Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Ben & Jerry's: The Europe Edition

Update Review, 2016

It has been a few years since I have reviewed the offerings of European Ben & Jerry's, which, as you may recall, are different (and, I think generally, better), than their US counterparts.

This selection comes from my visit to Munich, another Google office with an ice cream freezer.  I was delighted to find a very well stocked ice cream freezer.  Many of the options were more unique to me than Ben & Jerry's (like Mövenpick!), but, I couldn't resist getting a chance to try Cinnamon Buns, as I'd been eyeing it for quite a while.
Cinnamon Buns (2016).
"Caramel Ice Cream with a Cinnamon Swirl & Chunks of Cinnamon Bun Dough."

Cinnamon Buns basically sounded amazing.  I love cinnamon rolls, and in particular, I love the cinnamon swirl goo inside of them.  And I like cookie dough ice cream.  So, this was like cookie dough ice cream (but with cinnamon bun dough!), with the cinnamon sugar swirl I love from cinnamon buns.  Very promising.

To make it even more awesome, Ben and Jerry's also swaps out the vanilla base I was expecting for a caramel ice cream.  That was a slightly strange choice to me since I never think caramel when I think "cinnamon buns", but, caramel is sweet, so, why not?  Maybe "icing ice cream" would be too much?

Anyway, the ice cream base was standard Ben & Jerry's, creamy, sweet, good.  It melted very nicely.

Swirled in was the promised cinnamon swirl, just as I expected, it was basically like pockets of cinnamon roll filling, you know, like the center of the cinnamon roll that you always dig for.  I greatly enjoyed digging for it in here.

The cinnamon bun dough chunks were ok, basically just like cookie dough, perhaps a bit cinnamon flavored.

This was very standard Ben & Jerry's: a well thought out flavor, all components worked well together, and it had just the right balance of cinnamon swirl and big cinnamon bun dough chunks.  They need to figure out how to work the icing into it though ...
Caramel Chew Chew.
"Caramel Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl and Chocolatey Covered Caramel Chunks."

Another solid pick.  The ice cream was standard, rich, creamy Ben & Jerry's, and it melted quite nicely.  As always, you want to give this a bit of time to get melty, Ben & Jerry's always freezes quite hard.

I loved the caramel flavor in the ice cream.  The caramel swirls added a bit more caramel, but, I was a bit disappointed by how few caramel swirls there were.  I expect a better distribution from Ben & Jerry's!

I wasn't really into the chocolate covered caramel chunks, they were basically like Rolos.

Overall though, I still enjoyed it, because the base ice cream was good.

Original Review, June 2014

As you know, I've been traveling a bit lately.  Last week, for ice cream review day, I reviewed the rather unimpressive Heartbrand ice creams, and the week before I exalted my praises for Mövenpick, both of which I found in Zurich.  The other brand of ice cream I found in the ice cream freezers in my Zurich office was a familiar one: Ben & Jerry's.

I initially didn't try the Ben & Jerry's selections, as I was far too excited to try out all the offerings from Heartbrand and Mövenpick, since they were totally unfamiliar to me.  But, after a few days of stuffing myself full of the other choices, I finally looked more closely at the Ben & Jerry's, and realized that the flavors were not the ones that I was accustomed to.  Did you know that in Europe, the flavors of Ben & Jerry's available are ... different?  They still carry flavors that have been discontinued in the US.  And, they have flavors that we never have had!

Thus, I had to try them.  New flavors!  Sure, it meant averaging 4-5 ice creams a day (a hardship, I know).  Further, since they are actually manufactured in the UK, I thought that maybe they'd have a different taste, due to the different cows.  So I justified my totally ridiculous ice cream consumption to myself, for you my dear readers.  All in the name of research :)

To be honest, I'm not a huge Ben & Jerry's fan.  I find the flavors pretty hit or miss.  But I still have a lot of nostalgia for Ben & Jerry's, as it was the premium offering of my childhood.  For context, you can read my reviews of the US flavors here.
Fairly Nuts Ice Cream.
"Caramel ice cream with praline almond clusters and caramel swirls".

How do you define "fairly"? The dictionary says "to a high degree".  Thus, I expected "fairly nuts" to contain, well, a high degree of nuts.  This was not "fairly nuts".  There were literally only 2 of the praline almond clusters in my entire cup of ice cream.  I did like the candied nuts, but, 2 in an entire cup?  Not nearly sufficient, and Ben & Jerry's is usually pretty good about loading up their ice cream with goodies.

As for the rest of it, the ice cream base was unremarkable.  I guess it was caramel flavored, but, I just tasted nondescript sweetness.  The caramel swirl was nice, but again, just tasted like sweetness, it didn't have the butteriness that caramel should.

This is one of my least favorite flavors of Ben & Jerry's that I've ever tried.
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.
"Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream with Strawberries & a Thick Graham Cracker Swirl"

So, I don't like strawberry ice cream.  I love strawberries, just not in ice cream.  But, this sounded promising, since I do like cheesecake.

As I kinda expected, I didn't like the ice cream itself, as it tasted like, well, strawberry ice cream.  Perhaps a bit more rich than normal, but I didn't really detect anything "cheesecake" about it.

I also didn't like the chunks of frozen strawberry.  They were plentiful, but were really icy.  The creamy ice cream and the icy cold strawberries just didn't combine in a magical way for me.

But ... the graham cracker swirl.  OMG.  It was so incredibly delicious.  Buttery, sweet, crumbly.  I wouldn't call it a "swirl" exactly, most like just bits of graham cracker cookie throughout, but there was a generous amount of it.  I'd love to see the graham cracker cookie pieces show up in a different ice cream.  I'd even almost consider getting this again, just to pick the cookie bits out :)


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