REVIEW: Milk Bar Ice Cream

Milk Bar Ice Cream Pints

If The History Channel created a “Food That Built America ’00s Edition” episode, Milk Bar and its founder Christina Tosi would be top billing. I mean, c’mon: you can’t deny Compost Cookies, Cereal Milk Soft Serve with Cornflake Crunch, and Crack Pie were unlike anything we’d ever seen until she burst onto the scene.

The first Milk Bar bakery opened in NYC in 2008, and I would have kind friends haul back packages of cookies for me until I could see that neon pink cursive sign for myself years later.

So, what’s the big deal? Tosi’s James Beard-winning culinary genius is tapping into nostalgic flavors like cereal milk and creating the perfect * chef’s kiss * balance of sweet and salty. I’ve found this true in all her delicious desserts at her flagship bakeries to her newest grocery store items.

The latest to hit shelves are Milk Bar Ice Cream Pints in four glorious flavors that are sure to make OG and new fans giddy. Here’s the rundown:

  • Birthday Cake: A love letter to Milk Bar’s signature sprinkle flecked layer cake with unfrosted sides, this flavor brings the same delicious layering effect with birthday cake-flavored ice cream, birthday crumbs, and ribbons of birthday frosting. All the celebration, any day of the week.
  • Cereal Milk: The flavor that started it all. Cousins to the Milk Bar bakery-favorite soft serve offering, this pint combines a Cereal Milk ice cream base with salty-sweet cornflake crunch. Tastes just like the bottom of your cereal bowl.
  • Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow: An ode to the bestselling cookie that combines an irresistible combination of cornflake crunch, chocolate chunks, and gooey marshmallow swirls throughout a cookie dough ice cream.
  • Milk Bar Pie: Deep vanilla ice cream swirled with a gooey butter filling and toasted oat crumble reimagines Milk Bar’s signature pie in ice cream form.

I figured they all be legit because of the Milk Bar brand. However, I also had a good feeling because the receipt detailed “Frozen Custard,” which signaled to me that this would be full flavor compared to an airy, less than 10% milkfat frozen dairy dessert.

Pie

Milk Bar Pie Ice Cream Spoon

I didn’t really know where to start, so I just dove in with the Milk Bar Pie variety. My fellow OGs know this as Crack Pie. Folks newer to Tosi’s empire may ask, “What kind of pie?!” and there ain’t no shame in that either.

I imagined that deep vanilla would be like a sweet cream ice cream, but it tasted more like caramel ice cream with the honey-like sweet notes smoothed out with a buttery richness. The oat crumble was more like crushed oats, but it cued the actual dessert’s crust very well. Unlike a cheesecake graham crust or flaky pie dough, it’s pretty flat. However, the creamy base was so dominant that the crumble didn’t taste particularly oat-like to me. All it did was get stuck in my teeth per usual with oat.

I briefly considered getting the actual dessert shipped so that I could eat a Crack Pie a la mode with Crack Pie ice cream. Excessive? Most definitely.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 13 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 220mg of sodium, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow

Milk Bar Cornflakes Ice Cream Spoon

But, I did try something similar with the Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow (C3M)!

First, I tried it on its own and WOWZA. I could not get enough of the marshmallow flavor, which was like having ooey gooeyness goodness around the campfire without all the flame, char, and ash! The cookie dough ice cream base really complemented and brought out the ‘mallow. The rest of the ingredients helped to seal the deal. There was great texture from the chocolate chips, which were more like rectangular chunks reminiscent of Ben & Jerry’s inclusions.

Additionally, the cornflake crunch was not soggy but not a frozen flake either, so I considered it just right on the texture spectrum. And guess what? They tasted just like cornflakes. Said corn flavor was as comforting as my childhood cereal.

Milk Bar Cornflakes Ice Cream Spoon Sandwich

As Milk Bar also sells a grocery-exclusive version (read: different from the ones in their bakery) of their cookies in the same exact flavor, I decided I would also use them to make an ice cream cookie sandwich. This is not a cookie review, so I’ll just concisely say that the ice cream MADE the sandwich – the key again being the marshmallow goodness. I’d prefer to eat it on its own, though!

