REVIEW: Little G X MdoughW Peanut Butter Fudge

It’s well chronicled and goes without needing any explanation that peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven.  Peanut butter is one of the few flavors that can stand up to the big bad bully that can be chocolate, and the richness of the two compliment each other exceptionally in almost all forms of dessert.  For the Little G X MdoughW entry into the PB books the two combined peanut butter ice cream with triple chocolate fudge doughies and a chocolate fudge swirl.

image1
This my friends, this is why we Little G.  The peanut butter ice cream has a beautiful balance of sweet and salty with a robust peanut flavor that is true to the nut.  I’m not sure if it’s the sweetness of the other components but I’m getting a bit more saltiness from the base than I’m used to from Little G and I absolutely love it.  It may sound odd, but in the past I felt like Grace’s PB base tasted like Skippy, and this one reminds me more of Jif, with a dash more salt.  Lovely.

image2

image3
The triple chocolate fudge MdoughW doughies have a dense brownie-like texture filled with semisweet chocolate chips that give multiple layers to the flavor and added depth to the chew.  The chocolate isn’t quite dark but not milky either, it’s just simply deep.  Once again the MdoughW is a stellar match for mixing into ice cream, and when combined with the fantastic fudge swirl creates a brownie batter sensation that is beautiful.
Speaking of the swirl, it is thick and dark and goddamn is it good.  It’s always a good thing when the clear Little G container has giant black globs along the side of it and this pint is testament to that truth.  Fortunately for me, the fudge wasn’t just on the side but I got a beautiful pool towards the middle of the pint as well.   As the ice cream melts and the fudge integrates itself into the base, the experience becomes just like eating a peanut butter brownie sundae with every taste and texture accounted for, aka, ice cream bliss.

image4

image6
This is the kind of flavor I want to hoard and never have disappear.  It’s incredibly rich and decadent and all the elements are strong enough to stand on their own but work in pitch perfect harmony when eaten as a whole.  Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw with small batch hand-packed pints, and for me this one was absolutely spot on.  Tasty rich ribbons of fudge and a sturdy amount of MdoughW’s, but the ideal amount of what I’ll call “base breathability”, to get spoonfuls of purely creamy rich peanut butter ice cream perfection.

Rating: 10/10
Found at: http://www.goldbely.com (use code seanpancake0 for $25 off of your first order!)

image5

Advertisements

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Key Lime Chocolate Milano

While Nabisco are busy cranking out endless amounts of low key shock value flavored Oreo like Peeps and Waffles & Syrup, Pepperidge Farm are quietly releasing refined, slightly altered versions of their classic Mialno cookie, the latest of which is a re-release of last years Key Lime Chocolate.

image1
Staying true to their adult-leaning brand, this cookie takes the Milano’s firm layer of dark chocolate in between two oblong cookies and adds a limey punch to the equation.  Much like their other citrus-twisted releases Orange and Lemon, this spring time treat really works.  The cookies are soft yet crunchy with a crumbly texture that isn’t overly sweet or buttery.  The chocolate on the inside is dark and creamy with a slight sweetness that cuts through the more bland cookie exterior.

image2
The lime flavor is just right.  Not too aggressively tart or acidic it has just enough presence to add a citrusy flair and heighten the sweetness of the bitter-leaning chocolate.  One of the complaints about Milano’s is that they can be kind of dry, and even though the lime layer isn’t particularly creamy, it makes the cookie feel more moist and attractive to my general sugar-focused palate when I’m crunching into a cookie.

image3

I’m a big fan of chocolate and citrus together and think it is greatly underutilized in the realm of sweet treats.  While chocolate oranges can be easily found during the holidays, and as part of Pepperidge Farm’s regular lineup, using lemon or lime without the presence of white chocolate or graham is kind of rare.  It’s tricky to pull off key lime and dark chocolate together, and yet both flavors come through strong without wiping each other out, and Pepperidge Farm managed to soothe my sweet tooth and my citrus tooth in one small bite.

