of chocolate chunks or Ben & Jerry’s “fudge flakes,” and doesn’t add as much of a thick texture as I would like. The effect is much more similar to just a standard chocolate mix-in than a thick layer of chocolate, and in that regard the taste is much less impressive than the visual.

Haagen-Dazs Trio Salted Caramel & Chocolate Ice Cream 4

It actually tastes a lot like one of Haagen-Dazs’ ice cream bars got smashed up and squeezed into a carton, without that disgusting wooden stick that makes my teeth cringe.

The flavor combo between the two ice creams and layers of milky chocolate is a lot like eating a Rolo, but less sweet and grainy. I like Rolo’s, but I’m not usually interested in more than two or three, and that’s the same way I feel about this Trio. The flavors are good but lose their intrigue quickly and become a pretty single noted experience with the caramel nearly disappearing against all of the chocolate.

Haagen-Dazs Trio Salted Caramel & Chocolate Ice Cream 5

Overall, it eats much more like a chocolate chocolate chip than an ice cream with salted caramel, and the flavor would have been much more effective with a vanilla ice cream to let the caramel actually come through and have any real impact. It’s a well made product but the flavor distribution and execution could use some work.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup (104g) – 300 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 14 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Exciting crunch sound effects. Good quality ice cream. Shoving a Haagen-Dazs bar into a pint.
Cons: Flavors get muddled. Caramel gets lost. Chocolate layers should be thicker. Concept better than execution.

REVIEW: Häagen-Dazs Artisan Collection Spiced Pecan Turtle Ice Cream

Haagen-Dazs Artisan Collection Spiced Pecan Turtle Ice Cream

I just want to preface this review by telling you that I pronounce the word “pea-can,” and not the snooty, actual pronunciation “puh-con.” I’d be totally misrepresenting myself if I didn’t let you know that up front. Clearly, I’m not very cultured, so the idea of trying this new fancy pants ice cream flavor intrigues me…and kinda scares me.

Let’s be real, despite Magnum’s best attempts, Häagen-Dazs is our most pretentious ice cream brand. What with their “look at me” umlaut and their “look at me again” hyphen. Their name doesn’t even translate to anything, it just sounds Danish and important. Now they’re adding everyone’s favorite buzzword “Artisan” to the mix? We’re talking “high-quality ingredients handmade by a worker in a skilled trade” here people.

Enter Spiced Pecan Turtle Ice Cream.

Haagen-Dazs Artisan Collection Spiced Pecan Turtle Ice Cream Topless

The base ice cream looks, smells and tastes like any run of the mill chocolate ice cream you’re used to, so don’t get your hopes up there. The revelation you’re looking for comes in the form of the featured chocolate, caramel, and pecan clusters. This is where you leave boring ol’ chocolate ice cream behind, and enter a new world of perfectly textured spicy bites.

Unlike some ice creams riddled with molar threatening chunks, the outer chocolate coating of each cluster acts as a barrier to somehow keep the inner pecan soft and fresh. This was a welcome surprise and easily the best part of the ice cream for me. Size and appearance wise, they reminded me a lot of Buncha Crunch, just without a bunch of crunch. A crunch would actually ruin the experience.

The clusters are also where spice flavor really pops. Said flavor is inspired by Christopher Elbow’s artisanal chocolate – fannnn-cy! Apparently Mr. Elbow is very famous for peculiar chocolate creations and not his curveball as his name would suggest. 

Haagen-Dazs Artisan Collection Spiced Pecan Turtle Ice Cream Closeup

Turtles are an underrated flavor combination in my opinion (and an underrated animal for that matter) but I’m not sure they needed a “spice” element. The spice itself does have a little kick to it, which is an odd sensation to taste in an ice cream. The aftertaste lingers in the back of your mouth after you chomp down on the clusters, and I wasn’t a fan.  I got the hint of caramel, but only for a second before that weird heat took over. I guess “sweet and spicy” is trying to sneak its way into the niche market “sweet and salty” has recently carved out. I think it’s gonna have a harder time catching on.

Even after looking at all the ingredients, I’m not positive what this mystery “spice” is.  It could be cinnamon? Maybe ginger? This ice cream does taste a little “gingerbready” if you will. Will you? I know you won’t.

Well then, let me do my due diligence and research Christopher Elbow a little more because this will bother me all day. After some digging, the spice(s) appears to be…ancho and chipotle peppers with some cinnamon to boot. Well there it is, with the inclusion of “chipotle” we’ve hit max buzzword capacity. That explains the heat element. Here’s your chance to have peppers in your ice cream. Color me intrigued.

So is this worth trying? I’m gonna go ahead and say sure, give it a shot. While it’s basically just a strange spin on regular chocolate ice cream, it’s unique enough to try for yourself. Will I ever buy it again? Probably not, but I’m not mad that I did. If nothing else, I felt important while I held this pint of Häagen-Dazs. You shoulda seen the look the cute checkout girl gave me when I told her I only eat the finest artisanal ice creams. It was somewhere between “Who cares” and “Security!”