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 300 calories, 19 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 110mg of sodium, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Cereal Milk

Milk Bar Cereal Mik Ice Cream Spoon

I was eager to try the Cereal Milk one after getting a taste of how good the cornflakes were in the C3M variety.

The pint itself really looked like the bottom of the cereal bowl with pieces of yellow cereal flakes peppered throughout. The ice cream itself was a bit more complex than just a sweet cream as I picked up on some saltiness. It wasn’t overwhelmingly so, though! I would liken it to putting a sprinkle of sea salt on a chocolate chip cookie and how that pinch really brings out the flavors.

When I had a spoonful with a density of cereal bits, the cornflakes definitely became more pronounced, and the texture turned into that of soggy cereal. I do prefer the cornflake crunch available as a topping in her bakeries, though. Maybe it’ll make it to shelves soon, so I can use it as a pint topping!

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 270 calories, 17 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 170mg of sodium, 0 grams of fiber, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 17 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Birthday Cake

Milk Bar Birthday Cake Ice Cream Spoon

Unintentionally saving the best for last, Birthday Cake was stellar. My first impression was that it was a bit sweeter than the others, as I’ve come to expect from cake batter ice creams. Additionally, as I was scooping, I saw unappetizing white bits that reminded me of ice chunks.

However, I was so wrong. They MADE the flavor as soon as my mind caught onto the taste of frosting. It reminded me of the childhood birthday cakes from the grocery store and brought me back to simpler and joyous times. This is the Tosi magic right here, folks.

The crumbs, though, seemed like an afterthought to me. I didn’t detect any added flavor or texture. As for the sprinkles, they did their job to add festive colors and a bit of that typical grittiness when you chomp them. I know that may sound unpleasant, but it reminded me of being a kid and eating allllllll the sprinkle-laden desserts. Birthday cake-flavored ice cream is never at the top of my list, but I will definitely keep this one stocked in my freezer!

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 300 calories, 19 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 85mg of sodium, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Milk Bar Ice Cream Pints Top

What a foray into precious grocery store space, Milk Bar! It’s a strong effort that should be rewarded with fellow shoppers snatchin’ up the pints for a treat unlike anything else in the frozen aisle today!

REVIEW: Blue Bell Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream

Blue Bell Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream Container

What is Blue Bell Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream?

It’s a whole lotta coconut with coconut flavored French ice cream with coconut flakes and pie crust pieces and whipped topping with toasted coconut.

How is it?

As one reader astutely pointed out in the comments in the prior “Spotted” posting for this ice cream, coconuts are among the most polarizing of all foods, right up there with black licorice and pineapple on pizza. There’s just not much middle ground for most people, including my wife and me. She loves coconuts, and I think they look ugly and taste nasty. But somehow we make our relationship work, despite widely divergent views on the subject.

Blue Bell Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream Top

Since it would be hard for me to objectively review this ice cream, I gave her the chance to experience the prestige, power, and considerable wealth that comes with being a reviewer for The Impulsive Buy!

So what did she think of it?

Well, she loved it, and surprisingly, I sort of liked it too. I didn’t like it enough to ever eat it again due to my dislike of all things coconut, but if Blue Bell ever does any different cream pie flavor in the future, then I’ll be all over it.

Blue Bell Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream Crust

The ice cream is wonderfully smooth and creamy with a very subtle coconut flavor. At first, my wife and I both thought our tub didn’t have any pie crust pieces, but after a few bites, we did indeed find some of the elusive gems. The crust pieces are virtually the same color as the ice cream, but they are worth the search as they have a great crumbly texture and buttery flavor. There are coconut flakes in the ice cream, which are also hard to see, but they don’t have much of an impact on the taste because they are so small.

Blue Bell Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream Swirl

As for the whipped topping, it has a bit of a Cool Whip vibe to it. The toasted coconut is what really delivers the signature coconut flavor here, and although that didn’t do much for me, it sent my wife into ice cream bliss. She just gave it one thumb up instead of two, but that’s only because she was using the other hand to eat a bit more.

