REVIEW: Cookies & Cream M&M’s Cookie Sandwiches

I’m not going to tell you this combination of cookies, candy, and ice cream that make up these Cookies & Cream M&M’s Cookie Sandwiches isn’t good. I ate through three of them, all of which brought some delight into my life. I mean, it’s an ice cream sandwich, and the only person who could hate this is someone whose heart is colder than the freezers these need to be stored in.

But I will tell you that while the colorful M&M’s that adorn the chocolate cookies make these Instagramable, they also have an insufficient amount of flavor. I don’t know if the chocolate flavor from the cookies and cream reduced fat ice cream and the two cookies negate them, but my taste buds don’t notice the milk chocolate in the candies. I know they are physically there because the crack of their shells and the snap of the solid milk chocolate are a textural contrast to the soft cookies and ice cream.

Because of the lack of M&M’s flavor, these taste too similar to the 32:9 screen ratio-shaped ice cream sandwiches that we’ve all eaten with chocolate wafers that stick to your fingers and vanilla ice cream/frozen dairy dessert that runs down your fingers as it melts.

If anything, these Cookies & Cream M&M’s Cookie Sandwiches are maybe a half-step up from the classic frozen novelty because using cookies is slightly better than chocolate wafers. But it’s not enough to convince me to purchase a box of four over an equally-priced box of a dozen regular ice cream sandwiches. (They are available in single packs if you’re not willing to purchase a box.) Maybe I’d find these to be unique and a full step up from regular ice cream sandwiches if the cookies had some crunch instead of being as soft as the ice cream and if I could actually taste the M&M’s.

Geez, this review reads as if my heart is colder than the left side of a Whirlpool WRS571CIHZ side-by-side refrigerator. So I guess I must reiterate that I did enjoy these.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample from Mars. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 4 pack
Purchased at: Received from Mars
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 sandwich) 230 calories, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 21 grams of sugar (including 19 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Little Debbie Nutty Bars Ice Cream Bars

Little Debbie is getting a little too big for her britches.

A snack cake empire just wasn’t enough for Big Deb. Now she’s taking over the ice cream and cereal game too. If a chocolate treat is sold in the park, Notorious D.E.B. wants in on it, and ya know what? It’s working.

I’ve been hoovering up every new thing she slaps her name on, and on my way to literally getting too big for my britches. In fact, with the push to conquer the supermarkets, the Little Debbie empire’s new motto is “Britches get stitches.”

I’m sure you have your favorite Little Debbie product. For me, it’s always been Nutty Bars, formerly Nutty Buddies, or Nutty Buddies formerly Nutty Bars. I’ll be honest, I’ve lost track of the name and feel like I’m trapped in a Mandela Effect vortex. Either way, Nutty Blanks are amazing.

I loved the cereal Deb dropped a few months ago, so you know I had to try the ice cream bars.

Nutty Bars Ice Cream Bars consist of peanut butter ice cream dipped in a crispy milk chocolate shell. All the elements of the iconic snack bar are there, so it burns me to tell you that, well, these don’t really come too close to the OGs.

These are good, and I’ll give them credit for having a very satisfying texture. The ice cream is a perfect consistency for a bar like this. It’s not a frozen block, but it’s also not melty and holds its form well. The outer shell is actually top-tier, and the crispies are plentiful while adding a solid amount of crunch.

With that said, these just aren’t good enough for something inspired by the Little Debbie Nutty Bar.

The peanut butter ice cream is kinda bland. Not only does it not look like peanut butter ice cream, but it also doesn’t explode with peanut butter flavor.

I compared the ice cream bar to the actual Nutty Bars, and while those have a pretty mild peanut butter flavor in the grand scheme as well, the ice cream really needed to have a strong peanut butter taste to make these things pop.

While I like the crispies, what ultimately gets lost here is the wafer. Nutty Bars have such a perfect structure of delicate, diamond-sheeted wafers between the chocolate and peanut butter that these little dotted crispies never really had a chance. It just ends up tasting like it could be literally any ice cream brand’s generic crunch bar varietal.

So, I’d recommend these as an ice cream bar on their own, but not as a version of the Nutty Bar. The flavors just don’t pop enough. Whereas I actually think they did a great job on the cereal’s texture, these just never really get to where I wanted them to.

The collabs between Deb and the Hudsonville ice cream company seem to be going strong, so maybe they can go back to the lab and remix the flavors a bit. Just release them again as “Nutty Buddy Ice Cream Bars” in a few months and really mess with my head.

