A seasonal offering from the undisputed gelato king of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Talenti’s layered pumpkin pie offering goes: pumpkin gelato, pie pieces, brown sugar sauce, pumpkin gelato again, and more pie pieces.
How is it?
The first time I tried it, I wanted to call it “bland” or maybe “inoffensive.” You know, the Neil Diamond of frozen dairy-based confections. I didn’t like how I couldn’t easily get all three layers in one spoonful, or how the “brown sugar sauce” didn’t seem to have the cinnamon undercarriage brown sugar generally requires in a dessert setting. (Cinnamon is listed as an ingredient, for what it’s worth.) And while the pie pieces are, I don’t know, dough-like(?), overall, the texture is one-note and is missing a good crunch.
But then I had some the next day, and although nothing in the gelato had technically changed — the brown sugar sauce and the pie pieces were still limply uninspired — I found myself thinking everything was SO GOOD! SO GOOD! (That’s a Neil Diamond reference for those of you who aren’t a 65-year-old aunt.) Instead of being upset with the gelato’s gentle nature, I found myself appreciating the subtlety of the pumpkin flavor. As an unabashed pumpkophile, I generally want my pumpkin to be aggressive and unapologetic; if you are not a fan this approach, however, you might enjoy this gelato.
Anything else you need to know?
Will Ferrell doing Neil Diamond doing an episode of VH1’s Storytellers on SNL in 1998 is seriously one of the greatest Ferrell moments in his tenure on the show. Drop whatever you’re doing, open another tab (don’t leave TIB, obviously), Google it and then watch the video. Tell me it’s not amazing, I dare you.
If you want an in-your-face, violent pumpkin gelato, this probably isn’t it. But if you’re in the market for a smooth, reasonable dose of gourdy goodness, this is a good bet. (Mostly because I don’t think there is a ton of pumpkin gelato out there to choose from.)
Purchased Price: $4.29 Size: 1 pint Purchased at: Target Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 280 calories, 13 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
It’s the newest and fanciest of all the Blue Bell ice cream flavors. It features chocolate French ice cream with fudge brownie chunks and whipped topping with chocolate flakes. What makes ice cream French, you might ask? It’s made with eggs, which makes it thick and custardy. Side note: custardy is fun to say, but if you keep saying it all day, people around you are likely to get annoyed.
How is it?
If you put decadence in the name, it better be something special. And this is. Before digging in, I thought maybe there would be too much chocolate going on. Instead, it was a perfect symphony of different chocolate flavors, all teaming up to make my mouth happy.
The brownies truly are decadent. They are chewy — almost even a little gooey somehow — and taste more like homemade brownies instead of the non-descript chunks in many ice creams. These brownies have a rich flavor, and there are plenty of them.
The ice cream is smooth and creamy, as it should be, with the perfect level of chocolatiness. It did remind me a little of custard, but I’m not sure if that was the power of suggestion from reading the label. Regardless, the ice cream did its part to keep the decadence rolling. The chocolate flakes are a bit overshadowed by the brilliant brownies, but they add some nice texture and taste to the mix.
The only letdown is the whipped topping. First, there is a lot of it — much more than just some swirls or ribbons like I was expecting. If it tasted great, that might be fine, but it really doesn’t. It’s like Cool Whip-flavored ice cream. In limited amounts, like as a topping, that could be a nice contrast to the chocolate, but it just seems like too much of it here. Even so, this flavor achieves its stated goal of being decadent. But despite my quibble about the whipped topping, it’s a big winner.
Anything else you need to know?
If you do not reside in the southern third of the country, you may not be familiar with Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries. You also might think it is the same company that makes Blue Bunny ice cream. It’s not; Blue Bunny is headquartered in Iowa.
This is where I must deliver a stern warning, just in case you ever happen to discuss this topic with someone from Texas. Unless you are fixin’ to start a kerfuffle, or perhaps even a brouhaha, DO NOT ask a Texan if Blue Bell and Blue Bunny are the same thing. And, even more importantly, DO NOT say that Blue Bunny is better than Blue Bell unless, of course, you are looking for an all-out donnybrook.
I’m not originally from Texas, but I have lived in the state long enough to know that many Texans will defend the honor of Blue Bell until well…wait for it…they are blue in the face. You have been warned.
If you don’t live in Blue Bell country and really want to try it, you can order four half-gallons directly from the creamery for overnight delivery, but I have another warning. It’s not cheap, and depending on where you live, it might almost be cheaper to fly to Texas and try it in person. Just for fun, guess how much it is to get four half-gallons (costing about $20 at the grocery store) overnighted to your door.
Since I’m not a native Texan, I do not have an innate love of Blue Bell and feel like I can be an impartial judge here. My verdict is that this is one of my new favorite ice creams, and I’ll shed a little tear if it doesn’t become a permanent member of the Blue Bell lineup.