Anything else you need to know?

Coconuts are really bad for you! OK, let me rephrase that because I don’t want to feel the wrath of the coconut industry. They are not bad for you, and they are an amazingly versatile fruit (not a nut) that can be eaten and used in many ways, including oil, water, milk, and over-priced carved souvenirs for tourists. But according to the USDA, if you eat an entire medium coconut (I assume minus the shell), you will consume 118 grams of saturated fat. How much is that, you ask? Well, that’s 590% of your recommended daily value, which seems like a lot. So don’t eat a whole coconut.

Conclusion:

Blue Bell Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream Dig

Kudos to Blue Bell for making a coconut ice cream that someone who has strong anti-coconut feelings can almost enjoy. If you do like the flavor of coconuts, you are wrong, but this is an ice cream you really should try.

Purchased Price: $5.97
Size: 1/2 gallon
Purchased at: H-E-B
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 260 calories, 14 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Van Leeuwen Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Ice Cream

Kraft Mac  Cheese Ice Cream Promo

What is Van Leeuwen Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Ice Cream?

Ever have the urge to dump a Kraft Macaroni & Cheese powder packet into a pint of ice cream? I kid you not – the ingredient list here is cream, milk, cane sugar, egg yolks, and Kraft cheese sauce mix. Of course, when the Van Leeuwen / Kraft Mac & Cheese truck set up in Manhattan and gave away free cups last week, I was there.

Why is this happening? Come on, it’s 2021. Stop asking – we’re beyond that now.

Kraft Mac  Cheese Ice Cream Scoop

How is it?

I did not like this – and I went in with an open mind. I’ve had an ice cream made with brie cheese that was delicious. I liked the French’s Mustard Coolhaus Ice Cream and Oscar Mayer Hot Dog Ice Cream. But here, I thought the levels of the sweet ice cream base and savory cheese powder were too equal, fighting each other for center stage. In the mustard and hot dog ice creams, the base vanilla was the star of the show, the novelty ingredients were accents.

This combo might have worked better if one of the flavors dominated. But as-is, it was a cheesy-sweet mess that was not refreshing on a blazing hot day. That being said, it wasn’t even close to the worst thing I’ve ever tasted, so I’ll throw it some points.

Kraft Mac  Cheese Ice Cream Sign

Anything else you need to know?

This flavor is currently sold out at all the Van Leeuwen shops and online. So if you really want to try it, keep checking for a restock. Or just drop a powdered cheese pack into a pint of vanilla ice cream.

Conclusion:

People have said they liked it. Now, I like A LOT of stuff. Scroll back through my reviews at the ill-advised stuff that I’ll defend. But I can’t here. Only go for this if you’re a hardcore curiosity seeker.

Purchased Price: Free Giveaway
Size: approx. 3 oz. serving
Purchased at: Van Leeuwen ice cream truck
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: not available

First photo courtesy of KraftHeinz. Scoop and sign photos courtesy of Steve Flack (mine melted too fast to photograph!)

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked Ice Cream

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked Pint

What is Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked?

Ben & Jerry’s first limited batch release of 2021 is a twist on its #1 flavor — Half Baked. The twist? Unbaking it hence the Totally Unbaked moniker. Instead of chocolate and vanilla ice creams being mixed with the usual cookie dough and fudge brownie gobs, it’s mixed with cookie dough gobs and brownie batter swirls.

How is it?

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked Spoon

The classic base flavors were as delicious as expected from the Vermont duo. The ensemble of rich chocolatey notes with a trill of fudge and the bass of familiar vanilla and cookie dough sang in perfect harmony.

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked Dig

I am a texture fiend, though, so I was a little worried that it would lack in that department, especially since the brownie batter swirls look more like subtle ribbons. I wishfully thought they would add some nuance like the way the chocolate pudding swirls do in the Chocolate Therapy flavor, but no dice. However, the cookie dough and mini chocolate chips carried Team Texture just fine while maintaining the usual eat-straight-from-the-pint scoopability.

Anything else you need to know?