Purchased Price: $4.48
Size: 4 pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 Bar) 210 calories, 13 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Churro Dipped Cone

Successfully purchasing Dairy Queen’s new Churro Dipped Cone involved facing my two biggest fast food fears. On my first attempt, Dairy Queen had run completely out of what I’d come all the way there to get. On my second, I endured several awkward moments of blank stares from an employee who’d never heard of what I was ordering and had to confirm its existence through a lengthy chat with his manager. Fortunately, I was ultimately able to claim my prize, a big (seriously, am I the only one who didn’t realize just HOW large Dairy Queen’s “large” size is?), beautiful, rust-colored confection.

After all that hubbub, the Churro Dipped Cone — Dairy Queen’s classically curvaceous vanilla soft serve outfitted with a new churro-flavored shell — tasted like victory. It also tasted like, well, a churro. Sort of? It was certainly sweet and cinnamon-y (an apple cider donut was actually the first baked good it reminded me of, though maybe it’s just because I’ve had one recently), with a particularly zesty aftertaste thanks to the smattering of actual cinnamon sugar that coats the coating. But since it’s just churro-inspired without featuring any actual churro pieces, the classic crunchy texture is lacking. Though that’s not to suggest that the churro coating doesn’t have a lovely texture of its own! It was so thick that each time I bit off a flake, I was rewarded with an audible THUNK, and the ensuing experience of chomping into each hefty shard and savoring the sweetness and hint of spice as it melted in my mouth was wonderful.

Aesthetics-wise, I also appreciate that my cone didn’t look too uncannily perfect. The method behind DQ’s dipping madness involves dunking a naked vanilla cone into a vat of liquid which then solidifies around it into the iconic crisp coating. That means that each Churro Dipped Cone is unique, like the snowflakes that were fittingly falling around me as I sampled my seasonally inappropriate dessert. Mine certainly didn’t have the most even application, alternating between visibly thicker layers and bald patches with no coating at all. Those had the side effect of making it particularly messy to eat since, as the ice cream melted, droplets started gushing out through the gaps and all over my hands. I’m thankful the Dairy Queen employee had way more foresight than I did and provided me with a large bundle of napkins, all of which got used!

Prying off a bit of churro shell or lapping up some stray ice cream dribbles is all well and good, but my biggest gripe is what happened when I ambitiously tried to capture both elements in the same mouthful. The coldness of the ice cream immediately overpowered the mild flavor of the coating, suddenly rendering the subtle churro notes more or less tasteless. Dairy Queen’s vanilla ice cream is top-notch – rich, sweet, and creamy. It hits all the notes you’d expect and about as well as you could expect it to, but it wasn’t what I intended or expected to be the star of the churro show.

All in all, this tasty treat is as good an excuse to make a Dairy Queen run as any, but I’m not sure it will satisfy any actual churro cravings.

Purchased Price: $4.08
Size: Large
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 630 calories, 28 grams of fat, 22 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 682 grams of carbohydrates (EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the number on the DQ website, the medium has 40 grams so it’s probably 68 grams), 62 gram of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs Butter Cookie Cones

Haagen-Dazs was a staple in my household growing up, but I was always dismayed that it was Rum Raisin. But that’s what Mom liked, so that’s what we got!

Fast forward decades later, I usually have Haagen-Dazs’ Vanilla Milk Chocolate Almond Ice Cream Bars stocked in my freezer. It reminds me of a Drumstick, but fancy and without the cone. I share my journey with Haagen-Dazs as it entirely influences what I thought of its new Butter Cookie Cones.

This frozen novelty foray is commendable, especially since Haagen-Dazs launched not one, not two, but four flavors out the gate. But at $8.99 for a box of four, it won’t replace my usual bars.

Which four flavors, you ask? My 8-year-old self was very pleased that there was no Rum Raisin version. The “Butter Cookie Cone Collection” (Haagen-Dazs’ fancy website words, not mine) consists of the following:

Chocolate: Chocolate ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce, topped with chocolate curls and cookie pieces.

Strawberry: Strawberry ice cream and a tangy raspberry sauce, topped with white chocolate curls and cookie pieces.

Coffee: Coffee ice cream and espresso fudge sauce, topped with roasted almonds and cookie pieces.

Vanilla: Vanilla ice cream and a caramel sauce, topped with chocolate curls and cookie pieces.

Biting into the fancy curls and pieces actually reminded me of how much I enjoy eating Talenti Gelato Layers. Like Layers, the rich and creamy ice cream was a nice backdrop for all the pops of texture and added flavors from the toppings and cones.

Speaking of the fancy cone, it had the pasty look of an untoasted Pop-Tarts pastry than a golden butter cookie. Unlike Pop-Tarts, though, it was much thicker and didn’t have that same crumbly nature. It had more of a shortbread snap to it. I could bite into it easily, but I found it plain tasting. Most of its flavor came from the chocolate lining that went down into the bottom of the cone, probably to help prevent sogginess, like a Drumstick. Even though the cone was a bit plain, the most delightful bite of all the flavors ended up being the chocolatey tip/end of the cone.

