Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ice cream review: Giffords Roasted Coconut

Ice cream review by John
Score: 4 out of 5 scoops
Company: Giffords

This was the first time I tried an ice cream from these Silver Spring, Maryland, folks, and I can't say I was disappointed.

What you've got here is a base made with a solid vanilla ice cream, then toasted coconut flakes strewn throughout. And it works. I'm a big coconut fan, so I was almost assured to like this ice cream, but I was surprised at the depth and richness of the coconut flavor without it going over the top. Too often coconut candies and ice creams suffer from either the coconut overtaking all other flavors or hardly being there at all, but in this instance the coconut flavoring was just right, mixing well with the vanilla ice cream to bring a delicious treat to your tongue.

I have to say this wasn't exactly the smoothest or creamiest ice cream I've ever had, but it was right up there near the top. I'll be giving other Giffords ice creams a try. I hope they're all as good as this one!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ice cream review: Ben & Jerry's half baked

Ice cream review by John
Score: 2.5 out of 5 scoops
Company: Ben & Jerry's

Considering this is basically a mixture of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream and Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, two ice creams that are not favorites but I still enjoy, you might think this particular ice cream would go over well with me.

But it doesn't.

Though I'll admit I'm not a hundred percent sure it is the fault of Ben & Jerry's. I've tried this ice cream several times from different stores, though all in my region, and every time this ice cream has been very dry, almost powdery, reminding me somewhat of powdered chocolate milk mix. Maybe this ice cream simply has that kind of texture, but I'm wondering if a bad batch was delivered to my area or if something else is going on because normally I at least like Ben & Jerry's ice creams.

Also, the chocolate overwhelms here, leaving the vanilla practically nonexistent in the flavoring. Also, the cookie dough is swamped by the chocolate and the fudge pieces, so you can't really taste them either.

All in all, this is one Ben & Jerry's flavor I'm not likely to try again anytime soon, though I might consider it the next time I'm traveling away from home.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ice cream review: Ben & Jerry's Boston Cream Pie

Ice cream review by John
Score: 3.5 out of 5 scoops
Company: Ben & Jerry's

I can't quite call this a favorite from Ben & Jerry's, but it is still a darn good ice cream. What they've done here is start with a base of Boston Cream Pie ice cream, then add some small flakes of chocolate fudge, mix in some chunks of yellow cake and finally swirly around some pastry cream.

All of it comes together into a pretty good mix. But I have some quibbles.

First, the pieces of fudge are tiny, so tiny I could barely taste them at all. Second, while all of the ingredients here are quality and taste well enough on their own, the mixture didn't quite work for me. It wasn't that it tasted bad, just that the combination of all these flavors didn't quite mesh. How to explain this? The various ingredients here worked against one another, leaving a final flavor that was sort of like Boston Cream Pie in that is was sweet, but overall I couldn't taste much of anything other than that vague sweet flavor. Too much of a mixture for me, I suppose.

I think an improvement would have been to have one of the elements here to be a little stronger. Larger or more robust fudge flakes would help, as possibly would stronger-flavored cake pieces. It might also help if the flavoring of the base ice cream was just a little less overpowering, drowning out the flavors of the other ingredients.

Still, a quality ice cream and worth trying.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ice cream review: Ben & Jerry's Bonnaroo Buzz

Ice cream review by John
Score: 4.5 out of 5 scoops
Company: Ben & Jerry's

I am not a big fan of coffee ice cream. Nor do I like malt ice cream. Whiskey caramel is not a favorite. And English toffee is one of my least favorite candies.

Guess what? This ice cream includes all of those, and it ROCKS!

That's right, Bonnaroo Buzz from Ben & Jerry's is a mixture of malt and coffee ice creams with a whiskey caramel swirl and pieces of English toffee. By all rights, I should not like this ice cream, but it I love it.

I'm big on textures in my ice cream, and here there is plenty of that with the chunks of toffee throughout. I always like caramel, though usually not with a whiskey bent, but here it works, providing a creamy sweet smoothness that takes this treat to a higher level. And while I normally don't care for malt or coffee ice creams, Ben & Jerry's has combined them to perfection, giving a hint of each flavor but neither one being overpowering.

