If there’s one thing Oregon does really well, it’s probably craft beer. And if there’s something else they do really well, and my personal favorite, it’s gotta be the harvesting and utilizing of the marionberry. Developed in Corvalis, Oregon in the 1940’s, the marionberry is essentially the biggest, juiciest blackberry you’ll ever eat, and its use in pies, cakes, and ice creams gets me completely amped every – single – time. No stranger to cranking out some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest dairy, Tillamook use the berry for a flavor in their premium custard line that highlights this wonderful fruit in Oregon Marionberry Cheesecake, which combines a chunky marionberry swirl with graham cracker pie crust in a mascarpone custard.
Diving into this glisteningly gorgeous white base let me tell you this stuff is CREAMY. The texture of the mascarpone custard is rich, decadent, and buttery with a fatty dairy mouthfeel that is divine. Those extra egg yolks drive this ice cream into overdrive with a decent amount of sweetness but nothing that’s too over-the-top. Unfortunately I’m not getting any kind of cheesecake-y tang that I want from a flavor that calls itself cheesecake, and instead the gentle only slightly cheesy flavor of mascarpone takes over and I find myself really wanting a bit more funk to make the profile more interesting and engaging.
The pieces of graham cracker pie crust are very ample, popping up in small chunks in almost every bite, but again, the flavor is a little lackluster. The taste is less reminiscent of a golden graham cracker and much closer to standard pie crust, which is fine, but against the not-too-tangy base, they leave a bit to be desired in terms of the ideal balance a great cheesecake can offer. They’re relatively soft and chewy, and without any sweet honey or buttery aspect I find myself getting tired of them pretty quickly. While they definitely channel “crust”, my favorite part of a good cheesecake is that rich, crumbly graham base, and I simply want more from these pieces, even though the density is on point.
Where this flavor really sings is the marionberry swirl, which is thick, chunky, juicy, bright, and sweet. Marionberry’s have a amazingly sweet and tart flavor that are on full display in this swirl, and work wonderfully in conjunction with the very rich and succulent base custard. There are actual giant chunks of marionberry’s hanging out in the jammy ribbon that bring a huge sugary acidic pop that is undeniably Oregon and undeniably delicious.
While the swirl is top notch and near perfect, it simply cannot carry the flavor to a full on victory, and as a result this Tillamook custard is a textural dream and a bit of a tasting miss. It’s luxurious and at times delicious, but overall falls a short of a triumphant addition to the custard chronicles.
Found at: Safeway ($4.99)