Rating: 8/10
Found at: Target ($2.99)

image4

REVIEW: Little G X MdoughW White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

One of my all time favorite creamy sweet treats growing up was a frozen yogurt from TCBY called White Chocolate Mousse.  It was succulent and smooth in a way that vanilla could never be, and sadly, I haven’t had that perfectly swirled soft serve in years, but have always looked for a worthy replacement.  Additionally, one of my favorite cookies has always been white chocolate macadamia nut, and my love for the cookie and ice cream have very rarely come together.  Once again, Little G has come to my rescue.  Combining forces with MdoughW, the two have released a pint that combines white chocolate ice cream with roasted macadamia nuts, and MdoughW’s sugar cookie doughies.

image1
The white chocolate base is fantastic.  Insanely smooth and creamy, it is decently sweet with a distinct white chocolate finish that’s really hard to describe.  There are no vanilla notes, especially compared to Little G’s vanilla bean, and it is less sweet than a typical sweet cream, with less of a pronounced dairy flavor.  White chocolate is such a difficult taste to pinpoint, but it can generally be distinguished and attributed to the use of cocoa butter, which gives an added layer of richness that just simply works in ice cream and makes it even creamier than your typical super premium base.

image2
The MdoughW sugar cookie doughies are delicious and taste almost exactly like a more authentic less grainy version of when I eat Pillsbury’s sugar cookie dough before baking them (shhh don’t tell anyone).  They are soft and buttery with a lovely saltiness and don’t really taste like they’ve been cooked at all – and I love it.  The salty flavor really shines through against the perfectly sweetened and creamy base and if this were a sugar cookie dough ice cream this is all that I would need to be immensely satisfied.

image3
Where this pint suffers is in the execution of the buttery and always unique tasting macadamia nuts.  While they’ve been roasted, they haven’t been salted or seasoned in any way and fall kind of flat, even when submerged in the sugary abyss of white chocolate.  They are also too big.  I appreciate the idea that they should be large enough to give a bold flavor, and they do add a legit crunch, but including whole nuts makes them incredibly hard and almost astringent, at times sucking the life out of my spoon.  Had the macadamia nuts been smaller and/or candied, or even just dusted with some decent salt they could have really helped elevate the flavor to its true cookie ice cream potential.

image5
I love the base and the sugar cookies in this one a LOT, but the treatment of the nuts and the amount of them really pull away from how awesome this pint could have been.  I would love to see Grace use the white chocolate again in a flavor that doesn’t get weighed down by a hard, mouth-drying component like the macadamia’s, or maybe even just try this one again using half the amount of nuts and throwing in a couple white chips for good measure, because through and through I still really enjoyed eating this.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: http://www.goldbely.com (use code seanpancake0 for $25 off of your first order!)

image4

REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s Pirates of the Chocolaty Caribbean

As a somewhat low key Disney fanboy and not so low key Salt & Straw fanboy I was completely puffed with joy when I read that the two would be collaborating for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  Very rarely does a smaller craft brand like S&S get the chance to work with one of the entertainment industry’s titans, and I was genuinely excited not only for this release, but for what the relationship could mean in the future.  I was so excited that I read the press release at least five times, and in fact, I think it’s so well written that I’m going to stop my intro here and just post the official description from a couple weeks ago:

“Pirates of the Chocolaty Caribbean captures the sweetness and spice of rum and toasted sugar flavor of the island spirit by infusing a caramel ice cream with cinnamon, allspice, orange peel, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, and star anise. The real magic of this caramel spiced rum ice cream is the one-of-a-kind chocolate inside—single-origin chocolate from Trinidad, sourced locally from Bar Au Chocolat, studded with pop rocks that go off like pirate cannons between your teeth. Dig into the true flavor of the Caribbean in every scoop!”

Of course, this was a super limited time offering, only available at ONE shop in Los Angeles, but somehow, through the goodwill and kindness of Kim and Tyler and Salt & Straw, I was able to acquire a pint, and give it a taste for the skillet.

image1

By Salt & Straw standards this base is incredibly subdued, and for my personal tastes, a bit too mellow.  When I read the description of all the spices going into the ice cream my heart lit up, but they’re much harder to detect than I had anticipated.  Usually with S&S when they say something is in the flavor it is IN it and always executed with intense finesse, but here I had to really search for any prominent spicy notes.

image2

image3

The ice cream is incredibly smooth and rich with a soft caramel essence that isn’t too sweet and finishes with a lovely buttery flavor that accentuates the high quality dairy like a well balanced sweet cream.  There is the slightest touch of cinnamon and nutmeg at the end, but even that is very subtle, with no star anise, cloves, or cardamon to be found.  There also isn’t any boozy rum flavor going on, which given the description of “caramel spiced rum ice cream” would have been really nice to taste as well, although I get the feeling the spices were supposed to emulate rum rather than alcohol being a prominent flavor.