I was also pleasantly surprised that the sauces were piped into the middle. So, halfway through the ice cream biting, I got either chocolate fudge, raspberry sauce, espresso fudge, or caramel sauce, which added another layer to the eating experience.

The vanilla flavor was like eating a Drumstick with a glow up. It was far from boring with the caramel sauce in the middle and cookie pieces! I usually order vanilla from ice cream shops because you can’t hide behind inclusions, and if a place has good vanilla ice cream, you know it’s legit! So, while I couldn’t confirm with my taste buds that this was made with Madagascar vanilla, it was smooth and luxurious, thus signaling high quality to me!

I experienced this same quality with the milk chocolate ice cream. Also, while the chocolate-lined cone had a chocolate base with chocolate fudge sauce and chocolate curls, they were varying degrees of cacao, so it didn’t taste one-note. The different depths of chocolate and the textures from the toppings kept things interesting.

My favorite was the strawberry one. The tanginess of the raspberry sauce and the sweet strawberry ice cream really mimicked a fresh red berry. With the cookie butter cone added into the mix, it was almost like eating a strawberry shortcake (with a touch of milk chocolate from the cone).

I had the coffee one last because I didn’t want it to take over my taste buds and cause the other flavors to taste muted. But it was more latte-like with cream and sugar rather than straight coffee, so my initial concern was not an issue. This was the only flavor with nuts, but while they were clearly almonds, they ate more like peanuts because they were a bit less crunchy than I expected. The espresso fudge was a lovely decadent touch and brought out more coffee flavor.

The back of their packages read, “Deliciousness unlike anything you ever tasted before.” They were indeed elevated, but worth $8.99 a box? The jury is out on that one, but it definitely piqued my interest. If Haagen-Dazs sold some single serve cones out in the wild, I’d get another, but I don’t want these boxes taking up precious ice cream bar space in my freezer!

Purchased Price: $8.99 per box
Size: 14.8 oz (four cones per box)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Vanilla), 7 out of 10 (Chocolate), 8 out of 10 (Strawberry), 7 out 10 (Coffee)
Nutrition Facts: (1 cone) Vanilla – 280 calories, 16 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 22 grams of total sugars (14 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein. Chocolate – 300 calories, 17 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 22 grams of total sugars (14 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein. Strawberry – 270 calories, 15 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 21 grams of total sugars (11 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein. Coffee – 280 calories, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 19 grams of total sugars (15 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Mousse Pie Ice Cream

Chocoholics unite! The final new flavor from Ben & Jerry’s 2023 launch lineup is an ode to one of the essential French-inspired American desserts, which definitely hits me with a bit of Americana nostalgia. Mousse Pie is milk chocolate ice cream with chocolate mousse swirls and chocolate cookie swirls.

Ben & Jerry’s chocolate base is a topic of contention amongst many ice cream bloggers. Some seem to think it’s lackluster and one of the lowlights of the brand, but I like it quite a bit, especially in my favorite classic flavor Phish Food. Regardless of my enjoyment of the normal chocolate base, I’m always happy to see the oft-forgotten milk chocolate get rolled out for a new creation. The base here is lighter and sweeter with a smooth milky flavor that reminds me of a throwback chocolate malt without the malty funk. Not quite as light as a vanilla-leaning Wendy’s Frosty, but it’s devoid of all the bitterness one usually gets from a typical chocolate base, and I enjoy it.

What I enjoy more, though, is the textural contrast with the chocolate mousse swirls. Unlike Topped Bossin’ Cream Pie, I’m actually able to differentiate between the base and the swirls in this pint, and I do get a lighter, fluffier texture that somewhat emulates the airiness of a mousse. It’s a fun and unexpected switch-up that really comes to life when you let this pint get all the way tempered to just shy of melty — if you pick this up, make sure to give it enough time to show its true colors.

As fun as the base and mousse are, the highlight of this pint is the chocolate cookie swirls. I’m no stranger to this staple B&J mix-in, and there’s a reason why it gets used so much. It’s gritty and buttery with a bittersweet chocolate taste that is very welcome amongst the milkier components. It has that classic Oreo-adjacent cocoa flare that drives home the flavor of the pie crust perfectly. It pops up in some bigger chunks throughout that carry a hearty, satisfying crunch — it’s a lot of fun.

Mousse Pie is essentially a lighter, in terms of both texture and taste, version of Ben & Jerry’s classic Chocolate Therapy. Overall I prefer Chocolate Therapy, which makes this one feel a bit redundant in the scope of the prolific and often innovative Ben & Jerry’s arsenal. However, I can’t deny how well the components play together, and the addictive-ness of that gritty swirl is enough to keep me happily digging to the bottom of this chocolaty abyss.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample from Ben & Jerry’s. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup, 139g) 390 calories, 24 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 34 grams of total sugars, and 6 grams of protein.