Is it worth $135 if you can’t get it in your area? No, of course not. But I’ve got a lot of family “up North,” as Texans refer to most other states, and I’d be happy to bring you some for the bargain price of $125 next time I’m visiting.
Purchased Price: $5.85 Size: Half-gallon Purchased at: H-E-B Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 240 calories, 15 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
What are Market Pantry Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream and Apple Crisp Ice Cream?
One has pumpkin cheesecake-flavored ice cream (made with pumpkin puree) with a graham cracker swirl. The other features artificially flavored apple crisp ice cream swirled with caramel and oatmeal pieces. Both are seasonal varieties at Target.
How are they?
Well, let’s start with the Pumpkin Cheesecake one. If you force-fed this pint to me and said it’s pumpkin cheesecake-flavored, I’d grab the pint from your hand, get a clean spoon (because I don’t want any indirect kissing), force-feed you a spoonful, and then ask you in the most dramatic tone I could muster, “Is it pumpkin cheesecake-flavored?”
I initially notice cheesecake tang, but that quickly goes away with the first spoonful. With subsequent spoonfuls, all I taste are pumpkin, spices, and gritty graham crackers, which, according to Thanksgiving math, equals a pumpkin pie. As a pumpkin pie ice cream, it’s delightful and accurately hits all the pie’s flavors. But without having that tang throughout, it doesn’t convince my mouth that anything cheesecake is involved.
The apple crisp ice cream base has a mild taste similar to Fuji apple-flavored products I’ve had. But when eaten with the caramel, the apple is heightened. The oatmeal pieces, when my mouth finds a whole one, have a taste and texture that reminds me of Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal. Their crunch and subdued sweetness are a contrast to the other two components.
While the Apple Crisp one is also tasty, a few spoonfuls had an off flavor. It’s not anything that made me spit it out, but it’s a striking difference to the other spoonfuls.
Anything else you need to know?
This is my first time experiencing Market Pantry Ice Cream. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long. It’s not as if the price is holding me back since pints cost half of any name brand. I’m also not a brand name snob because I’m typing this on a $7.99 BingoTechStyle Bluetooth Keyboard I bought on Amazon that’s no longer being sold.
Both are super easy to scoop. I’m talking frozen dairy dessert easy. Maybe air should be added to the ingredients list?
If you’re looking for high quality, dense ice cream this fall season, look elsewhere. If you want to enjoy inexpensive holiday frozen treats, Market Pantry’s Apple Crisp Ice Cream or Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream might satisfy your seasonal sweet tooth.
Purchased Price: $2.35 each Size: 1 pint Purchased at: Target Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pumpkin Cheesecake), 7 out of 10 (Apple Crisp) Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) Pumpkin Cheesecake – 200 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Apple Crisp – 190 calories, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
What is the Dairy Queen Caramel Apple Pie Blizzard
It’s one of the stars of the Dairy Queen Fall Blizzard Menu. It contains apple topping, pie pieces (or more accurately, pie crust pieces as I’ll explain below) and caramel coated truffles with vanilla soft serve and the obligatory garnish for all pies, whipped topping.
How is it?
Let me ramble a bit before I answer that question. I had high expectations for this Blizzard because I love me some apple pie. I’m not talking about grandma’s secret recipe pie with the steam rising from the top as it emerges from the oven. Yes, I’m sure your Gammy’s pie is delicious, but for some reason I’ve always been partial to the industrial strength versions.
The main reason I went to middle school every day (OK, most days, unless I could successfully fake a stomachache) was to get one of those tasty, sugar-loaded Hostess apple pies at lunch. And even now, I still tear up a little thinking about the long-extinct fried apple pie at McDonald’s, despite the real risk of permanent mouth injury caused by its hot-as-lava filling. This Blizzard reminds me of that Hostess/McDonald’s pie taste, without the latter’s third-degree burns. And the addition of the truffles make this something special.
There’s so much going on with this Blizzard, but everything blends together beautifully. This certainly isn’t the best-looking Blizzard ever, and even when you take away the whipped topping, it’s ordinary looking. But as I learned in middle school when I wasn’t eating Hostess pies, don’t judge a book, or a Blizzard, by its cover.
Because I am dedicated to my craft, I took the time to extract the three different pieces for you to examine (crust, apple, truffle from left to right). If it disgusts you to know that I had to suck and lick the soft serve off each piece, then just don’t read this sentence. I even dissected the truffle so you can see its guts spill out.
The crust pieces maintain their crispness even while encased in soft serve, the apple chunks deliver a subtle but satisfying fruit flavor, and the caramel coated truffles are very indulgent with their ooey-gooey center. It seems like most new Blizzards either feature chocolate or some sort of berry as the main component, so this one also stands out for being unique.
Anything else you need to know?