image4

What really works wonderfully in this flavor is the pop rock studded dark chocolate, which delivers on everything it promised to be.  It’s incredibly dark and bitter with tons of small pop rocks that immediately start sizzling the second I chomp into them; and it really does feel like cannons going off in my mouth.  The chocolate is integrated in broken thin sheets and dispersed throughout the pint with perfection – some small shards of chocolate and some big chunks that keep each bite slightly different in bitterness and crunch.  It’s a funny juxtaposition to put such a novelty candy into high quality single origin chocolate but it works wonderfully, adding excitement to every bite.

image5

While I wish this ice cream had a true spiced rum base to compliment the very well executed chocolate, I can’t deny that it is still an incredibly well made and delicious product.  All of the more interesting ingredients fall to the background and simply temper the sweetness of the caramel for a more grown-up spin on flavors that are very familiar to ice cream aficionados.  In all honesty this is just a very high quality and slightly elevated chocolate chip ice cream, and a damn good one at that.

Rating: 8/10
Found at: Salt & Straw Los Angeles

image6

REVIEW: Little G X MdoughW Red Velvet

Red velvet cake is pretty straight forward, yet somehow easy to not do proper justice.  A red colored chocolate cake adorned with cream cheese frosting.  Two crucial elements that need to balance each other out to create a symphony of sweet, chocolatey, tangy, and rich.  For their limited batch collaboration, Little G and MdoughW chose to take on the classic cake and smash it into a pretty pint consisting of cream cheese ice cream with red velvet white chocolate chip MdoughW pieces.

image1
No surprise here – the cream cheese base is executed wonderfully.  Incredibly smooth and velvety, it has the signature cream cheese tang that has been tempered with the perfect amount of sweetness to keep it from going savory.  It channels the frosting it is emulating in ice cream form beautifully with a brilliant balance of sweet and tart that leaves a lingering cheesy flavor in my mouth.  The cream cheese aids in the already decadent texture of Little G’s ice cream and makes for a very delicious and complex bite.

image2

image3
The red velvet pieces from MdoughW pack a serious cocoa-heavy chocolate punch that hinder on bitter with a lovely deep red velvet color.  The addition of white chocolate chips give a small crunch that is welcome with MdoughW’s notoriously soft texture.  The cookie pieces occupy a space somewhere between your traditional fully baked cookie and cookie dough, and are an incredibly organic fit for putting into ice cream.  When the two components come together on my spoon it is spot on like taking a bite of super moist red velvet cake in melty frozen form.

image4
This ice cream overall is much less mix in heavy than the usual offering from Little G and showcases her ability to churn out extremely high quality bases.  Something that I very rarely think when getting pints from Little G is wanting more mix ins, and that might actually be the case here.  While the doughie pieces are fantastic, there was only around 6 or 7 in the container, and as good as the base is, the cake pieces are essential to making the red velvet experience sing.  Still, this is one of the better red velvet ice creams I have had, and the attention to detail and balance in the flavors is remarkable when they’re both actually there.

Rating: 7/10

Found at: http://www.goldbely.com (use promo code seanpancake0 for $25 off of your first order!)

image5

REVIEW: Little G X MdoughW Cinnamon Caramel Churro

Collaborations are one of the greatest elements of hip hop, but they can be pretty damn cool in the food world too.  Usually reserved for big brands like Taco Bell teaming up with Doritos, Baskin Robbins with Oreo, and recently, Pop Tarts with Jolly Rancher, it’s much less common that smaller independent companies collide to release a joint product – but today that narrative is straight shook.  Gourmet ice cream goddess Little G and cookie cup titans MdoughW have joined forces to release a limited edition run of cookie and brownie (“doughie”) loaded pints of indulgence decadence.  Utilizing MdoughW’s signature doughies, aka wildly soft cookie cups stuffed with delicious fillings, and Little G’s super premium ice cream bases and swirls, the two combined to churn out six epic flavors, and today we take a first dive into Cinnamon Caramel Churro, which is cinnamon ice cream with MdoughW churro pieces and a salted caramel swirl.

