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REVIEW: Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake

Written by | January 30, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Breyers, Ice Cream

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.

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REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins Movie Theater Popcorn Ice Cream

Written by | January 14, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Baskin-Robbins, Fast Food

Baskin-Robbins Movie Theater Popcorn Ice Cream

Lights! Camera! Popcorn! Ice Cream?

Wait a second there, Spielberg. I get that with the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and Critics’ Choice awards packed into a two week span, January has become the de facto tie-in month for food branding to take a stroll down the red carpet. But you do realize, don’t you, that it’s January. As in, we just had a freaking polar vortex January. You’ve got to have something unique and unbelievably tasty to get me to put frozen stuff into my already frozen body in January.

Well, at the risk of also making January the de facto month for predictable food blogging puns, this year’s award for the best new ice cream flavor undoubtedly goes to Baskin-Robbins’ Movie Theater Popcorn Ice Cream.

I’ve got to give Baskin-Robbins credit. They do this whole “Flavor of the Month” and it’s usually something we’ve seen before – another Marvel comic book movie, if you will. A little chocolate here, some crushed up cookies there; sometimes, when they really go out on a limb, they might even add some fruit or fudge (edgy, I know.)

There’s nothing wrong with these flavors, but then again they’re hardly game-changing. Spider Man saves the world again but loses MJ? Bah! Seen it. Throw in the fact that my local Baskin-Robbins employees seem to take it as a personal insult when asked to walk the three steps from their station on the Dunkin’ Donuts side of the store to scoop ice cream on the Baskin-Robbins side, and it takes a lot for me to really get excited about their Flavor of the Month.

Baskin-Robbins Movie Theater Popcorn Ice Cream Closeup Ice Cram

This month has been different. Between my unbound love of all things salty and sweet and my own experiments making kettle corn ice cream at home, I was cautiously optimistic that the film-inspired flavor would deliver just the right balance of sweet, salty, crunchy, and creamy – the fantastic four of texture and flavor, if you will.

Baskin-Robbins Movie Theater Popcorn Ice Cream Yellow

The off-beat flavor not only delivered that elusive combination, it embodied it almost as well as Tom Hanks captured Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips. It all starts with the popcorn pieces, which, interestingly enough, are made from rice. Weird, right? Well, they don’t exactly look like perfectly popped and fluffy pieces of popcorn (actually, they have a stained gold color that familiar to those who drown their popcorn at the theater’s butter dispensers), but they sure have that buttery corn taste.

For you popcorn aficionados, consider these almost like little glazed nuggets of kettle corn, except with more butter. And more butter is always better, even in the case of ice cream. It’s almost toffee-like in its effect, providing a sweet crunch that stays remarkably brittle even in the extra creamy ice cream.

Baskin-Robbins Movie Theater Popcorn Ice Cream closeup

What’s more, there were no signs of ice crystals or other textural defects that sometimes come with larger mix-ins. About the size of a penny, the already salty-sweet popcorn flavored crisps get an extra shot of salty-sweet from the salted caramel swirl, which also adds an element of smooth dulce de leche-like viscosity to the ice cream. The whole flavor profile, with a depth of sweetness and hint of browned butter and salt, even elevates the lowly cake cone. Like a nominee for best supporting actress or actor, the cone actually takes on an element of – and I realize this sounds weird – pound cake flavor when eaten with the creamy, buttery ice cream base.

Granted, I like ice cream. But it takes a lot to get me to really, really, really like ice cream in January. But, as Brooklyn Nine-Nine pulled out a stunning surprise as the best new comedy at the Golden Globes (hilarious show, by the way), so Baskin Robbins’ Movie Theater Popcorn ice cream steals the show amidst over some otherwise worthy ice cream flavors. I just hope they bring it back in, shall we say, more conducive months for ice cream eating.

(Nutrition Facts – 2.5 oz scoop – 170 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of sodium, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugars, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Baskin-Robbins Movie Theater Popcorn Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 2.5 oz Kid’s Scoop
Purchased at: Baskin-Robbins
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy, buttery, salty-sweet popcorn pieces have a toffee-like effect. Plentiful salted caramel swirl. Creamy, clean mouthfeel. Raising the mere cake cone to the herculean dessert height of pound cake.
Cons: Eating ice cream in January. Predictable film puns. Awesome source of saturated fat.

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REVIEW Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Ron Burgundy’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream

Written by | November 7, 2013

Topics: 7 Rating, Ben & Jerry's, Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Ron Burgundy's Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream

The first Anchorman movie – technically, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – came out the summer of 2004. The world was a very different place back then.

