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.

2 Comments

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.

2 Comments

REVIEW: Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato

In a world where everything flavored pumpkin, or pumpkin spice, is disbursed to the masses before the first autumn leaf even has a fighting chance to touch the ground, I figured finding Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie Gelato would be a piece of cake…ha-ha…get it? Cake? Instead of ……oh, nevermind.

I started browsing for this fairytale gelato flavor mid-to-late September. To my surprise, it was nowhere to be found.* But how could this be? Every other item you pick up in any grocery store during pre-fall is conjoined with some sort of natural or artificial pumpkin flavor. Pumpkin spice yogurt? Aisle 3. Pumpkin spice gum? You got it. Pumpkin pie vodka? You betcha (and totally trying it). Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato? No dice.

C’mon, Talenti, step up your game! There was even a Durex Pumpkin Spice Condom hoax before your pumpkin pie flavor hit the shelves. To say I was a little frustrated is an understatement.

I can honestly say I’ve never, in my life, searched for or used the word “gelato” as much as I did during two weeks when I was looking for it. I became a gelato crackhead, calling stores day and night begging and pleading that they go check their frozen food section for this mythical product. Some were pleasant, some scoffed at me, replying with “It’s obviously seasonal – it won’t be out for weeks.”

“Are you shitting me? There are pumpkin pickles** on Aisle 12!”

Pfft. And I’m the crazy one.

Fast forward to now. There I am, strolling through Safeway with some Bausch & Lomb Eyewash in my hand, when suddenly, the gates of heaven opened and a light shined down over a cold case end cap. There it was – Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato – and there I was, staring back with a look of disbelief. I finally found you.

They say when you stop looking for love, it will find you.

The same can be said for gelato.

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato topview

If I were solely to base my opinion of this product just by appearance, by the illuminated orange of your traditional pumpkin pie compared to the appearance of the dull beige color of the gelato, I’d say, “forget it, save your money, move on and nothing to see here people.” But that’s not what we’re all here for, now is it? Thankfully so.

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato spoonful

My first spoonful in I was completely overwhelmed with “This is gooooooodddddd!” (I’m not kidding – I said it that exact way to my roommate as I shoveled it into my face.)

The prominent flavor that really smacks me in the face is a heavy hand of gingerbread. Which throws me off a bit. I have never really thought of a traditional pumpkin pie having a gingerbread flavor. I attribute this flavor to the cinnamon and nutmeg. I am not mad about it.

One thing that really surprised me were the chunks of “crust” folded into the gelato. PIE CRUST?!

Well played, Talenti, Well played.

I can’t think of anything more that I enjoy about a piece of pumpkin pie, than the crust. The pieces have a chewy texture with a nice buttery undertone, which compliment the pumpkin spices perfectly. I don’t know exactly what the pieces are made of – probably flour and brown sugar – but they definitely add to the overall experience of a “pumpkin pie” flavor.

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato spoonful_close

Once my childlike excitement for pie crust pieces subsided, and after a few more spoonfuls, the alleged star of the show finally arrived. Welcome to my tastes buds, Pumpkin, you delicious little bastard, you.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are pumpkin undertones to this product but by no means does it taste solely like pumpkin. The spices overwhelm the pumpkin, but it’s there if you dig really deep inside your senses. I mean, it IS a “pumpkin pie” flavor, not a “pumpkin” flavor.

And that’s exactly what you get. It tastes eerily similar to pumpkin pie filling. If you’re one to enjoy a nice slice of pumpkin pie after your holiday feast, you will undoubtedly love this product. If I could take a pint of this and dump it out into a store bought crust while drowning it in Reddi-wip without the fear of being judged, I’d jump on that wagon in a heart beat.

I secretly hope someone puts me in charge of bringing a pumpkin pie to Thanksgiving this year because I can’t bake a damn and my family won’t know to be specific and say, “Not the gelato variety.”

Taylor – 1
Family – 0

*I live in Oregon – nobody ever thinks to include Oregon in things. We’re like the last kid picked for a dodgeball game.

**Pumpkin pickles are not a thing. That would be disgusting. Dramatic effect FTW.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 220 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato
Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Delicious. Tastes like pumpkin pie filling. PIE CRUST PIECES!!!! Pumpkin pie spices give it a gingerbread taste. Pulling a fast one over my family members.
Cons: Searching for two weeks to find it. Being a gelato crackhead for two weeks. Actual pumpkin flavor isn’t prominent. Pumpkin pie spices give it too much of a gingerbread taste that I don’t generally feel relates to a traditional pumpkin pie. Not being able to bake my own pumpkin pie.

