Pumpkin pie – homemade, if you please, in a graham cracker crust, if you prefer, and hopefully served following a 3,500 calorie expedition through turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes – has long ago reached that point of singular dessert transcendence in which the evolutionary process takes over, undergoing a transformation into all manner of other delicious items. Case in point? Ice cream, including Blue Bunny’s new Spiced Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream.
Pumpkin-flavored ice cream is unapologetically delicious, although hardly earth-shattering. Virtually every major ice cream player has capitalized on mixing pumpkin puree and the usual suspects of spices within the magical confines of frozen cream and sugar, and none have been downright bad. That said, Blue Bunny has got some stiff competition, especially when they’ve forgone the standard whipped cream topping for, ahem, “marshmallow swirl.”
They certainly nailed the spice aspect if nothing else. It’s floral and powerful. It’s multifaceted and gives each lick a sophisticated ethos of falling leaves and cool temperatures. Frankly, when middle schoolers learn about the spice trade in their history classes and ask the proverbial “so what?” teachers should shove an ice cream cone of this in their faces and make them say thank you to the Portuguese.
The taste of pumpkin is solid, but by no means exceptional. You know that flavor pumpkin pie takes on in the oven? That deep, brown sugar and caramelized natural sugar flavor? Yeah, it’s not there. If you’re like me and looking for an exceptionally deep pumpkin flavor, Blue Bunny’s rendition just doesn’t compete with the pumpkin bases of Edy’s and Hershey’s.
What does compete is the graham cracker ribbon. Some graham crackers suffer from staleness or overly fake flavors when put into ice cream. Not this one. The flavor is classic and mellow with the right mixture of crunch and whole wheat flavor to remind you of Nabisco’s Honey Maid Graham Crackers. It’s a nice counter to the assertive pumpkin spice, and needed textural contrast to the smooth base.
While the pie crust pieces in the ribbon are exceptional, the ice cream base begs for more of them. Those of you familiar with Turkey Hill’s Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream will notice how little graham pieces there are and how they aren’t as crunchy in Blue Bunny’s version. Likewise, the ice cream base feels like it should be richer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s smooth and creamy, but the taste of cream just seems overshadowed by the floral notes of the spice. As far as the marshmallow swirl? Eh, can we just leave that on the sweet potato casserole? The only white swirly stuff I want on my pumpkin pie is whipped cream.
It’s a scientific fact that you can’t screw up pumpkin pie and Blue Bunny’s Spiced Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream is no exception. Yet like Red Velvet and other desserts turned into ice cream, it could do better, especially in an ice cream aisle filled with so many competitors.
(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 150 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)
Item: Blue Bunny Seasonal Selections Spiced Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 1.75 quarts
Purchased at: United Supermarkets
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Exceptional pumpkin spice flavor. Smooth texture and mouthfeel. Graham cracker swirl tastes like Nabisco Honey Maid Graham Crackers. Educational resource for apathetic middle schoolers.
Cons: Pumpkin flavor lacks baked depth and richness. Too sweet. Needs more graham cracker ribbons. Marshmallow fluff instead of whipped cream.