Steve Carell was still a correspondent on The Daily Show. Adam McKay and Will Ferrell were just beginning their comedic partnership. And I was constantly saying, “I love scotch, scotchy, scotch, scotch, here it goes down, down into my belly” despite having consumed alcohol just one single time in my life. (Bacardi 151 in my friend Josh’s basement before a Sweet 16 party. I couldn’t believe alcohol tasted that awful and swore that I’d never touch the stuff again.)

Things have certainly evolved since then. Steve Carell is a bona fide movie star. The McKay/Ferrell team has created Ricky Bobby, the Funny or Die website, and that video of the adorable little girl cursing out Will Ferrell. Single malt scotches are now my drink of choice – I’m writing this review with a bottle of Glenlivet 15 year on my desk.

One thing that hasn’t changed: I still routinely say “scotchy scotch scotch” whenever I drink anything out of a whiskey glass. More generally, I’ve probably never gone a week without quoting Anchorman at any point in the last decade, and, for a certain demographic, phrases like “I’m in a glass case of emotion” and “60% of the time, it works every time” are now among the most recognizable idioms in the American lexicon. (Full disclosure: I just spent 30 minutes deciding which Anchorman quotes to use in the previous sentence. I imagine that’s what picking your favorite child is like, if all your children were hilarious, perfectly delivered, and always extended you invitations to the pants party.)

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Ron Burgundy's Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream Top

All of which is to say, we are long overdue for a new Anchorman movie. With Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues coming out soon, I am absolutely willing to support any and all Anchorman-related promotional tie-ins, especially if they callback my favorite quote and incorporate my favorite liquor. (I’m also planning to test drive a Dodge Durango this weekend.) Last night I purchased a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ron Burgundy’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch ice cream with great excitement.

In preparation for eating some scotch-flavored ice cream, I had created a whole list of moderately pompous scotch-related adjectives to use in this review. (In my mind, that ice cream’s late palate was going to be complex and peaty, with an oaky yet balanced finish.) Alas, Scotchy Scotch Scotch actually has no scotch flavoring; rather, it’s butterscotch ice cream with butterscotch swirl. I got over my initial disappointment and tried a couple scoops anyway.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Ron Burgundy's Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream Bowl

Scotchy Scotch Scotch is very tasty in small servings but likely too rich to be enjoyable in larger doses. The butterscotch ice cream base was extremely creamy, sweet, and flavorful. That base by itself would have already done butterscotch proud, but then I got a taste of the crunchy ribbons of candy and, boy, that escalated quickly.

The experience was almost nostalgia-inducing, given how much the ice cream tasted like a Werther’s Original butterscotch. I really liked the textural contrast between the cream and the butterscotch candy bits, but altogether it was relentlessly sweet. I could’ve used some saltiness or sourness to add a little balance, à la Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby or Cherry Garcia.

I wouldn’t recommend you buy a whole pint, but if you happen to be near a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop, you should definitely drop by and try a scoop of Ron Burgundy’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch. In small servings, it’ll take you to Pleasure Town. (Yes, I really had to drop in one last Anchorman quote. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.)

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 280 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Ron Burgundy’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $6.50
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Ice cream base was flavorful, sweet, and creamy. Crunchy candy swirl provides great textural contrast. Tastes just like a butterscotch hard candy. Single malt scotch. Those Dodge Durango commercials. Anchorman 2 is coming soon!
Cons: Relentlessly sweet. Could’ve used some saltiness or sourness. Not actually scotch flavored. Scotch-related pomposity. Picking your favorite child. Bacardi 151. Using Anchorman quotes way too frequently.

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REVIEW: Coolhaus Louis Ba-Kahn Ice Cream Sandwich

Written by | October 22, 2013

Topics: 7 Rating, Ice Cream

Coolhaus Louis Ba-Kahn Chocolate Chip Cookie + Brown Butter Candied Bacon Ice Cream

In 1992, my mom fell into the craze that was the Bacon Wave, and when you have a dishwasher-friendly, $19.99 reusable rack specifically devoted to making pork products in 60 seconds, there is no reason not to have pounds of crispy pig belly coming out of that microwave as often as possible.

It was during these breakfasts that Cupid struck my knees, knuckles, and toes with 28 arrows, all of which were directed at ways to enjoy bacon. I had it on sandwiches, astride pancakes and waffles, with syrup, without syrup, in grilled cheeses, between Pop-Tarts, chased with eggs, covered in cinnamon roll goo, and in its simple, unmasked, curvy-crispy form. Yes, I had bacon in all these ways, but never in an ice cream sandwich.

Until today.