8 Comments

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.

1 Comment

REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

Since the dawn of civilization cheesecake and pie have been wrestling in a titanic struggle of after-dinner supremacy. No flavor or ingredient has been off limits. From plump summer blueberries to decadent combinations of chocolate and peanut butter, the two desserts have been firing salvos at each other for years

Thanks to an urban chic food trend in embracing American comfort food, pie seems to have delivered most of the damage (calorically, of course) in recent years. It’s even become part of our lexicon, practically becoming synonymous with all things Americana and just damn yummy. That’s not to say cheesecake hasn’t had some good showings, but with fall dawning on us and Dairy Queen doing double-duty with seasonally themed Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie Blizzards, it’s going to take more than a proverbial trip to The Cheesecake Factory to steal some of the glory.

Fortunately, Baskin-Robbins is fighting back, indulging my love for both pumpkin and cheesecake with September’s Flavor of the Month. With both a cream cheese ribbon and cheesecake ice cream base it covers almost enough dairy as a Wisconsin 4-H fair, adding gingersnap cookie pieces which promise to add a bit of crunch and crust to the pumpkin ice cream.

That’s right, pumpkin. Not “pumpkin flavored,” and not just orange color with some vague spice flavor, the ice cream base nails an authentic pumpkin taste buttressed by a wonderfully autumnal sweetness and cinnamon spice. Bordering on cloying but thankfully neither earthly nor artificial, its distinct brown sugar notes are balanced by the taste of fresh cream and milk. It’s that taste which keeps the base from the heavy connotation pumpkin pie sometimes conjures up, and despite what I’m sure is a veritable calorie overload thanks to no less than 11 different sweeteners in the recipe, a modest-sized cone isn’t enough to make you want to unbuckle your pants and watch Tony Romo throw six interceptions on Thanksgiving.

Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream 2

The cheesecake flavor is really quite splendid, and I mean this in the most endearing way possible. Despite a fascistic ONE SCOOP FOR YOU policy instituted by my local Baskin-Robbins, a thorough probing (also known as licking) of the base reveals a well-integrated cream cheese ribbon with varying degrees of tang and richness.

There’s a smooth mouthfeel throughout, and no sign of the chalky or gritty “cheesecake” chunks that one sometimes finds in frozen yogurt shops. On two separate swipes on the tongue I caught a burst of tang, which illuminated my palette amidst the sweet cream high. It encompasses both a distinctive cheesecake vibe and indulgent cream cheese texture, and together the two elements of cultured dairy work magnificently.

Insofar as flavor is concerned, the gingersnap pieces aren’t bad—the distinct taste of ginger adds a great balancing depth to the sweetness of the ice cream—but the crushed snaps aren’t exactly crust worthy. With a soggy texture and almost no crunch to speak of, they’re actually kind of lost amidst the overly viscous ice cream, which seems especially prone to melting on even a modestly warm fall day.

Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream 3

Actually, my biggest gripe was the deteriorating texture of the ice cream. While it starts off exceptionally creamy and smooth, it doesn’t hold up to the tongue and quickly melts, leaving one with less with the impression of pumpkin ice cream and more with the notion of chilled pumpkin bisque. It’s enough to make me kind of wish I was getting pie.

Is Baskin-Robbins’ Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream enough to deal a game-changing victory in the war between pie and cheesecake? Not quite, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious or seasonally appropriate. With a no-nonsense pumpkin flavor and distinctive cheesecake richness and tang, it definitely fires the first shots in this year’s fall flavor battle.

(Nutrition Facts – 4 oz scoop – 260 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of sodium, 135 milligrams of cholesterol, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.39
Size: Regular Scoop
Purchased at: Baskin-Robbins
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pumpkin cream cheese base has loads of cinnamon and brown sugar flavor. Avoids gritty fake cheesecake pieces. Gingersnap crumbs contribute good spice. Nice bursts of cheesecake tang. A solid showing by team cheesecake in the never-ending battle of desserts. Thank God I’m not a Cowboys fan.
Cons: Gingersnap pieces aren’t very crunchy and get lost amidst the ice cream base. Melts entirely too quickly. Feeling like Oliver Twist as the Baskin-Robbins employee haphazardly scoops my ice cream.

2 Comments