Thursday, May 19, 2016

New Flavors from Ben & Jerry's - 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

It is no secret that I love ice cream.  I grew up eating it pretty much every night after dinner.  Sometimes just a simple scoop, or uh, two, but more often than not, we made sundaes.  Or topped our homemade pie with it.  Yes, I was spoiled.

I grew up in New Hampshire, not far from the Ben & Jerry's factory in Vermont.  To me, the generic brand of ice cream was Ben & Jerry's.  Even the farm stand where I worked sold Ben & Jerry's, it was that commonplace.  Pints were 2 for $5.

I moved a bit further away for college, to upstate New York.  But Ben & Jerry's was prevalent even there.  Our little on campus diner stocked pints, and we had the option of redeeming our meals for grab and go items from the diner instead.  I will not admit how many pints I got over the years, and how many I may or may not have consumed in a single sitting.

It amazed me once I left my nest to learn that Ben & Jerry's is a bit of a novelty to people elsewhere.  For many years, I didn't have any in San Francisco.  Why would I pick that, over our local, artisanal choices?  But eventually, the craving for that experience of just digging shamelessly into a pint of Ben & Jerry's returned, and, so I did.

I've reviewed the flavors I've had over the past few years before, so I'll spare you a repeat, and this time, focus on the brand new flavors that they added in the past few years.  Ben & Jerry's always adds a few new flavors every year (and of course, sends some to the "flavor graveyard" to make way for them).  Many don't last long.  Flavors that are removed are often mourned.


This year, the new Salted Caramel Blondie is quite a winner.  I hope it sticks around!
Salted Caramel Blondie, single, 2014.
"Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Blonde Brownies & a Salted Caramel Swirl"

This is an excellent new addition.  Basically a blondie sundae, turned into an ice cream.  The only thing it was missing was whipped cream.

The ice cream base apparently was sweet cream, although I assumed it was just basic vanilla.  Creamy, rich, good base.  Standard Ben & Jerry's.

The caramel swirl was exactly what caramel should be.  Buttery, sweet, delicious.  I didn't actually taste much salt, which would have been better perhaps, but it was pretty delicious as it was.  If they just removed "salted" from the product name, I wouldn't have minded the lack of salt.  The caramel was particularly fascinating because it didn't get hard, even inside the cold ice cream, it still stayed pleasantly runny, like caramel that had just been poured over an ice cream sundae.  My only complaint, which is a bit silly, is that there was too much caramel.  It was very sweet, and at one point, I wished to have a little more ice cream to balance out the plentiful caramel.  Perhaps that was just my scoop.

And finally, the blondies.  Chunks of just the right size, big enough to know you got a goodie, but not too big to be annoying to eat.  Sweet, classic blondies.  And again, like the caramel, I was impressed with how they didn't get hard.  They somehow stayed perfectly soft inside the cold ice cream.  Ben & Jerry's knows how to work magic here.

So overall, definitely a winner, and one I'd gladly get again.  Salted Caramel Brownie is only available in Scoop Shops, although a similar offering, Salted Caramel Brownie Core, is available in pints.  That one is the same sweet cream ice cream with blondie bits, with a caramel core down the center of the pint.  It seems like the amount of caramel you get in a scoop could be more easily controlled with the core version, although I did like it being all mixed in.

I also had the chance to sample the other new flavor, Cotton Candy: "Cotton candy ice cream loaded with cotton candy pieces."  It tasted, you guessed it, like cotton candy.  Super sweet.  I'm sure this is a huge hit with children, but for me, not quite something I'd want a full bowl of.


The Tonight Dough™, Single, 2015.
"Caramel & Chocolate Ice Creams with Chocolate Cookie Swirls & Gobs of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough & Peanut Butter Cookie Dough".

Wow, this had a lot going on, almost giving Everything But The ... a run for its money.

Let’s start with the base.  I didn’t realize that the caramel ice cream was actually caramel, I assumed it was vanilla, or perhaps sweet cream.  So, it was there, but it certainly wasn’t overly sweet, which is good, as a flavor with so many components easily could have been overwhelmed by too sweet ice cream.  The other ice cream was classic chocolate.  I don’t tend to care for chocolate ice cream, and probably would have preferred this to be all just the caramel flavor, but, the ice cream base is really not the interesting part of this flavor.

The interesting part, as is common with Ben & Jerry's, was the mix-ins.  First, the big shocker for me: "chocolate cookie swirls".  Now, I didn't really know what a "cookie swirl" was going to be, but I somehow thought something like chunks of a cookie.  Nope. Instead, the cookie was crumbs, integrated throughout as, well, a swirl.  It does match the description quite well, now that I think about it ... anyway, I really liked it!  It was almost like bits of brownie, but easier to bite through since it was loose, if that makes any sense.  Really a great texture.

Next, the cookie doughs.  I was seriously impressed with the amount of cookie dough in here.  Tons of chunks, all large sized.  Ben & Jerry's really nails the eating experience of this one, with the chunks large enough that you really, really get to enjoy your cookie dough, and don't need to struggle to build up a few little chunks in order to build your own ball (you do that too right?).  The chocolate chip cookie dough was standard Ben & Jerry's cookie dough, presumably the same as from their regular cookie dough ice cream, which I've reviewed before.  The peanut butter cookie dough was actually the reason I picked this flavor, I was very interested to see what that would be like.  Similar to the chocolate chip dough chunks, just, sans chips.  I actually didn't taste that much peanut butter to it, and would have preferred more.

Anyway, this was a good flavor.  I was worried that so many add ins would make it a disaster, but, it worked.  Not my favorite flavor, and probably not one I'd order again, but if someone had some, I'd certainly dig in.
Two Wild & Crazy Pies™.
"Coconut cream & chocolate cream pie ice creams with a chocolate cookie swirl."