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 310 calories, 19 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, 0% calcium, and 8% iron.)

Item: Häagen-Dazs Artisan Collection Spiced Pecan Turtle Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.49 (on sale)
Size: 14 oz.
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Unique flavor. Umlauts. Artisanal snacking. Fancy pants. Boring ol’ chocolate ice cream. Cute checkout girl. I like turtles.
(Puh-)Cons: Utter spice confusion. Christopher Elbow squandering his name. Odd aftertaste. Boring ol’ chocolate ice cream.

REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs Artisan Collection Tres Leches Brigadeiros Ice Cream

Haagen Dazs Artisan Collection Tres Leches Brigadeiros Ice Cream Contianer

What first springs to mind when you see the word Brigadeiro? If you’re like me, which you probably are not, what springs forth is the picture of a Spanish military officer wearing a kickass uniform that probably has epaulettes.

What should spring to mind, however, is a chocolate truffle originating in Brazil that is apparently both famous and beloved and is often used for celebrations. At least, that’s what the Internet told me.

Listen, the point is that Häagen-Dazs has a new Artisan Collection. Each flavor says the ice cream company “collaborated closely with notable culinary artisans from around the country”, according to their press release. I chose Tres Leches Brigadeiros because tres leches is delicious and I guess I was still enamored with the idea of epaulettes.

By the way, in case you’re reading this review out loud to your kids as a bedtime story, Brigadeiro is pronounced bree-gah-day-ro. I was adding a few extra syllables in there before I learned that little fact. How silly I would look at the office if I hadn’t. Because Brazilian truffles are a trending water cooler topic, you know.

Häagen-Dazs decided to team up with My Sweet Brigadeiro for this artisanal flavor. They are based in New York but also sell their handmade Brigadeiros online. They specifically chose their Happy Couple for the ice cream.

With all this talk of truffles and cakes, you might expect Tres Leches Brigadeiros to contain chunks, but Häagen-Dazs actually deconstructed the Happy Couple for this creation, resulting in an ice cream that is completely smooth.

Haagen Dazs Artisan Collection Tres Leches Brigadeiros Ice Cream1

My Sweet Brigadeiro’s website describes the Happy Couple as “white and chocolate Brigadeiro and it’s called Casadinho in Portuguese”. And, in case you’re not familiar with tres leches, it’s a cake that utilizes, you guessed it, three different types of milk: evaporated, condensed, and heavy cream.

Now that we’re completely caught up on terminology, let’s get to the ice cream itself. As mentioned before, Tres Leches Brigadeiros (I’m just gonna call it TLB from now on) is a really smooth and creamy ice cream. It’s got chocolate ribbons running through it, which is meant to represent the Brigadeiro.

When I saw the chocolate on my spoon, I expected a burst of rich flavor when I put it in my mouth. Not so. The chocolate flavor is present, and actually tastes high-quality, but it’s very faint. As for the white chocolate, I couldn’t taste it at all.

Where TLB really shines is the tres leches part. With three different kinds of milk in the ingredients, it created a sweet ice cream with great depth that also managed not to overwhelm with richness.

Haagen Dazs Artisan Collection Tres Leches Brigadeiros Ice Cream2

This results in a carton of ice cream that you can dig into and finish off during an episode of Game of Thrones and suddenly go “Oh…oops.” In fact, I barely had time to take pictures before my carton of TLB was finished.

All this results in a bit of a conflict when it comes to my opinion of Häagen-Dazs Artisan Collection Tres Leches Brigadeiros. On the one hand, I adore both the light but deep flavor and the smooth texture, with the added bonus of a hint of chocolate ribbon.

On the other hand, I feel like anyone who is familiar with Brigadeiros will be disappointed. While I’ve never had one personally, I have to believe that the Happy Couple Brazilian truffle offers up more flavor than what’s been showcased by Häagen-Dazs. It seems like this should just be called “Tres Leches with a Hint of Chocolate”.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup — 270 calories, 15 grams of total fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 26 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 10% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Häagen-Dazs Artisan Collection Tres Leches Brigadeiros Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.33
Size: 14 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Delicious tres leches flavor. Epaulettes. Not too rich and super smooth. Learning about other cultures’ foods. Hint of chocolate works with the tres leches.
Cons: Brigadeiro flavor seems highly muted. Embarrassing mispronunciations. Way too easy to eat all 52.5 grams of fat in a single sitting. Happy Couple sounds like Chinese food. Brazilians may feel their favorite truffle is misrepresented.

REVIEW: Häagen-Dazs Tiramisu Dark Chocolate Gelato Bars

Ha?agen-Dazs Tiramisu Dark Chocolate Gelato Bars 1

A recent sojourn down the freezer aisles at Walmart has left me entirely convinced that the ice cream industry lays claim to some of the most linguistically appealing words. Take gelato, for example. Or better yet, Häagen-Dazs.

The way the words roll off the tongue with that seductive and sophisticated air is enough to sway a health nut away from the coarse offering of the produce department, or even a cash-strapped college student away from the economical tractor-beam that is the cereal aisle. Frosted Flakes, you say? Froot Loops? Please, mere alliteration and assonance cannot compare.