Lo and behold, a company has mass-produced an ice cream sandwich that a) is roughly the size of a mastadon’s kneecap and b) contains bacon. Yes, indeedee, smashed in those two giganto-mongous discs is Coolhaus’s Louis Ba-kahn, an ice cream sandwich composed of chocolate chip cookies and brown butter and candied bacon ice cream.

Coolhaus Louis Ba-Kahn Chocolate Chip Cookie + Brown Butter Candied Bacon Ice Cream Cookie Sandwichy glory

Cue the trombones and the trumpets. Heck, pull out the entire wind orchestra, because this ice cream sings. If Ben and Jerry’s could be considered super premium ice cream, this stuff would be ultra super mega platinum premium ice cream (or some other absurdly adjective-filled variant thereof). This softball-sized scoop melts slower than me on the way to a dentist appointment, allowing the consumer to take his/her glorious time. Taking a bite sans bacon, this crème de la vache has a presiding taste of sweet, sugary cream with a backdrop of vanilla.

Tasted on its own, the brown butter flavor of the ice cream eludes me, but when eaten with the brown sugar chocolate chip cookie, the nuttiness of the butter smooshes with the brown sugar in the cookie to create some nutty, sweet gastronomical frenzy. It is here that I realize I am embarking on an ice cream frontier not even Bear Grylls has trekked before. Every bite highlights the thick custard. This is not made by a waif Skinny Cow. This must be a Paul Bunyan cow: a big, friendly bovine living a happy life munching on daisies in a field somewhere.

But brown butter bacon ice cream cannot live without its Porky Pig compatriot. Luckily, small crispy bacon speckles are given a generous showing. These little dots of joy retain the look and feel of sprinkles, adding salt-and-smoke speckles throughout. It’s magic. I’m convinced this is the stuff Peter Pan’s pixie dust is made of.

And let us not forget the vessel of delivery: the chocolate chip cookies. This particular riff has a soft crumb, yet remains pliable, sturdy, and doughy enough to hold the mini mountain of ice cream inside (no small feat). Unfortunately, the chocolate chips in the cookie are too scarce to contribute their cocoa glow, but the vanilla bacon brown sugar combination is enough to make up for the loss.

Is this a good ice cream sandwich? You bet, but, considering the price tag, I’d encourage it to push itself just a smidge further. Bacon, while beautiful, can be an assertive flavor and, at times, I found it overshadowing the sensitive vanilla and brown butter, which made me sad. There is no need for sadness here. Something to bring back the sweet nuttiness, maybe a peanut butter swirl or a cinnamon sugar cookie, might’ve kept the sweet-and-nutty flavors in check with the bacon.

Coolhaus Louis Ba-Kahn Chocolate Chip Cookie + Brown Butter Candied Bacon Ice Cream In the shadow of the wrapper

But I’m nit-picking here. In the end, Coolhaus delivered a solid, innovative showing. At over 500 calories, my doctor might dub this a, “sometimes food,” but you know what they say: live life to the fullest because you never know when you’ll get smooshed by a display of canned tuna. So go out there, avoid getting smooshed, and maybe eat some bacon brown butter ice cream while you’re at it.

(Nutrition Facts – 520 calories, 250 calories from fat, 26 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 4 gram of dietary fiber, 46 grams of sugars, and 8 grams of protein.)

Item: Coolhaus Louis Ba-Kahn Ice Cream Sandwich
Purchased Price: $4.89
Size: 1 sandwich
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Loads of ice cream. Bacon sprinkles. Nutty, salty vanilla cream. Cookies actually hold giganto scoop of ice cream. Innovative. Made from happy cows. Reasons to buy a Bacon Wave.
Cons: Brown butter flavor can get muddled. Cookies could use more chocolate chips. Pricey. Getting smooshed by canned goods. Dentist appointments.

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QUICK REVIEW: Mikawaya Lychee Exottics Gourmet Ice Cream

Written by | October 15, 2013

Topics: 8 Rating, Ice Cream, Mikawaya

Mikawaya Lychee Exottics Gourmet Ice Cream

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Nijiya Market
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Spot on lychee flavor. Not overly sweet. Wonderful way to enjoy lychee when it’s not in season. Airiness makes it easier to scoop. If I had no willpower, it would be gone in 15 minutes. Oh wait, I don’t have any willpower. Will someone please take this pint away from me?
Cons: Why are there two T’s? Why aren’t there three X’s? Not as creamy as premium ice cream, like Häagen-Dazs. Airiness gives it a texture similar to frozen dairy dessert. Its bright white color may blind you if the sun hits it at the right angle. Might be difficult to find.

Mikawaya Lychee Exottics Gourmet Ice Cream Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 1/2 cup – 150 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 6% vitamin A, and 10% calcium.

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