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked Comparison

I found it more chocolate-forward when comparing head-to-head with its OG counterpart because the brownie batter was dispersed throughout for a fudge-y bite in nearly every spoonful.

Conclusion:

Pick it up if you see it! It’s a limited batch flavor – which means it changes 4-6 months – so it’s an excellent way to shake up your ice cream rotation. However, it’s not as novel as its Topped or Core innovations.

But a Limited Batch variety can become a permanent flavor like Peanut Butter Half Baked, so you never know!

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup/142 grams) 380 calories, 20 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 37 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein.

REVIEW: KIND Frozen Pints

KIND Frozen Pints Containers

KIND, the purveyor of various fruit & nut bars and other snacks, has released its new Frozen Pints. These frozen non-dairy desserts seem to emulate the flavors of the other products made by KIND.

I snagged three flavors: Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Caramel Almond Sea Salt. Though I couldn’t find them, there are four other flavors available, including Cherry Cashew and Strawberry.

Before digging in, I examined the ingredients labels and found a surprise. The primary ingredient in all three is pear juice, which I thought was curious. Beyond that, all three employ nuts to establish their non-dairy bases. Eager to see how they fared, I dug right in.

Caramel Almond Sea Salt

KIND Frozen Pints Caramel Almond Top

The color of this one was lighter than expected, and I could smell the caramel upon opening it. My spoon glided effortlessly through the almond-based frozen dessert. Most non-dairy ice creams that I’ve had were all quite icy, so this creaminess was a pleasant surprise.

KIND Frozen Pints Caramel Almond Spoon

As I took my first bite, the smoothness was further reinforced. The caramel immediately walloped me in the taste buds. It seemed to be mostly integrated into the base, but there were some faint caramel ribbons throughout as well. As I acclimated to the caramel, I could sense the saltiness, but it was not overbearing. The almond pieces rounded out the flavor profile and added a nice contrasting crunch. Overall, this is an enjoyable, but slightly unexciting, take on salted caramel.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 290 calories, 15 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar and 6 grams of protein.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter

KIND Frozen Pints Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Top

The Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter’s carton says it’s a “creamy chocolate frozen dessert made from peanuts, with dark chocolate chunks and a peanut butter swirl.” The base looked chocolatey, but also overly grainy.

KIND Frozen Pints Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Top

Upon trying to insert my spoon, I was met with a much fiercer resistance than that of the Caramel Almond Sea Salt. It was quite icy, as is typical of many non-dairy frozen desserts. It tasted primarily like peanut butter, with just a hint of chocolate. The dark chocolate chunks add complexity and crunch while bringing more chocolate flavor to the forefront. The grittiness is noticeable when eating it as well. I prefer the taste of this one over the caramel, but its texture is a bit of a deal-breaker.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 280 calories, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.

Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt

KIND Frozen Pints Dark Chocolate Almond Top

Like the caramel flavor, the Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt is almond-based. Chunks of dark chocolate and almond pieces peeked out of the top. I hesitantly inserted my spoon into the pint and was relieved to find out this one is creamy also. Upon tasting, I was instantly able to tell that almond was the predominant flavor.

KIND Frozen Pints Dark Chocolate Almond Spoon

The almond pieces and dark chocolate chunks added a rewarding crunch, but there isn’t enough chocolate. This tastes too much like almond-on-almond, which could be remedied by a more generous helping of chocolate. The salt was barely noticeable. The flavor was pleasant enough, but it left me somewhat unsatisfied. The creaminess is the saving grace here.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 290 calories, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar and 6 grams of protein.

Final Observations

The KIND Frozen Pints are certainly in the same spirit as the rest of their products. Their subtle sweetness satisfied on a level akin to KIND’s other offerings. The Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter was the standout flavor for me, by far, but its dreadful consistency significantly lowers its standing. This could be related to the use of peanuts in the base rather than almonds. The Caramel Almond Sea Salt was the sweetest, but none of them are particularly sugary. If you are in the market for a non-dairy ice cream, these may be worth a shot, especially if you are fond of nuts.

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Fry’s