REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Pumpkin Cheesecake

There’s something about firsts. You know the ones, big first time moments in your life – girls, foods, songs, authors, cities, etc. One of the big firsts I always think about this time of year is when I first fell in love with creamy versions of pumpkin. It was a cup of pumpkin frozen yogurt, topped with black chocolate sprinkles, eaten outside on a crisp autumn day – crunchy dead leaves gathered at my feet. While I always loved pumpkin pie, enjoying it in cold, melty, frozen form was something new to me, and I haven’t let go of that swirly passion for the last 15 years. It is with that sense of glowing nostalgia that I crack into my first pumpkin ice cream of the season with Ben & Jerry’s Pumpkin Cheesecake, which combines a pumpkin cheesecake ice cream with graham cracker swirl.

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This flavor is much less mix-in reliant and heavy than a lot of Ben & Jerry’s pints, which means the base has to be really strong in order for it to succeed. As I scoop into the pale off-orange autumn abyss of the container scarecrows begin to sing and crows ca-caw with pumpkin-y bliss; this base is most definitely a success. The texture is incredibly smooth and decadent but not too dense. It isn’t light by any means but it carries a perfect velvety feeling that transcends a lot of what B&J’s offer in their bases and is pleasantly pumkin-y rich.

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The one-two punch of pumpkin purée and cream cheese high on the ingredient list helps translate the pumpkin cheesecake vibes without being too in-your-face. While the ice cream doesn’t have any pronounced tang to it, it does have a nice cheesiness that plays beneath the layer of squash and spices. The pumpkin flavor is very deep and impressively true with subtle notes of cinnamon and nutmeg that are present but far from aggressive. It isn’t terribly spicy but it is very accurate to the balance of flavors I would expect from a slice of spiced cheesecake.

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Graham crackers are one of my favorite mix-ins ever, not only for their general flavor but in the way they work so well with dairy. The swirl here is full of graham flavor with a gritty salty mouthfeel and hints of butter. It’s a perfect crumbly sweet and salty accompaniment to the creamy spiced base, but as usual with graham, I just want more. There are occasional pockets of medium sized chunks but the swirl is mostly as described – a swirl. Unfortunately this comes across much more like crumbs for most of the experience, and as the lone mix-in there’s not much room to be too crumbly.

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This ice cream is really easy to eat. Due to its lighter density and balanced base flavor it goes down quick and is all around delicious. It’s one more swirl or a little more graham away from being a perfect pint, but it’s definitely one of the best frozen autumn treats you’ll find at the grocery store this season, and very true to its cheesecake destiny.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: Target ($4.49)
Quick Nutrition: 1/2 cup (103g) – 260 cal – 15g fat – 7g sat fat – 140mg sodium – 30g carb – 25g sugar – 4g protein

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REVIEW: Baskin Robbins Trick Oreo Treat

For a very long time (at least 7 or 8 years), the Flavor of the Month at Baskin Robbins in October was Trick Oreo Treat. Until, of course, 2016, when this blog started and the first review was of the slightly modified and awesome Trick Oreo Treat Dark, followed up by last years okay Candy Bar Mashup. The flavor never disappeared, it always came back as a seasonal offering, but this year, much in line with Baskin Robbins’ recent lazy tendencies, it’s back in the prime time dip case slot with advertisements and hype galore. Since it hadn’t been the featured flavor it never got properly pinned on the skillet, so even though I’ve loved it in the past and found it a bit underwhelming in 2017, I’m gonna give it another go for the sake of my people. Trick Oreo Treat is described this year as “the ultimate Halloween haul” combining vanilla ice cream with orange crème filled Oreo pieces, Baby Ruth pieces, and Butterfinger pieces.

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REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s Mummy’s Pumpkin Spiced Potion (V)

I’m a sucker for some spooky shit. And if anyone knows how to get real goddamn spooky in October it’s Salt & Straw. Ice cream with blood and bugs has become standard affair for them, along with their ode to trick-or-treating classic The Great Candycopia. But they usually save their pumpkin flexing for Thanksgiving, and this year they’ve gifted us a new squashy delight ahead of the holiday’s. Mummy’s Pumpkin Spiced Potion is a vegan coconut based frozen dessert with dried pumpkin Pyschocandy tea from August Tea and candied pumpkin bits.