Bonnaroo 2008 Live DvdAnd in case you're wondering, this ice cream is named for the Bonnaroo Mustic & Arts Festival held annually in Tennessee. This festival has been done proud by this Ben & Jerry's flavor.

If you've not tried this ice cream, rush out and do so. If your local stores do not carry this ice cream, then by all means beg them to get it. You'll relish this fine treat.

Ice cream review: Skinny Cow Strawberry Cheesecake

Ice cream review by John
Score: 3 out of 5 scoops
Company: Skinny Cow

What you've got here is your basic low-fat cheesecake ice cream with a strawberry swirl running throughout. As can be expected, because this is a low-fat product, the flavor is somewhat lacking. This is by no means an awful ice cream, it's just not a great one.

The cheesecake ice cream portion I found to be someone bland, and it has that spongy, almost rubbery texture common to low-fat dairy products.

Where I thought this ice cream shined the most was with its strawberry swirl. No, it doesn't taste like fresh strawberries, but it has a kind of strawberry jelly or gel quality that reminds me of some strawberry candies. Here I felt it worked.

It's a far cry from the quality of ... oh, let's say Ben & Jerry's Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream, but if you're on a low-fat diet this is not a bad choice to make for a dessert.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ice cream review: Ben & Jerry's Strawberry Cheesecake

Ice cream review by John
Score: 5 out of 5 scoops
Company: Ben & Jerry's

Yes, I'm an ice cream snob, but when it comes to strawberry cheesecake or strawberry cheesecake ice cream, I'm an even bigger snob.

And this one makes the grade, making it a personal favorite.

The actual ice cream here is strawberry cheesecake flavored, and it's got the expected high quality from Ben & Jerry's. But there's more than just the ice cream. There are sizable slices of strawberry to be found here, and they are quite fresh tasting, bringing an added layer of texture to this treat. But where this ice cream really shines is with the addition of a graham cracker swirl.

Did I say "graham cracker swirl?" Yes, I did, and it is one of the best swirls to ever be included in any ice cream ever made. It's smooth yet slightly crunchy, all at the same time. And it's got a fantastic mix of sweet with a hint of salty, as any good graham cracker should. This stuff is so good, I almost wish Ben & Jerry's would sell a container full of it by itself.

If you love strawberry cheesecake and ice creams flavored as such, do yourself a favor and try this. I've yet to find a strawberry cheesecake ice cream that is better. And if you know of one, by all means, let me know, too!

Ice cream review: Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream

Ice cream review by John
Score: 5 out of 5 scoops
Company: Ben & Jerry's

This is a personal favorite, so I just had to give it 5 scoops.

What's so great about this ice cream? Well, it's named for comedian Stephen Colbert, for one thing. That right there should be enough to get you to try this treat. But for your taste buds, this vanilla ice cream includes a caramel stripe running through it as well as pieces of waffle cone covered in a layer of fudge. If that description won't get you to try this ice cream, then nothing will.

Here Ben & Jerry's is at its best, mixing all that chocolate and vanilla and caramel with the waffle cone to create a concoction just short of heaven itself. The vanilla ice cream base is solid, as is always the case with Ben & Jerry's, and the caramel swirl is a true delight, sweet and creamy. But then there are the waffle cone pieces, which add a slightly crunchy texture. The fudge layering on the waffle cone pieces adds just a bit more complexity, and boosts the chocolate quotient quite a bit.

If you love vanilla, chocolate and caramel, you should love this ice cream. And if, like me, you enjoy textured ice creams, the waffle cone pieces add to the fun.

Ice cream review: Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia

Ice cream review by John
Score: 3.5 out of 5 scoops
Company: Ben & Jerry's

Let me tell you right up front, I'm not much of a cherry fan. That being said, I have to add, this ice cream won me over. I didn't expect to like it, at least not much, because I mean ... come on, I've yet to have a Ben & Jerry's flavor that actually sucked.

