Until today I had no idea what “glamping” was, and there’s a decent chance you don’t either, so I’ll get ya up to speed. Glamping is short for “glamour camping” and is the hybrid of the lovely outdoor freshness of traditional camping and more posh resort-style hotel amenities of regular vacationing. It truly is the hypothetical best of both world’s, where you can go on a long mind-clearing hike and take a poop into something that flushes before roasting some marshmallows over an easy-to-ignite outdoor fire pit. Speaking of marshmallows, and similarly to my lack of knowledge about glamping, I had no clue Target was getting a new exclusive flavor from Ben & Jerry’s, and was stopped in my tracks when doing my daily perusing of the frozen aisle at my favorite red-clad establishment. Apparently inspired by faux-camping and uber decadent hiking snacks, Glampfire Trail Mix combines chocolate ice cream with crunchy pretzel swirls, marshmallow swirls, and fudge-covered almonds.
I tend to like variety in my sweets, and especially in ice cream. Different layers, textures, and flavors that work together to create one sumptuous symphony of taste sensation. But at times there’s something appealing about excess. Tons of chocolate, tons of peanut butter, tons of caramel, or less commonly, tons of white? Magnum’s new line of pint tubs has one unexpected, and potentially one-noted offering in White Chocolate Vanilla, which combines vanilla ice cream and white chocolate shards in a cracking white chocolate shell.
Let me preface all of this by saying I don’t think I’ve ever had this much white chocolate in an ice cream ever. White chocolate bases are pretty hard to come across in general, and while that isn’t in effect here, there’s no doubt that the often criticized “fake” chocolate is the star of this frozen show. That being said, the vanilla ice cream is absolutely fantastic. It’s incredibly sweet creamy, but not heavy at all. It has a slightly whipped consistency, not in the slow churned style of light ice creams, but more like an amazing whipped butter, or better yet, buttercream frosting.
The white chocolate on top and sprinkled in shards throughout the pint is without a doubt the highest quality I’ve experienced in ice cream and it is divine. The cocoa butter heavy chocolate is exceptionally smooth and creamy with a superbly sweet meltiness that blends harmoniously with the fluffy yet decadent vanilla base. While I worried that the subtleties of white chocolate would get lost against a vanilla backdrop, the end result is the exact opposite, and a great reminder that a good vanilla ice cream is anything but plain, and can be fantastic as a flavor all on its own.
The sweet vanilla notes play off of the chocolate’s rich fattiness for an absurdly sweet but wickedly delicious union that I can’t help but love. Scraping off every last bit of the chocolate from the sides of the plastic and integrating them into the base is worth every ounce of effort and elbow grease it takes, even if it means scraping my knuckles to the point drawing a little blood.
What this ice cream truly reminds me of is cake batter and frosting. Had Magnum tossed some sprinkles into this container they could have stopped every basic b in their tracks and caused a frenzy with what could be one of the best birthday cake pints ever in the grocery store. While the product itself is unabashedly sweet, it truly highlights the magic of white chocolate and its potential to really be the driving force of a killer ice cream.
Found at: Safeway ($4.99)
The marriage of Oreo and Baskin Robbins is a bonafide summertime tradition, and very much in line with our whacky-ass global warming patterns, this year’s team up is coming early. 2017 gave us the okay All About Oreo and surprisingly good Oreo Cheesecake, while past flavors like Oreo Malt Madness (2015) and Oreo Birthday Cake (2016) ran away with BR’s best limited scoops of the year. Whether this means we’ll be getting three or more Oreo collabs in 2018 or if Baskin Robbins has bigger plans for the hottest scooping months of the calendar year is unknown, but to kick off the Oreo-sanity the brand went back to the drawing board for a flavor that seems so obvious it’s hard to believe it’s brand new. Oreo ‘n Caramel features salty caramel ice cream with Oreo cookie pieces and a caramel swirl.
While I wasn’t a big fan of the Salty Caramel base in First Class Camouflage, I’m actually really digging what I’m tasting here. BR’s straight forward Salty Caramel isn’t a flavor that’s made it’s way into my local scoop shop’s dip cases as a seasonal release, so this is the most exposure that I’ve gotten to it and I’m impressed. It’s velvety smooth with the perfect ratio of melty mouthfeel and fatty density. It’s sweet and salty with deep but not burnt caramel notes that sing off of the spoon like Miaskovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Minor.
The salty base is perfectly complimented by the thin runny caramel swirl that integrates itself into nearly every bite. It’s actually kind of hard to tell how much caramel flavor is coming directly from the base as opposed to the swirl, but it doesn’t really matter because the two are in perfect harmony. The gooey texture of the caramel swims in the dairy’s density striking a beautifully choreographed pose for my tastebuds.
Against the two sweet caramel layers of the scoop the ample Oreo pieces really pop with lovely bitter cocoa presence and softened cookie-in-milk texture that is classic ice cream 101. The pieces vary from smaller integrated crumbles to surprisingly big chunks chock full of crème filling and squishy glee. I’m not too crazy for standard Cookies & Cream, but the slight change in base and addition of the swirl let the Oreo’s shine and bring the fun back to this potentially tired scoop shop staple.
For all of the experimenting Baskin Robbins have done with Oreo’s over the years, this back to the basics approach of letting Nabisco’s grocery darling be the star of the show is impressively delicious. It isn’t overflowing with unnecessary amounts of candies or different flavors of ice cream, it’s stripped down, classic, and in its simplicity it really shines.
Found at: Baskin Robbins ($3.19)
Nostalgia is a helluva drug. Nostalgia probably drives 90% of my interest in limited edition snacks and junk food in general, dating back to those care free childhood days of packed lunches and water balloon fights. There are cherished snacks that have hit the graveyard, like my beloved Dunkaroos and Sonic Sour Cream Doritos, but every so often a formerly RIP’d product gets brought back to life. Bless the golden god’s of the cereal aisle because one of the all time greats is back – Post Oreo O’s.
March is a wonderful time of the year. Temperatures start heating up, basketball is in full swing, the flowers begin blooming their little buds, and more importantly, Salt & Straw bring back their fan voted favorites. My very first formal Salt & Straw review was the astounding Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake which was voted in last year and is back again this year for good reason – it’s incredible. The 2018 voting season also brought back the whimsical Pots of Gold and Rainbows, and a flavor that hasn’t seen the light of day since 2015 – Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie. This citrusy scoop combines a Nilla Wafer ice cream with housemade lemon curd and silky marshmallow fluff.
Have you ever wanted to play God? Yeah, me neither, but when given the opportunity it’s kind of hard to pass up. As a dude who loves a good protein bar I’ve spent many a moment dreaming up flavors I wished my favorite companies would release, and now, I no longer have to dream, I can officially play protein bar God. The Bar Shack are a new online based company that allows anyone to design their own protein bar, made fresh and shipped straight to their door. So when owner Adam hit me up and asked if I would like to give it a shot I said “Hey, call me Jesus!”.
Dunking a graham cracker into a tall cold glass of milk is one of the quintessential nostalgic past times of childhood. Maybe it’s because they aren’t chocolate or filled with crème, but for whatever reason I was allowed to eat graham crackers way more often than normal cookies as a child, and for me they are the ultimate companion to milk. I could do without milk and cookies in every other application, I’ll take some black coffee instead, but milk belongs with graham like Curry belongs on the Warriors, and the two compliment each other in soft subtle ways like no other. The top dawg brand of them all, of course, is Honey Maid, and in its glorious shadow all other crackers taste like mere imitators. It’s time for all other cereal’s to feel like imitators too, because the big boy has come to play with Honey Maid S’mores Cereal.