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.

REVIEW: Häagen-Dazs Pistachio Gelato

Ha?agen-Dazs Pistachio Gelato

There are many great mysteries in the universe. Like has anybody ever really killed two birds with one stone? Who’s the brilliant mind behind the cookie cake? If everything King Midas touches turns to gold, can he… you know… touch himself? Surely I’m not the only one who ponders these questions on a daily basis. Here’s another one of those mysteries: is gelato any good from a container?

Before I moved to Missouri, I lived directly across the street from an Italian café, which served the most foodgasm-inducing gelato I’d ever eaten. There were so many flavor options to choose from, it made every trip an adventure because you never knew what you’d walk out of there with.

Now that the authentic gelato is no longer across the street – and as far as I can tell nowhere to be had here – I knew it was time to do some investigating of my own into the store-bought gelatos. I got in the car and made the ever-joyous weekly trip to Walmart. And that’s not sarcasm. I literally live in the middle of nowhere, and going to Walmart passes for fun around these parts.

While perusing the ice cream aisle, I found Häagen-Dazs had a new line of gelatos, and the flavor debate began to rage in my noggin. Pomegranate swirl? No. Caramelized banana chip? Interesting, but wasn’t in a banana mood. Pistachio? PISTACHIO! Yes, this was the one. Even the Walmart cashier knew it was the one, as before she put it in the bag she took a gander at it and said, “Mmm, now that looks good.” Indeed it does, Walmart cashier. Indeed it does.

Upon arriving home, I put the gelato in the freezer and prepared to set the mood for the occasion. I tucked the corners of my love seat cover in so it looked nice and neat, cleaned the clutter from my coffee table, put some Miles Davis on and got into my jammies. Yes, I call them jammies.

Ha?agen-Dazs Pistachio Gelato Top

After retrieving the gelato from its frozen prison, I popped its top – tee hee – and gave it a look over. It’s a darker green than pistachio ice creams are, and it had little black specks in it, kind of like a vanilla bean flavor would. I buried the cold steel of my spoon in and took a bite.


The gelato was light and uber-creamy like authentic gelato, and it tasted like a real pistachio without having actual pistachios inside of it. This is an advantage because as anyone who’s eaten pistachio ice cream knows, you get a rotten pistachio every once in a while and it is one of the vilest tastes you’ll encounter.

The gelato is sweet tasting like pistachio ice cream, but you also get that roasted pistachio taste, something I hadn’t encountered in a frozen pistachio delicacy before. It has a high fat content, but you couldn’t tell unless you looked at the nutrition facts because it’s just so damn light and airy. The only element it was missing was the saltiness a real pistachio has. Curious, I put a little bit of salt on a spoonful.

Ha?agen-Dazs Pistachio Gelato Spoon

It would be impossible for a word or two to describe just how good this bite was, so I will attempt to do so with the following story that may or may not be true. I’ll leave it to you to decide.

After taking the bite, I blacked out. I awoke some time later to a knock on my door. I wondered who it could be as my building has a buzz-in system. My hot neighbor finally giving into my offer of drinking and yelling at my fantasy baseball team with me? I opened the door to reveal a six-foot tall pistachio. I first thought this some odd Trojan horse attempt of my hot neighbor to make it inside my apartment, and I said “if you wanted to come watch fantasy scores with me, you just had to ask.” But this was not my hot neighbor. It was a talking pistachio. And not just any pistachio either. It was the Pistachio King!

He said he was summoned here when I achieved pistachio bliss after putting salt on the gelato. I had uncovered the key to ultimate pistachio power. Basically, I unlocked the Super Saiyan 4 level of pistachio flavor.

The king and I hit it off instantly. It was like we were best friends in a past lifetime. He brought a 24-pack of my favorite beer, Sam Adams Coldsnap, and even laughed at my lame “that’s a Coldsnap, baby” line, a play off of SRV’s “Coldshot.” We put back bottle after bottle and collectively yelled at my fantasy baseball team. Once the games were done for the night, I asked Pistachio King if he wanted to watch me play Kingdom Hearts, and without hesitation he said yes! It’s not even a two-player game, but he didn’t care, he just continued to drink and cheer me on.

At one point Pistachio King asked if I wanted “some of that good shit,” and pulled out a baggie filled with a white crystal-like substance inside. I said “Pistachio King, I don’t do that,” but he said “don’t worry, it’s only salt!” We had a good laugh, and then I put some of the salt on the gelato and took a bite. Everything started spinning, and I again blacked out.

When I awoke, Pistachio King was gone and the gelato container was empty. Probably just a dream. But wait, why are there pistachio shells on the floor? Hmm… Well, at least the gelato from a container mystery was solved.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 10% calcium, and 4% iron.)

Item: Häagen-Dazs Pistachio Gelato
Purchased Price: $3.89
Size: 14 oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: As good as legit Italian gelato. Incredible real pistachio flavor. Adding a bit of salt brings out-of-body experience. Kickin’ it with Pistachio King.
Cons: High fat content. Container’s not a full pint. Hot neighbor still doesn’t want to drink and yell at my fantasy baseball team with me. King Midas mystery remains unsolved.