Anyway, the cherry here is not too strong, which I find is the case in many cherry ice creams, candies and cakes. The cherry flavoring here is light, just enough to give a little of that fruity zing. There are pieces of cherry in this ice cream, but they are small and not enough to imbalance the texture.

You chocolate fans need to pay attention to this one. Yes, there are little pieces of fudge throughout, and they really shine here. Honestly, if someone torn off the label and told me this was a chocolate ice cream with a little fruit added, I would have believed them. That's how strong those fudge shavings can be here.

All in all another excellent flavor from Ben & Jerry's. I can't wait to try another one!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ice cream review: Skinny Cow Caramel Cone

Ice cream review by John
Score: 2.5 out of 5 scoops
Company: Skinny Cow

A scoops score of 2.5 is right in the middle when the top possible score is a 5. Which is right where this ice cream belongs, in my opinion. It's not a great ice cream, but it's not awful.

First off, you need to know this is a low-fat ice cream. So, it's obvious that affects much of the taste.

What you've got here is caramel ice cream with a caramel swirl and chocolate-covered pieces of ice cream cone. Sounds great, right? Well, the ice cream isn't all that creamy, and it has that flat, almost bitter aftertaste common among low-fat foods. The caramel swirl is pretty good, though not quite great, being fluid and sweet on the tongue. The chocolate-covered cone pieces are also decent, but they're awfully small and there's not that many of them.

If you're looking for a great-tasting ice cream, this is not it. But if you are trying to stay on a diet and are searching for something that can help with your sweets craving, there are worse choices to make.

Dieting folks, this one's for you. As for true ice cream snobs, look elsewhere.

Ice cream review: Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie

Ice cream review by John
Score: 4 out of 5 scoops
Company: Ben & Jerry's

Imagine the smooth coolness of a York Peppermint Pattie combined with the chocolaty crunch of a traditional Oreo cookie. Only better.

If you can do that, then you'll have an inkling of how good this ice cream happens to be.

This is not an ice cream that's drowning in chocolate, so you hardcore chocolate fans might be a little disappointed, but there's still plenty of chocolate kick that most will be more than satisfied. For that matter, if you're that much of a chocolate fan, you should probably just go eat chocolate ice cream. Right?

Those of you who love mint should be happy with this fine treat, and the cookie crunch adds a level of texture that is too often forgotten in lesser mint ice creams. That mixture of crunchy texture and smooth mint is one of the big appeals to this frozen dessert, taking it a step or two above most other mint ice creams.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ice cream review: Starbucks Vanilla Bean Frappuccino

Ice cream review by John
Score: 3.5 out of 5 scoops
Company: Starbucks

Um ... ah ... slurp ... yum ... Ah, pardon me. I'm kind of busy finishing off the last of my Starbucks Vanilla Bean Frappuccino.

I'm normally not one for relatively plain ice creams that don't have a bunch of stuff in them, but I have to admit this is pretty darn good ice cream.

It's not the smoothest vanilla I've ever tasted, but it does have a better texture than any of the premium brands I've tried. The flavor is strong enough to give you that vanilla oomph, but it's not over the top as some of the higher-end vanilla ice creams sometimes tend to be.

Apparently this treat is made with vanilla beans from Madagascar, which is a nice touch.

And for those of you who do not enjoy coffee, you do not have to worry about that here. There is no coffee involved in making this ice cream, and there is not a coffee flavor present.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ice cream review: Häagen-Dazs Peppermint Bark

Ice cream review by John
Score: 4 out of 5 scoops
Company: Häagen-Dazs

Don't let this holiday ice cream fool you. At first glance it looks like simple vanilla ice cream with a couple of chunks of chocolate and maybe a little red candy tossed in. But it's not. It's so much more than that.

For one thing, that vanilla ice cream isn't vanilla ice cream. Nope, it's a white chocolate ice cream. And that's just the beginning of the pizzazz.

Mixed in with that ice cream are a few chunks of peppermint candy, but more importantly there are tons of pieces of peppermint bark candy.