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REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s

It’s finally officially autumn. Which means that the inside of Trader Joe’s looks like a pumpkin goblin vomited all over the entire store. And it’s goddamn beautiful. While many brands started rolling out their spooky seasonal selection in August, Trader Joe’s tends to wait until a more tasteful mid-September, but when they bring it, they BRING it. Pumpkin soup and pumpkin chips and pumpkin spreads and pumpkin pasta and on and on and on. Of course, not excluding pumpkin cookies. Somehow in my autumnal escapades last year I didn’t pen my thoughts on Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s. In fact, I didn’t even eat them last year. But the time has come for me to formally enter TJ’s mock-eo into the pumpkin catalog. Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s are pumpkin sandwich cookies with a pumpkin cream filling.

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REVIEW: Baskin Robbins’ Chocolate Del Fuego

Putting spicy into sweets is one of the hottest trends in the junk food universe. Sweet Heat Skittles and Starburst, Fire Sour Patch Kids, Butterfinger Smokin’ Hot Peanut Butter Cups, Fiery Snickers, and recently even a spicy spin on the lunchbox staple Fruit By The Foot. Yet as this fad has blown up over the last couple of years, it hasn’t really crept its way into the frozen aisle. No Choco-Jalapeno Ben & Jerry’s or Chili Mango Haagen-Dazs have popped onto my radar, but Baskin Robbins made the call that September was the right time to drop their own take on a Mexican classic. Chocolate Del Fuego combines chocolate ice cream fused with hints of cinnamon and chili with chocolate chips and a spicy tres leches swirl.

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REVIEW: Humphry Slocombe’s OCHO PB&J

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, ice cream inspired by candy bars is something I can always get behind. Even better yet, if that candy bar recreation can tug at some deeply rooted childhood nostalgia it’s really up to the churners to lose, cause Imma be a mark through and through. To kick off the buildup to their tenth anniversary San Francisco OG flavor-smiths Humphry Slocombe joined forces with Oakland candy company Ocho to transform their PB&J chocolate bar into a scoop-able frozen treat. Ocho PB&J combines a milk chocolate ice cream with Ocho Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar pieces and a raspberry jelly swirl.

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Y’all already know I get down heavy with peanut butter and chocolate, and I think only lunatics don’t love the allure of a good PB&J, but for me the combination of all three flavors in one doesn’t always work. They’re three strong tastes that can at times compete too heavily for the limelight with a component getting lost in the mix or it all feeling like simply “too much”. Humphry Slocombe figured out how to remedy this and they executed it perfectly with the milk chocolate base. While HS are known for bolder choco-takes like Malted Milk Chocolate and Chocolate Smoked Sea Salt, this ice cream carries a much lighter chocolate flavor that takes a backseat to the jelly without too many commanding cocoa notes. It’s smooth and creamy but not too heavy, with just enough darkness to bring a hint of chocolaty presence.

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What’s really surprising about this flavor is that the only element with peanut butter in it are the candy bar chunks, because I get taste bud wafts of PB emanating through every spoonful. It isn’t strong enough to make me think that it’s a straight peanut butter ice cream but the nutty-ness comes through on bites without any lovely crunchy candy bar chunks. Humphry aren’t known for having flavors packed with lots of mix-ins but I’ve noticed them upping the density recently and this pint follows suite. There are plenty of decently sized hunks of bar that snap and chomp with wonderful chocolate peanut butter flavor that’s downright fun and addictive.

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The raspberry jelly swirl is the same house made one used by Ocho in their bar and it’s pretty much perfect. Decently thick but nice and runny with sweet tart berry notes that play to the strengths of both peanut butter and chocolate swimmingly. I really enjoy Ocho’s candy bar, but I think this ice cream version may be even better balanced for my palate as the dairy helps temper the more aggressive sweetness from the actual candy. No matter which way you scoop it, this is one of Humphry Slocombe’s strongest releases of the year and a fantastic version of the childhood classic that feels just so slightly fancy with its raspberry swirl and grade-A triple threat balancing act.

Rating: 9/10

Found at: Humphry Slocombe ($9.99)