One of the other Blizzards on the fall menu, the Pumpkin Pie Blizzard, has “real” pumpkin pie pieces. But this one is worded a bit differently on the DQ website, which proclaims that it contains “apple topping” and “pie pieces.”
After perusing the list of ingredients and skipping over many, many words that I can neither pronounce nor define, I confirmed that the pie pieces here are indeed just pie crust pieces. That, of course, raises the question of whether a pie crust on its own is a pie, but I’ll let those more scholarly than I debate such topics. So to answer the question at hand — no, you didn’t need to know any of that.
The only thing that kept me from giving this Blizzard a perfect score is that the apple pieces are a bit small and rubbery, like they were harvested from a fruit cake. And if you take a bite that doesn’t contain a chunk of apple, there’s really no fruit flavor in the soft serve, so it might have been nice to get some kind of apple flavoring or sauce in there. But those are just minor grouses; overall, this is an exceptional Blizzard, and I’m happy it will be around all fall.
Purchased Price: $4.39 Size: Medium Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (Medium) 930 calories, 37 grams of fat, 26 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 420 milligrams of sodium, 133 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 103 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.
Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Cinnamon Bun Dough and Gingerbread Cookie Dough Chunks are the first Limited Batch and seasonal extensions of the brand’s snackable dough line that we’ve covered in previous posts.
What’s snackable dough? Well, it’s the gobs of edible dough that you’d find in pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but without the pesky ice cream in the way. J/k, B&J. I meant to say without the creamy, sweet, tasty, and pesky ice cream in the way.
After opening the pouch of Cinnamon Bun Dough Chunks, my nose was treated to a small cinna-stravaganza. Sadly, sticking one’s nose in the bag is the only way to experience that. I had hoped it would make my office smell as if there was a Cinnabon pop-up in it.
I’m a sucker for large cinnamon rolls, but I’m not willing to regularly suffer the sugar bomb that large cinnamon rolls drive into my gut. So I appreciate being able to get the baked good’s flavor without having to eat one when I pop these dough chunks into my mouth.
These soft, chewy bites capture the cinnamon and tangy cream cheese frosting of the baked good wonderfully. There’s also a slight sugary crunch to them, which I am also a sucker for. But the flavors aren’t consistent between bites. Most times, there will be a strong cinnamon taste. But every so often, a chunk will have a strong frosting flavor. But whatever my mouth ends up with, it wants more.
The Gingerbread Cookie Dough Chunks have a bold and sweet ginger flavor, thanks to the candied ginger. Those who approach ginger gingerly might want to skip these. But it’s not just ginger all the time. There’s a bit of cinnamon, molasses, brown sugar, and cloves to help convince your taste buds they’re eating the holiday treat.
I do wish they were shaped like gingerbread people. But that’s probably asking for too much since they’re so small, not uniform in size, and constructing a production machine just for that is, I imagine, a pain in the gingerbutt to do. But these chunks are pliable enough that one could build or cutout gingerbread people on their own.
I’m partial to the cinnamon bun ones, but both varieties will not last long in my freezer because they taste fantastic. Or maybe they’re already gone and I don’t want to give away that I might’ve eaten them all by pouring them into my mouth as if they were potato chip crumbs at the bottom of a bag.
My only real complaints are that they should come in bigger pouches and the Cinnamon Bun Dough one should be available year-round. With the gingerbread being a holiday flavor, it’s understandable why it’s a limited batch product. But both Ben & Jerry’s original and non-dairy Cinnamon Buns pints are available throughout the year, so why not these dough bites?
If you want to give me a holiday gift this year, Ben & Jerry’s, having the Cinnamon Bun Dough Chunks available permanently would be a gift that keeps on giving. And when I say “giving” I mean giving me the option of avoiding Cinnabon by eating your dough chunks.
DISCLOSURE: I received free samples of the products. (Thanks, Ben & Jerry’s!) Doing so did not influence my review. Although, I can understand how it totally seems like it. But I assure you it did not.
Purchased Price: FREE Size: 8 oz pouches Purchased at: Received from Ben & Jerry’s Rating: 9 out 10 (Cinnamon Bun), 8 out of 10 (Gingerbread) Nutrition Facts: (2 tbsp/28 g) Cinnamon Bun – 120 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. Gingerbread – 110 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.
I am very open-minded when it comes to ice cream. There is merit to be found in premium, value-oriented, full-fat, and light varieties. I find myself purchasing light versions on occasion to help offset the sheer volume of ice cream I consume.
There are numerous healthier ice creams available now that allow one to consume an entire pint with a fraction of traditional ice cream’s fat, sugar, and calories. I have always seen the texture of these light ice creams as an area that needed improving. Oftentimes they are not as smooth and creamy as their full-fat counterparts. They can come across as overly icy.
