As I walk through the deserted streets, I see empty Golden Corrals, abandoned Chinese buffets, and all-you-can-eat specials replaced with takeout options. What’s a person who wants to eat a large amount of “acceptable” quality food to do?
The Cheesecake Factory!
Unfortunately for me, the nearest Factory is over 100 miles away, and traveling two hours to eat takeout in my car isn’t something I’m desperate enough to do. Yet.
Thankfully, The Cheesecake Factory has released a new line of ice creams inspired by its namesake dessert.
This new line of ice cream is off to a strong start. The Original flavor has real cream cheese flavor and tang. The graham cracker crust pieces remain firm and have an appropriately gritty texture.
Eaten by itself, the crust pieces might be too salty, but when mixed with a bit of ice cream it obtains the perfect balance of sweet and salty. As someone who loves a nice slice of rich, dense, sit-like-a-rock-in-your-stomach cheesecake, ice cream can never replace that, but this will do in a pinch.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 360 calories, 23 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar (including 25 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.
The Chocolate flavor is less strongly reminiscent of cheesecake. I can taste an underlying acidic bite from the cream cheese and sour cream, but it’s difficult to detect and only barely manages to distinguish this dessert from plain chocolate ice cream. The chocolate fudge swirl adds some interest, but I miss those crust pieces.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 330 calories, 20 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar (including 26 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.
There’s not much mystery here. This tastes like strawberry ice cream mixed with Original flavor, and I heartily approve of this simple approach. The richness of the ice cream base mixes well with the slight acid of the fruit.
There are real strawberries mixed in here, so it avoids the off-putting artificial flavor that strawberry ice cream sometimes has. The graham pieces make a triumphant return, and make me wonder if there are snackable graham cracker crust pieces available. Maybe a cookie kind of thing? No, not just graham crackers. Someone should get on that.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 350 calories, 21 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 32 grams of sugar (including 28 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.
The ice cream itself seems only slightly caramel flavored, but when combined with the salted caramel swirl and especially salty graham cracker crust pieces, it’s very salt forward. There’s not as much cheesecake flavor as I’d like, but as with the Chocolate, the cream cheese and sour cream adds a mild tang that manages to set it apart.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 370 calories, 22 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 270 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar (including 28 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.
Here’s a question: if cheesecake is better than birthday cake (and it is), why would you make a birthday cake-flavored cheesecake? Though I was dubious of the concept, this ice cream has some good qualities.
The sprinkles melted away immediately without leaving waxy residue, and the cake pieces remained firm, with a nice chew. The blue goo swirls were…gooey. The flavor is vanilla, with hints of butter. It really tastes like birthday cake, but once again I feel that the cheesecake character should be taking center stage here, but is lacking.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 310 calories, 19 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar (including 26 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.
Cookies & Cream
I feel like I’m repeating myself, but there’s not enough cheesecake flavor here. This mostly seems like regular cookies and cream ice cream. The cream element allows some of the cream cheese to peak through, but not enough for me. Cheesecake Factory, listen to me: no one looks to you for a nuanced culinary experience. I want to be knocked out by the richness of your decadent desserts, even in an at-home offering.
Oh, and it looks like there are not only cookies pieces here, as is often the case, but full sandwich cookie pieces mixed in. That’s cool.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 320 calories, 19 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 28 grams of sugar including 25grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.
Let me ask you, what kind of psychopathic grocery store manager decides to stock six of seven flavors of a new product line? Sure, one might decide to only stock two or three flavors to test the local market, or maybe decide to go all in and order a full complement. But six out of seven? That’s a recipe for a full Moby Dick, Captain Ahab-style obsession with tracking down that last flavor.
I don’t know who’s who in this analogy. Am I the captain here and the store manager Moby Dick? Or is the white whale the Key Lime ice cream? Or am I the whale now, after eating so much ice cream? The point is, I have a new mission is life, and it’s to find new ice cream to eat. So, I guess nothing much has changed…
I wouldn’t turn any of these flavors away after putting away a giant plate of Cheesecake Factory’s Louisiana Chicken Pasta, several pieces of buttered brown bread, and an Ultimate Margarita or two. In for a penny, in for a pound (or several), after all. Yet, with the exception of the Original flavor and a few others, they don’t set themselves apart from their non-cheesecake flavored alternatives.
Purchased Price: $4.29 each
Size: 14 fl. oz.
Purchased at: Woodman’s Markets