REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s The Tonight Dough Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's The Tonight Dough Ice Cream

You may think it’s harmless, generous even, to share this pint with your friends.

Don’t.

It seduces and, thus, accumulates a distressing number of amorous relationships. Give a bite here, share a bite there, and suddenly you have callers all over you, ringing you at 2 in the morning to explain their dreams and tugging your arm to elope with them in Vegas. Go through all this and then where will you be?

In Divorce Court. That’s where.

You’ll have to deal with all that paperwork, the taxes, Judge Mallory. Take it from me: avoid Divorce Court. Don’t share. Save the whole pint for your awesome self. Here’s why:

Ben & Jerry's The Tonight Dough Ice Cream-behold, horizons of dough ahead

Creamy and smooth with a melt slower than Blue Bunny, but not as creamy as a small-batch Gelato Fiasco, the ice cream stands up to the Ben and Jerry standard I’ve come to know: mild, sweet, and inoffensive, if a bit bland. The caramel portion is milky and sweet with the tang of cooked sugar coming in at the end while the milk chocolate portion leans strongly toward the milk with a dry, cocoa-forward finish.

For those looking for dynamically punchy bases, the ice cream alone is not something you’d hoard in your underground nuclear bunker. But then the mix-ins arrive and explain everything: the base is but the palate cleanser. The humble binder of goods. The tabula rasa for a dairy-inspired art installation worthy of the MoMA.

Ben & Jerry's The Tonight Dough Ice Cream gobs and swirls

And it all starts with the cookie dough chunks. There are gobs of them. Everywhere. Gobs of salty-sweet-and-gritty peanut butter dough. Gobs of familiar, sugar-forward chocolate chip dough. Big gobs. Little gobs. Standard gobs. But mainly big gobs. I eat the gobs. You should, too.

Then there’s the cookie swirl: a thick ribbon of gritty dark chocolate wafers so delightful, it may sully forth magical woodland creatures to Twitter about you. With its taste of Oreos and firm integration of bitter-laced sugar throughout the pint, this is the slightly liquefied embodiment of childhood nostalgia. Aside from a snowplow that harnesses the energy of three Hadron Colliders, I can’t think of anything I’d like more.

Ben & Jerry's The Tonight Dough Ice Cream empty bowl of sadness

And after all that’s over, the bowl’s empty, and it was worth it to not share. It was creamy with a mild base that allowed for those excellent mix-ins to shine like so many sequins on a WWE Wrestler at a European discotheque. Sure, the base is mild and the whole thing is composed of already-existing mix-ins, but these elements are combined in a such a way that allows the Whole to be elevated to a new level: gritty, sugary, chewy, melty, salty, bitter, chocolate-y, and peanut buttery. All the elements of the food pyramid.

If you find the chocolate/caramel base too mild, maybe finish it off with some caramel or fudge. If you miss Fallon’s old iteration, perhaps top it off with potato chip chunkies. Or just scoop-scoop it into your bowl and never look back. I know I didn’t.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 310 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s The Tonight Dough Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $5.19
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Food Emporium
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Creamy. Chocolate-y. Peanut-butter-y. Balance of bitter, salty, and sweet. Gobs of cookie dough. The pint is all yours. WWE wrestlers decked out for the disco. Hadron-Collider-powered snowplow.
Cons: Caramel and chocolate bases are mild. No potato chip clusters. Divorce Court. Deluded lovers you don’t love who explain their dreams to you at 2 in the morning.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream

I have something to confess.

After reading what I’m guilty of, many of you will shake your head in disapproval. And some of you will become angry and say in a raised tone, “But children in Africa are starving.”

Well, here it goes. 

I’m a serial cookie butter waster. 

I’ve thrown out almost a dozen unopened and half eaten jars of Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter and Biscoff Spread. All the jars were gifts and I do enjoy cookie butter, but why did I neglect them?

I don’t know, the Cookie Monster, Mrs. Fields, Famous Amos, and Keebler Elves in my head won’t tell me.

If I have not finished a jar of cookie butter, will I be able to finish a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream?

The frozen treat is a combination of dark caramel and vanilla ice creams with speculoos cookies and a speculoos cookie butter core. Because there’s a lot going on, you can’t blindly stab your spoon into it like you would with most ice cream. You have to have the finesse of an archeologist working his or her way around the small bones of a velociraptor’s hand, because your goal, should you buy this ice cream, is to get a bit of every ingredient onto your spoon.

Because this ice cream is a bit high maintenance, don’t bother with a bowl. Doing so will just make it harder to get the optimal spoonful. This ice cream (and I imagine every Cookie Core flavor) is best eaten straight from the container.

Ben & Jerry's Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream Cookies

Now don’t waste your time trying the ingredients separately. I’ve already done that for you because I’m your junk food friend. The vanilla ice cream tastes like vanilla ice cream. The dark caramel has flavor that’s milder than the vanilla ice cream I guess it should’ve been called light caramel ice cream. The cookies are balls that may or may not be crunchy when you mash them with your molars. And the speculoos cookie butter core is pleasantly gritty and surprisingly soft straight from the freezer. But you shouldn’t eat the cookie butter by itself because it’s not as sweet as the cookie butters you can buy in stores.

Ben & Jerry's Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream Core

However, the cookie butter flavor is magically enhanced with the dark caramel and vanilla ice creams. It’s not like eating Biscoff Spread straight from the jar, but it has those flavors and spices we all love, like cinnamon and brown sugar, that make it taste familiar. Actually, at times, its flavor also reminded me of pumpkin spice.

Sadly, the speculoos cookies don’t really intensify the cookie butter flavor. It’s the same with or without. The cookies do add texture when you’re able to get a crunchy cookie, which happens only half of the time. Another inconsistency is the flavor of the cookies. A noticeable amount had no flavor at all.

With all that said, Ben & Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream is NOT spectacular. It is very good…if you get a little bit of the cookie butter, both ice creams, and a crunchy cookie on your spoon at the same time. But that won’t be a problem, because there’s enough of each.

It’s good enough that, unlike the jars of cookie butter I once owned, I see myself finishing this pint of Ben & Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 290 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, 10% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.75
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: It’s very good if you get all the parts of the ice cream on your spoon. Pleasant cinnamon and brown sugar flavors. Some cookies are crunchy. Cookie butter is soft, even straight from the freezer.
Cons: Not spectacular. Some cookies aren’t crunchy. Cookie butter core not good by itself. Dark caramel ice cream has a very light flavor. Some cookies have no flavor. Being a serial cookie butter waster.

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.

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.

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.