image1
The cinnamon ice cream is absolutely spot on.  It has a giant, robust, and spicy cinnamon flavor that has the cinna-slut in me satisfied in ways not many ice creams have done before.  There is a genuine spice-heavy, almost floral zing that tastes like freshly ground cinnamon was dumped generously onto a sweet cream base and it is absolutely magical.  Visually the base is studded with brown flecks that translate the cinnamon flawlessly.  It should go without saying that the ice cream itself is incredibly rich and creamy with a succulent melty mouthfeel that is divine.

image2

image3
The churro pieces are incredibly soft with a nice salty pop that register much more like dough than they do the crispy fried stick I associate them with.  The pieces are of generous size and have upheld their dense chew well in the sea of cream, but without any sort of crispy crunch they could easily be cinnamon bun pieces or snickerdoodle cookies and I’m not sure I would be able to tell the difference.  Imagining the way the dairy would soak into the fried exterior of a churro to create a crispy squish has me wishing there was more, but the cinnamon-heavy, almost grainy base helps emulate that experience to a degree.

image4
The biggest element that’s a bit of a miss for me in this pint is the salted caramel swirl.  I know what Little G is capable of when it comes to swirls (the best in the game up there with Salt & Straw), and with this flavor the swirl is more subtly incorporated into the base than standing out on its own in big gooey puddles of deliciousness.  Every so often I’ll get a bite that has a sweeter, smoother punch to it, and that is where the caramel comes into play, but I miss having thick succulent ribbons that deliver a deeply sweet, salty, and caramelized flavor.

image5
This is a great flavor of ice cream for cinnamon lovers, but it doesn’t really hit the mark completely when it comes to what I know and love to be a churro.  Although it has one of the best cinnamon bases I have ever had, some crunch is really needed to drive the desired flavor into full effect, and I really wish I had some serious caramel to send it to the heights I know Little G can ascend to.

Rating: 9/10
Found at: http://www.goldbely.com (use code seanpancake0 for $25 off your first order!)

REVIEW: Hostess Golden Cupcakes

Childhood nostalgia is a helluva drug.  The sights, sounds, and flavors of our youthful formative years trigger powerful associations of the best and worst of times, and when it comes to junky snack food those still-developing tastebuds can hold onto memories of food that was mind-blowing at the time and may or may not hold up to the standard of a full grown and seasoned palate.  Among the best examples of such memories are my experiences with snack cakes, which, before I understood the magic that could happen inside of a real oven at 350 degrees, were some of the best things in the world.  One of my favorite snack cakes was the Hostess Golden Cupcake, which since the bankruptcy scare in 2013 I hadn’t seen back on shelves, until now.  Amidst the slew of mint and berry flavored treats that pop up during the spring are these once semi-standard now semi-rare iteration of the cellophane cupcake that combine frosted yellow cake with a creamy filling and the signature Hostess squiggle.

image1
The cakes look and feel just as I remember – soft and spongy with a greasy sheen that only a true chubby child can appreciate and look at with adoration.  The top chocolate layer is hard and much more resembles a shell than frosting, but if it was slick and gooey that would be far too natural and probably make me ill.  The smell is sweet and very reminiscent of the Chocodile, or more simply put, chocolate covered Twinkie.  Going in for a bite I’m afraid the nostalgia got the best of me as this really does just taste like a chocolate covered Twinkie in hamburger shape instead of hot dog.

image2
The cake itself is moister than what you get with most Twinkies, but it doesn’t have any special yellow cake flavor, and the golden element here is really just bland, sweet cake that does nothing to excite my tastebuds at all.  My favorite part of yellow cake is the distinct eggy-ness you taste from the use of tons of egg yolks, and while I knew I wouldn’t get that much of an authentic flavor, I got absolutely none of it and my favorite rare childhood Hostess release is letting me down like when the young aspiring athlete finally meets Tom Brady and he shrugs him off to step into his limousine.

image3
The chocolate layer on the top is also boring, with just a hint of cocoa flavor and a predominantly sweet and grainy texture that adds nothing to the overall experience.  The creme filling on the inside is exactly what you would expect it to be, but with the rest of the cake being so bland and sugary single-noted, it loses all of its impact and simply blends into a sea of bleh.

The only other limited cupcake I’ve had since Hostess relaunched is the Pumpkin Spice one, which I thought was really awesome, so I’m not sure if my hopes were too high or nostalgia too strong, but these cakes were an absolute miss for me and another forgettable part of what I thought was great in my childhood.

Rating: 5.5/10
Found at: Target ($2.99)