Perhaps this was the siren song which led me to Häagen-Dazs’ new line of Gelato Bars. As if transfixed by the mere sound alone, repeated in Neapolitan prose of some great poet (or at least Giada De Laurentiis) the tiramisu flavor was beyond by capacity to pass up.

Tiramisu seems to be a natural flavor choice for a gelato bar. Obviously the name alone fits in with the ethos of cultured European desserts, but the flavors, too, lend themselves to gelato. At first I was a bit skeptical; there’s a lot going on in tiramisu. Between the custard element and the coffee flavor to the not-too-tangy richness of the mascarpone cheese, it’s a lot to pack into bar form. And pack it they do.

Ha?agen-Dazs Tiramisu Dark Chocolate Gelato Bars 3

Each bar comes in this totally adorable sleeve, enrobed with a white patchwork pattern gracing the dark chocolate shell. It’s enough to make even the most dude of dudes want to go “awe, it looks like a little tuxedoed ice cream bar!” I may or may not have done this, but regardless, you get the point. Looks count when you’re paying more than a dollar a bar, and Häagen-Dazs gets it.

Ha?agen-Dazs Tiramisu Dark Chocolate Gelato Bars 4

The dark chocolate shell is exquisite. Yes, I believe exquisite is the right word. It’s bittersweet and smooth, with none of that off-putting metallic aftertaste some shells have. It holds its shape extremely well, yielding a slow melt and rounded flavor. I do wish the white patchwork drizzle had a bit more white chocolate flavor, but I became so engrossed in this dark chocolate shell that I can forgive what amounted to little more than ornamentation.

One often wonders about the texture of gelato, which although it claims no labeling standard in this country, is regarded as having a lower butterfat and sugar content than ice cream. In this case, though, the coffee-flavored gelato beneath the shell tastes both rich and sweet, with an authentic light-roast flavor which co-habitates wonderfully with the dark chocolate.

There’s an extra element there too. It’s hard to define, even after scouring a veritable Google search of taste-inspired vocabulary words. It’s nonetheless smooth in texture and indulgent in flavor, inspiring a cream cheese appeal without any of the stabilizing weirdness of actual cream cheese. This I can only assume is the mascarpone element combined with the egg yolk-fortified custard. I admit my lack of actual time spent enjoying real tiramisu in cafes amidst the Venato region of Italy may leave a feeling of doubt about my authority to claim this, but having had a crush on Giada and watched her shows for the better part of the time I decided girls no longer had cooties, I feel I do have some expertise in this matter.

All that being said, I can’t quite break into a Dean Martin rendition of “That’s Amore,” if only because the bar can’t fully complete the tiramisu flavor. There’s just no ladyfinger element, and given that one of the other flavors of the bar sticks freaking Pizzelle cookie pieces in the chocolate shell, I feel like I’m being shortchanged.

Ha?agen-Dazs Tiramisu Dark Chocolate Gelato Bars 5

When you think about it, the effect is really more affogato than tiramisu, although the latter is certainly more recognizable. Plus, and this would have been much more annoying on a summer day, the gelato base is more viscous than regular ice cream, and ends up exploding out of the shell if you’re not careful in eating the shell from top down.

Häagen-Dazs Gelato Bars definitely live up to their billing as sophisticated frozen desserts. With a rich coffee and mascarpone flavor and exquisitely smooth dark chocolate shell they’re worth their price tag, even if they inspire more of an affogato flavor than tiramisu. I only wish there was some kind of ladyfinger cookie or biscuit element involved, which would really push these bars into must-buy territory.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 270 calories, 160 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Häagen-Dazs Tiramisu Dark Chocolate Gelato Bars
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 3 bars/box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Exceptional dark chocolate flavor in the shell. Tastes super rich. Coffee flavor is light and sweet. Notes of mascarpone and custard. Pronouncing foreign words.
Cons: No ladyfinger element. Outside lace doesn’t add more than ornamentation. Gelato base melts quickly once the integrity of the shell is broken. An awesome source of saturated fat.

QUICK REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs Caramelized Banana Chip Gelato

Ha?agen-Dazs Caramelized Banana Chip Gelato

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Wonderful banana-flavored gelato that doesn’t taste doesn’t taste at all artificial, Lots of semi-sweet chocolatey shavings throughout the container, which give the frozen dessert a texture contrast. Not overly sweet. Easy to scoop out, somewhat hard to put down (although reading the nutrition facts over and over helped me put it down). Monkeys would approve.
Cons: Can’t taste the caramelization in the caramelized banana gelato; it tastes like plain banana ice cream. Not a full pint. Texture not like gelato one would get from a gelato shop, even after letting it soften a little. Has a very faint banana aroma. Not as great as Häagen-Dazs Bananas Foster Ice Cream, which has a flavor that’s more complex than this gelato.

Ha?agen-Dazs Caramelized Banana Chip Gelato Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 1/2 cup – 260 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.