I was inspired to get this one solely due to the chocolate cookie swirl.  I loved the chocolate cookie swirl in Ben & Jerry's Milk & Cookies flavor, and really just wanted more of it.

But this ... wasn't great.  I actually blame my scoop shop, as I think something was wrong with their freezers.  The ice cream was all crystalized.  That is NOT normal for Ben & Jerry's!

I love creamy chocolate ice cream, and instead, this was just icy.  I didn't taste much coconut, which is fine, I didn't really want to, it doesn't seem like chocolate and coconut would make that great of a mix anyway.  But the cookie swirl that I was soooo looking forward to?  Without creamy ice cream to go with it, it was just additional icy bits.

This made me really sad.  The texture was just sooo wrong.  If it wasn't my birthday free scoop(s), I certainly would have gone back to say something.  I blame the freezers.

Also tried:
  • Spectacular Speculoos™: "Dark caramel & vanilla ice creams with speculoos cookies & a speculoos cookie butter swirl".  Tasting Notes: I wanted to love this, but it was icy, and the texture was all strange.  I'm glad I asked to try it first.
  • The Tonight Dough ™: "Caramel & Chocolate Ice Creams with Chocolate Cookie Swirls & Gobs of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough & Peanut Butter Cookie Dough."  Tasting Notes: This is a case of too many good things don't add up to great result.  Every ingredient was individually great, but, together they became too much, and I couldn't taste anything in particular.


Spectacular Speculoos™ on top, Empower Mint on bottom. April 2016.
Two scoops this time, because you know how hard decisions are!  Starting from the top:

"Dark caramel & vanilla ice creams with speculoos cookies & a speculoos cookie butter swirl."

I picked Spectacular Speculoos to give it another try, because on my previous try, I disliked it because it was strangely icy.  I assumed that was a problem with ice cream storage, not inherent to the flavor, so, I wanted to give it another chance.  Plus, I have a co-worker who loves Speculoos, and I think his mentality is rubbing off.

It was ... ok.  I really didn't taste dark caramel ice cream, it just seemed like vanilla to me.  There were chunks in it, but I couldn't distinguish between cookie chunks and the cookie butter swirl.  Also ... I guess I just don't love Speculoos.

Overall, fine, not icy this time, but, not for me.  I won't get this one again.

"Peppermint ice cream with fudge brownies and fudge swirl".

I was pretty excited about the Empower Mint though, a brand new flavor, not even on their website yet.  I love mint and chocolate.

The ice cream was clearly not just vanilla, but, it wasn't as minty as I would have liked.  I didn't find a distinct fudge swirl, just, some vaguely chocolately bits.  There were decent size chunks of brownie though, soft, rich, good brownies, but, somehow, not really what I wanted in my mint ice cream.

So, overall, I wanted more mint, and, I wanted the chocolate in a different form.  I think I wanted mint chocolate chip with real hot fudge on top.  Or some kind of crunchy chocolate mixed in.


Another year, another birthday free scoop, and chance to try some new flavors (including the trendy cereal milk flavors).  No real winners this year.
Milk & Cookies. Small. (August). $5.25.
"Vanilla Ice Cream with a Chocolate Cookie Swirl, Chocolate Chip & Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies."

On this visit, I tried a few new flavors, and decided to settle on my old stand-by, Milk & Cookies.

I didn't love it this time around though.  It seemed to have a lot more chocolate components than I remembered, and, the signature chocolate chip cookie bits, that were more like a swirl before, were fairly non-existent.

Time to try some new flavors ...
Pistachio Pistachio. (July).
"Pistachio Ice Cream with Lightly Roasted Pistachios."

For National Ice Cream Day, the Whole Foods that I stopped into happened to have free samples from Ben & Jerry's.  I used the opportunity to try a flavor I had never had before: Pistachio Pistachio.

I didn't really care for it.  I liked the chunks of pistachio, but, the base ice cream flavor wasn't great.  It was standard Ben & Jerry's rich, quality product however.

Totally Baked:
"Chocolate & vanilla ice creams with fudge brownies & chocolate chip cookies."

I tried this one for the chocolate chip cookies that I knew from Milk & Cookies, and the brownies from chocolate fudge brownie (both of which I've liked and reviewed both before).

This was ... fine.  But boring.  Chocolate and vanilla, brownie and cookie, but, it didn't really add up to anything particularly amazing.

Truffle Kerfuffle™:
"Vanilla ice cream with roasted pecans, fudge flakes and salted chocolate."

I like pecans.  I like fudge.  I like salt.  And chocolate.  This basically sounded like an ice cream sundae, jammed into a single flavor.  Much potential.

But it fell a bit flat for me.  The texture seemed harder than most other flavors, and, my scooper actually told me he doesn't like this flavor, as it is always too hard (which he said after I said I didn't like it).  Not really sure why this was a miss, but, it was.

Frozen Flakes™
"Cereal milk ice cream with crisp cereal swirls."

Ben & Jerry's jumped on the cereal milk fad big time.  This summer, they introduced not one, not two, but three different cereal bases flavors: Frozen Flakes (e.g. frosted flakes), Frozen Fruities (e.g. Fruit Loops), and Cocoa Loco (e.g. Cocoa Puffs).

I tried Frozen Flakes, pretty excited.  I adore the Cereal Milk soft serve from Momofuku Milk Bar, and fully support this trend.

But, I didn't like the Ben & Jerry's version.  The "crisp cereal swirls" were not crisp.  Just like the waffle cone pieces in Americone Dream, and the potato chips in Late Night Snack, they were kinda soggy and really unappealing.  The base was also just far too sweet.

This was not for me, and the server told me he really didn't like it either.
Ben & Jerry's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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