REVIEW: The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream

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.

Original

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Original

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.
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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.

Chocolate

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Chocolate

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.

Strawberry

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Strawberry

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.

Salted Caramel

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Salted Caramel

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.
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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.

Birthday Cake

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Birthday Cake

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

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream 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.

Key Lime

Not Available.

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…

Overview

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

REVIEW: Canada Dry Pomegranate Ginger Ale (Canada)

Canada Dry Pomegranate Ginger Ale

What is Canada Dry’s Pomegranate Ginger Ale?

It now seems like a thousand years ago, but before a certain microbe forced us all indoors, I traveled to Canada for a weekend jaunt, and of course, loaded up on new and interesting food and drink.

I discovered that up north, Canada Dry is adding pomegranate to its ginger ale. Whaaaa? I love a good pomegranate (when I’ve got the time to sit and free the seeds from the membranes – and don’t even bother telling me all your lifehacks for this – the only way is to settle in and pick), and I love a good ginger ale, so how could I pass this up?

It’s a deep red color – without the label, I would’ve thought this was a new Mountain Dew flavor.

Canada Dry Pomegranate Ginger Ale 2

How is it?

The aroma in the bottle was mostly ginger ale, with a touch of sweet fruity something.

Flavor-wise, again, it was ginger-ale-dominant, with a slight fruity tang. I find pomegranate, when not consumed as a fresh fruit, can often taste like a non-specific berry or fruit, and that’s what happened here. It reminded me of cranberry-flavored drinks/foods. Sadly, I haven’t tried the Canada Dry Cranberry soda, so I can’t compare them directly.

But while the flavor might not have read as real pomegranate, I really liked it. It was more toned-down than the color of it suggests. It felt like a hint of candy added to the usual ginger edge. I enjoyed it more than the recent Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Lemonade and Ginger Ale and Orangeade flavors.

The label says it’s a limited time offer, but I could see this as a year-round product – there’s nothing about the flavor itself that pegs it to a certain season.

Canada Dry Pomegranate Ginger Ale 3

Is there anything else you need to know?

It doesn’t seem like this has officially crossed the border yet. Hopefully it does soon.

Conclusion:

If you like ginger ale, this is one you should try, if you find it. It retains its ginger-ale-ness while adding a lil’ something.

Purchased Price: $2.29CAD
Size: 500ml (16.9oz) bottle
Purchased at: Loblaws
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (500ml bottle) 190 calories, 0 grams of fat, 70 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 48 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Fudge Brownie M&M’s

Fudge Brownie M M s

What are Fudge Brownie M&M’s?

Fudge Brownie M&M’s promise to be “everything you love about homemade brownies without even turning on the oven!”

How are they?

I was skeptical that candy could deliver the same experience as a baked good, but they really captured the essence of it!

The candy piece itself is large, like the size of a peanut M&M. But instead of a peanut center, it’s a chewy chocolate core that represents the fudge brownie.

Fudge Brownie M M s Innards

There’s definitely something to be said about the textural contrast of the hard candy shell with the chewy center. That something is: it’s good and creates a candy eating experience that I haven’t had before.

On the flavor front, when I first eat it, I get the classic M&M’s taste from the shell, followed with a subtle fudgy note. This fudginess becomes more pronounced as the shell dissolves. I wouldn’t mind even more brownie flavor, but I get it – there’s only so much “batter” you can pack into a half-inch candy piece.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Fudge Brownie M M s Colors

Aren’t M&M’s usually pretty uniform? I noticed that they were a bit lumpy looking. However, this did not take away from the flavor or overall eat for me!

Conclusion:

How many flavors are there now?! It’s a bit overwhelming on-shelf, but this one is worth a try — look for the light purple bag with Ms. Brown!

Purchased Price: $2.98
Purchased at: Walmart
Size: 9.05 oz.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 oz/28g/11 pieces): 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 18 gram of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Birthday Cake Kit Kat

Birthday Cake Kit Kat

What is Birthday Cake Kit Kat?

This limited edition Kit Kat features frosting-flavored white crème and rainbow sprinkles.

How is it?

Artificial birthday cake flavor has its fans and its detractors, but, despite its arguable overuse, I am definitely a fan. The rich sweetness and pops of color always evoke childhood memories of opening a fresh can of Funfetti frosting — and plunging a spoon into its creamy depths.

However, I write this review now as a sophisticated adult who eats vegetables of her own accord and no longer considers Lunchables to be “unpretentious charcuterie boards.” (Okay, only most of this sentence is true some of the time.)

Nowadays, I enjoy birthday cake flavor mostly in smaller doses and when it is paired with a complementary flavor or texture. If you like Birthday Cake Oreo Cookies, but thought Birthday Cake Hershey’s Kisses left something to be desired, then we might be of the same icing ilk.

Birthday Cake Kit Kat Wafers

Birthday Cake Kit Kat meets this most important criterion, as its crispy wafer insides pair well with the sweet white crème coating. The crème’s frosting-inspired flavor is spot on. I detected a hint of buttery taste that is often lacking in other birthday cake products that rely too heavily on sugar and artificial coloring as substitutes for flavor.

Birthday Cake Kit Kat Fingers

The rainbow nonpareils stand out beautifully against the white crème coating, giving the candy a cheery, fun appearance. They also provide a bit of extra crunch, which is not evident in every bite. Initially worried that the sprinkles would overwhelm the product and result in a gritty texture, I was pleased with their subtle effect.