And if you don't know about peppermint bark candy, you are missing out. Peppermint bark is quite simple, actually, though I have seen different types in stores. The peppermint bark in this ice cream appears to be a thin layer of milk chocolate beneath a layer of white chocolate, atop which is sprinkled little pieces of hard peppermint candy. Add all this together and you've got a great candy, but combine it with the white chocolate ice cream and you've got one of the best holiday ice creams available in grocery stores.

The next time Christmas and Kwanzaa and Hanukkah roll around, do yourself a favor and get a pint or more of this awesome ice cream.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ice cream review: Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Ice cream review by John
Score: 4 out of 5 scoops
Company: Ben & Jerry's

Chocolate fans are going to love this one. Ben & Jerry's is known for some pretty darn good ice cream flavors, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie is no exception. The chocolate here is one of the better ones from the larger brands, with enough creamy texture to keep any chocoholic satisfied and enough actual chocolate flavoring to satisfy the taste buds of sweets fans. Mixed in with all that chocolaty goodness are chunks of fudge brownies, most about the size of a small dollop of cookie dough. In my experience, there's enough of the fudge brownie chunks that just about anyone who loves chocolate and brownies should be pleased.

What are the downsides? Not many, but there have to be some otherwise I would have given this ice cream a perfect score of 5 out of 5 scoops, right? To tell the truth, there aren't really any downsides here, it's just that I have had better ice creams, ice creams that were smoother and full of even more chocolaty goodness than is found here. But that being said, most of those better ice creams tend to be your higher-market ice creams which are not always that easy to find. Most grocery stores, however, will carry Ben & Jerry's, and many will carry this particular flavor, so you shouldn't pass this one by if you are in the mood for chocolate and you're not shopping at a specialty establishment.

Truly, this is one of the better chocolate ice creams available. So give it a whirl. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ice cream review: Häagen-Dazs Caramel Apple Pie

Ice cream review by guest
Score: 4.5 out of 5 scoops
Company: Häagen-Dazs

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times … “It’s as American as apple pie!”

The largely patriotic and appetite-inducing phrase evokes images of mom baking away in the kitchen like no other idiom that stirs the salivary glands. The buttery crust that melts in your mouth, the delicate crisp sweetness of the apples … ahh … What could make it any better? Caramel. My answer is ALWAYS caramel.

Here is yet another taste triumph for Haagen-Dazs; it’s their Caramel Apple Pie ice cream. It starts with the milky smoothness of the apple ice cream that has petite portions of juicy tasting apple bites mixed with a hint of cinnamon. Then add in the rich, flaky, buttery piecrust pieces throughout. To perfect this icy delight, there’s the light swirl of velvety caramel running through each spoonful.

I recently tried and reviewed another ice cream in this limited edition line of Haagen-Dazs. It was the Spiced Peach Crumble. Whatever cooking process Haagen-Dazs uses, they get it exactly right. The fruit pieces are just the right balance of tender and yet they stay crisp with the freshest taste.

Do yourself a favor; pick up Haagen-Dazs Caramel Apple Pie ice cream. It will transport you back to mom’s kitchen table and the apple pie that makes you feel at home again.

Ice cream review: Häagen-Dazs Rocky Road

Ice cream review by guest
Score: 4.5 out of 5 scoops
Company: Häagen-Dazs

I have the pint of Haagen-Dazs Rocky Road ice cream in my hand and a spoon at the ready. There’s just one more thing I need … Weird Al Yankovic singing his “revised” version of Joan Jett’s, “I Love Rock & Roll.”


“Baby, I love Rocky Road
So won't you go and buy half a gallon, baby?
I love Rocky Road
So have another triple scoop with me
*Jammin’ to that wicked accordion solo*

The ingredients for Rocky Road are simple: chocolate, marshmallow and almonds. The secret is getting the blend of these three elements just right. Haagen-Dazs has done it again. The milk chocolate flavor of their ice cream is called their signature flavor for a reason. You can taste the creaminess of the rich chocolate mixed with the sweetest, fluffiest clouds of marshmallow swirl and the delicate crunch of the roasted almonds. It is classic ingredients blended so perfectly that it creates something incredibly unique you will want again and again.