Enter Nick’s Swedish-Style Light Ice Cream. The company manufactures light ice cream using sugar alcohols and a variety of plant-based sweeteners and fat. It says that because of its plant-based fat, “only Nick’s creates the unmistakable melt-in-your-mouth creaminess of full-fat ice cream, but with way fewer calories.” This is quite the lofty claim that I was eager to investigate upon receiving six pints directly from Nick’s.
Peanöt Butter Cup
I started with one of the more difficult flavors for light ice creams to nail. This ice cream is a peanut butter ice cream with tiny peanut butter cups. It has a nice, mild, and delightfully creamy peanut butter flavored base. The miniature peanut butter cups are adorable and delicious, but I could have gone for a few more of them mixed in.
Not mentioned in the description were a couple surprises in this one. There is a chocolate swirl that helps to pull the whole thing together. Oddly enough, there are also little bits of brownie dough. The chewy brownie pieces really help to elevate the experience as a whole.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 90 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 mg of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 6 grams of sugar alcohols and 4 grams of protein.
This is a classic strawberry ice cream. The vanilla base in this is mellow and, again, quite creamy. It serves its purpose well and allows the strawberry to shine. The strawberry ribbons are bright and fresh with abundant natural sweetness. The taste reminds me of preparing homemade ice cream with my parents when I was a child. It is on-par with most of the strawberry ice creams I have had.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 70 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 6 grams of sugar alcohols and 4 grams of protein.
Swedish Cookie Dough
I was most excited to try this one. It has a vanilla base, swirled with chocolate and pieces of sugar cookie dough. Unsurprisingly, this is just as smooth as the other flavors. The base is embedded with the taste of the buttery sugar cookie dough, even in a spoonful without a piece.
I also get a hint of cinnamon throughout, which gives the pint a borderline snickerdoodle vibe. The cookie dough pieces add a welcome and familiar grit. The chocolate swirl is mild and compliments the dough well. Overall, this was more complex than I was expecting, and it is incredibly tasty.
Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 70 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 5 grams of sugar alcohols and 3 grams of protein.
This flavor is a vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes and cherry bits. The base tastes more like cherry ice cream than vanilla, as the cherry pieces have imparted their flavor upon the whole pint. It is not at all artificial, which is wonderful.
The abundant dark chocolate flakes add a touch of richness and a satisfying snap in each spoonful. The best parts are the chewy cherry chunks. They bring a pleasant texture and a realistic tartness to the mix. When getting a bite with both components, this ice cream reminds me of a cherry cordial.
Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 70 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 5 grams of sugar alcohols and 3 grams of protein.
Swedish Lemon Bar
This ice cream is a little airier than the others but still feels just as creamy. Nick’s says that it is a cheesecake ice cream with ribbons of lemon. I get a little bit of cheesecake flavor in the base, but it ultimately reminds me of a lemon bar, as the name would indicate. There is also a subtle buttery taste in the base that makes me think of the shortbread crust in lemon bars.
The lemon ribbon here is the star of the show. It is bright, fresh, tart, and amazing. There are small, chewy lemon rind pieces incorporated throughout, and overall, it reminds me of candied lemon rind. This refreshing flavor is the most innovative of the bunch, and I have never had anything quite like it.
Rating: 10 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 60 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 4 grams of sugar alcohols and 4 grams of protein.
As a chocolate ice cream with brownie bits and a fudge swirl, this one seemed like it would be the most decadent. The chocolate base appears to be of the dark variety. It is slightly less sweet than I was expecting, with a touch of pleasant bitterness.
The fudge swirl tends to be overpowered by the base and does not make much of an impact. The brownie bits are chewy and enjoyable. It is a decent flavor, but much more subdued than I was expecting. As a fan of all things chocolate, I expected to like this one the most, but it’s actually my least favorite of the six.
Rating: 6 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 80 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 5 grams of sugar alcohols and 4 grams of protein.
Nick’s was not exaggerating the creaminess of its ice cream at all. These do not quite measure up to the most premium, velvety, full-fat ice creams, but one would be hard-pressed to identify these as light flavors in a blind taste test. Nick’s Swedish-Style Light Ice Cream is not just “good for light ice cream.” It is good, period. It will stack up well against many standard ice cream varieties.
I did some quick research on Swedish ice cream, and the search results predominantly bring up content about Nick’s. From what I can tell, there are not any distinctly Swedish methods of ice cream preparation. The “Swedish” moniker seems to refer to the brand’s creator.
According to its website, Nick’s has 14 patents, two in-house food scientists, and has performed over 100 flavor tests. This makes perfect sense because Nick’s Swedish-Style Light Ice Cream is an exemplary product. When deciding to purchase light ice cream in the future, I do not see myself buying any brand besides Nick’s from now on.
DISCLOSURE: I received free pints from Nick’s. (Thanks Nick’s!) Doing so did not influence my review.