The only thing I did not like about this Kit Kat is that the oil in the coating left a feeling of “mouth coat” that I haven’t experienced with other Kit Kat products.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Celebrating its 85th anniversary of production this year, Kit Kat has experienced a recent renaissance, with the release of its Duos line and lemon and raspberry seasonal varieties — all of which I have really enjoyed. With more flavors rumored for release this year, Kit Kat is proving an old dog can learn new tricks.

Conclusion:

Birthday Cake Kit Kat executes a familiar flavor perfectly and enhances both texture and flavor with rainbow sprinkles. Kit Kat fans and frosting fiends will celebrate having another reason to visit the candy aisle.

Purchased Price: 88 cents
Size: 1.5 oz (42 g)

Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Popcorn Chicken

Jack in the Box Popcorn Chicken

What is Jack in the Box’s Popcorn Chicken?

Well, it’s popcorn chicken from Jack in the Box. They’re bite-sized, breaded pieces of 100% all-white meat chicken that’s available in Classic and Spicy flavors. Every order comes with your choice of dipping sauce, and it comes in a container with a fun design that I’ll be adding to my fast food packaging collection that my son will inherit someday and promptly throw away.

How is it?

Jack in the Box Spicy Popcorn Chicken

My order of Spicy Popcorn Chicken looks either spicy or burnt, but after eating a few, it’s definitely the former.

Jack in the Box Spicy Popcorn Chicken Dipped

Its flavor reminds me of Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, but more intense and, maybe, slightly more heat. It tastes fine sans sauce, but I preferred to dip them into the ranch and honey mustard sauces I asked for.

Jack in the Box Classic Popcorn Chicken

But if I decided to order Jack’s Popcorn Chicken again, I’d go with the Classic one. Both varieties are good, but my taste buds seem to be drawn more to the golden brown ones.

Jack in the Box Classic Popcorn Chicken Juicy

Its breading is seasoned enough that I ended up mostly eating it without a dipping sauce. The chicken was surprisingly juicy with the meatier pieces, although the ones I ate at the bottom of the container weren’t as much.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Both varieties have a pleasant crunchy exterior that I wish Jack’s Chicken Nuggets had.

The Popcorn Chicken is available a la carte or as part of a combo box with double the chicken, small fries, and a small drink. The box has a suggested price of $4.99, but I bought it a la carte for $5.99 (the combo sells for $7.99 here on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean).

Don’t be like me and order it separately. Get the box. It’s worth it since it comes with double the chicken. The container may have a fun design, but it’s on the smallish side.

Conclusion:

I enjoyed Jack in the Box’s Popcorn Chicken more than its nuggets, which I find to be subpar when compared with McDonald’s and Wendy’s offerings. So give it a try, but get the combo box.

Purchased Price: $5.99 each*
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Classic), 7 out of 10 (Spicy)
Nutrition Facts: Classic – 260 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 1120 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 17 grams of protein. Spicy – 260 calories, 1 gram of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 3 grams of trans fat**, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1290 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 18 grams of protein.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

**I’m pretty sure the fat numbers for the Spicy one, taken from Jack in the Box’s website, are incorrect.

REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs Soft-Dipped Ice Cream Bars

Haagen Dazs Chocolate Soft Dipped Ice Cream Bars

Sometimes gravity sucks.

I’m pretty sure even Issac Newton realized that after the umpteenth apple hit his head.

While he had apples to prove how not awesome gravity can be, we have chocolate-dipped ice cream bars. Taking bites into them causes sweet tectonic plates to crumble, shift, separate, and, thanks to our “friend” gravity, eventually fall to the ground or clothing where the five-second rule is no longer applicable because the melty chocolate adheres itself to whatever it lands on. That causes some of us to let out an expletive or two internally or externally.

But Häagen-Dazs has solved this problem with its new Soft-Dipped Ice Cream Bars.

Haagen Dazs Soft Dipped Ice Cream Bars

They’re available with either vanilla, chocolate, or caramel ice cream, and all feature a soft-dipped chocolate truffle coating.

The ice cream has the typical Häagen-Dazs quality — creamy, sweet, and enjoyable. While the chocolate and vanilla varieties just feature their respective ice cream flavors, the third one also has a caramel swirl. But with the two bars I’ve eaten, there hasn’t been much of any gooey caramel goodness. None of the varieties stand out to me, probably because they’re basic flavors. I like them all equally.

Haagen Dazs Soft Dipped Ice Cream Bars Innard

As for the coating’s flavor, it has a pleasant cocoa taste that, with its slight bitterness, leans more towards dark chocolate. It allows some of the ice cream’s flavor to come through, but it pretty much dominates every bite.

But does the coating allow me to keep my Tide-To-Go Pen unsheathed whenever I eat these bars?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Out of the four bars I’ve eaten so far, I’ve only had a small loose piece fall to the ground with one of them. But that was with my most recent bar, and I think it was my fault because it happened while I was dancing to celebrate about how cool it is that the soft-dipped coating didn’t shatter with each bite. But, to be honest, it feels like it’s going to come apart, but it doesn’t.

Although Häagen-Dazs’ Soft-Dipped Ice Cream Bars have simple flavors, I appreciate the brand’s efforts here with the coating that keeps me clean. It won’t earn the brand a Nobel Peace Prize in physics, but it has won my award for Ice Cream Bar That Will Make Me Swear Less and Does Not Force Me To Pre-Treat My Clothes.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free sample of the product (Thanks Häagen-Dazs). Doing so did not influence my review in any way.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 3-pack
Purchased at: Received from Häagen-Dazs
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bar) Vanilla – 250 calories, 18 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 14 grams of added sugar, and 3 grams of protein. Chocolate – 260 calories, 18 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, 15 grams of added sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Caramel – 270 calories, 18 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, 18 grams of added sugar, and 3 grams of protein.