REVIEW: Caffe Panna Cocoa Snick

Chocolate and snickerdoodle? It definitely sounds festive, but does it work? Caffe Panna’s Winter Pack is full of nostalgia-laden crowd pleasing flavor profiles that are so classic they simply make sense; and others that push the boundaries of merry coexistence, including this one. Cocoa Snick is panna and dark cocoa ice cream swirled with marshmallow and studded with snickerdoodle cookie dough.

So, does it work? Sort of. Let me start with the highlight — the marshmallow swirl. This very well may be the greatest marshmallow swirl I’ve ever graced my tastebuds with. It is deliciously sticky sweet without being cloying, and has an aggressive yet perfectly fitting vanilla flavor that hits incredibly hard. It finishes with something akin to a sugary honey taste, and thanks to the immaculate quality control I get to relive that beautiful sweet stickiness over and over again. 

For the other two components there’s good news and bad news. The good news is the dark cocoa and doodle elements don’t clash, but the bad news is that’s because the base is pretty light in cocoa. It has a beautiful velvety Panna texture with ample sweet dairy notes but the “dark” component is severely lacking. For how sweet and abundant the marshmallow is I really wanted a hefty dose of bitterness in the base to compliment it, and it just isn’t there. Conceptually I can see how Caffe Panna went for a hot cocoa type of experience, and from that angle it’s fairly accurate, but off balance. It’s not bad by any means, just not strong enough to stand up to the greatest ‘mallow of all time.

The snickerdoodle cookie dough is also not quite what I anticipated. I love snickerdoodle’s, more specifically if you’ve read this blog for the last six years you know I love cinnamon, and I don’t get much cinnamon from these hefty chunks of dough. There’s a little bit of cinnamon there, but oddly enough what I taste more than anything is nutmeg, specifically a kind of eggy nutmeg note in the finish very similar to egg nog. Which isn’t a bad flavor per say, but it’s very odd in this context, especially with how intensely sweet it is as well. The dough has great cookie dough texture — nice and soft but firm with a grittiness throughout that channels raw dough’s sugar crystal crunch wonderfully. 

I guess there’s a reason I’ve never paired a marshmallow-heavy cup of hot chocolate with a plate of snickerdoodle’s for Santa; he likes milk and I like coffee. In Cocoa Snick there’s tons of dough and tons of marshmallow and tons of potential, but ultimately this pint lacks the balance of bitterness or a robust cinnamon punch to make it one that will be on my Christmas list next year.

Rating: 6.5/10

Found at: Goldbelly ($114.95 for 6 pints)

REVIEW: Caffe Panna’s Jingaling and Nutty Gingerbread Man

To keep up with the times, I’ve been doing more and more short form video reviews. I love writing, I really do, but sadly a lot of people don’t like to read! I’ll admit I’m even guilty myself, I listen to a lot of podcasts and watch hella YouTube. Lucky for me, I also really like shooting and editing video, so it’s another side of me I’ll gladly bring out if the people enjoy it. Below are two reviews from Caffe Panna’s latest Winter Pack, and let me tell you, they’re bangers! If you have any questions I’m more than happy to answer them in the comments below and feel free to reach out on TikTok or Instagram as well! 🙂

@seansskillet

It wouldn’t be Christmas without an insane pack from @CaffePanna! JINGALING is here! #icecream #caffepanna #foodie

♬ Warm Christmas Lofi Beat – Gloveity
@seansskillet

Scoopin with the skillet holiday pt 2! @caffepanna NUTTY GINGERBREAD MAN 🤯 #icecream #icecreamreview #foodie #caffepanna #gingerbread #christmas

♬ Lofi Chill Christmas beat(1128750) – G-HIKARU

REVIEW: Bad Walters Scouts Honor

Thin Mints get all the love, but let’s be real, Samoas are the best Girl Scout cookie. Their combination of chocolate, caramel, coconut, and shortbread are divine, and that flavor is absolutely primed to excel as an ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s tried earlier this year with its Chewy Gooey Cookie flavor, which had some promise but failed to hit the highs of the delicious purple-boxed cookie. But have no fear, local lactose-free churner Bad Walters gave the profile a different twist and if you’re like me and think that Samoas are the best Girl Scout cookie and that Phish Food is the pinnacle of Ben & Jerry’s standard lineup— you’re gonna want to pay attention to the next time this one drops. Scouts Honor is a dark chocolate custard with salty caramel swirls and coconut macaroons.

I was curious how well a chocolate base would translate the Samoas experience but I’m happy to report that the bittersweet chocolate isn’t overbearing, and the Samoas profile is on full display in flavor HD. The base is intensely dark and tastes fantastic. As I noted in my review of Dream Team, it isn’t as smooth and lush as every other base I’ve had from Bad Walters, and it’s a tough trade off because the flavor is SO good but the texture gets held back a bit. I found this to be mostly remedied with extra temper time, but it still has a touch more grittiness than anything else I’ve scooped from the burgeoning local legend. You can see in the pictures how it’s a bit chunky, and I’m pretty sure it’s from the heavy handed cocoa powder. I wish it was more velvety but I love it regardless; and admire its bold punchy chocolate flavor that stands tall amongst a crowd of milkier chocolates.

The chocolate base is 75% altered, and honestly augmented, by the insane amount of salted caramel swirls; and it absolutely rules. As a Phish Food freak this dark chocolate meets caramel combo hits me right in the heart. The caramel has a perfectly caramelized slightly burnt taste that keeps it from getting too sweet. It has a flavor closer to Salt & Straw with a thinner texture more akin to B&J. It’s a fantastic medium that works so incredibly well with the strong base. Phenomenal.

The macaroons are where this pint has the chance to make or break the whole theme, and let me tell you, this shit is POPPIN’. There are SO many macaroons and they are next level perfection. Who knew macaroons are such a good mix-in? I think this is my first time having them in ice cream and I desperately need it to not be the last. The sensually sweet balls of buttery shredded coconut pop up everywhere, with caramelized crunchy bits on the bottom that actually send me over the moon. The saltiness that comes through, along with the toothy chew, is better than I could have ever imagined. Not to mention the many crevices for the chocolate and caramel to soak into, making for a singular mix-in that’s anything but static. Scouts Honor 100% channels a strong love for Samoas, but it’s a decadent and absurdly good pint of ice cream on its own (scouts) merit, too. 

Rating: 9/10

Found at: Bad Walters ($13.50)

REVIEW: Caffe Panna “👻”

Caffe Panna’s Fall Pack is essentially a love letter to cinnamon, spice, and everything nice. Amid pints of apple crisp, pumpkin s’mores, and cinnamon buns, there’s one simply titled “👻” with only one base flavor and one mix-in. Is it “Ghost?” Is it “Ahh!” Is it “Boo”?. I like Boo, so I’m gonna stick with Boo. However you want to say it, 👻 is cinnamon stick infused Panna sweet cream with chewy ranger fudge chunks.

The cinnamon stick infused Panna sweet cream has the quintessential texture that makes Caffe Panna so special. It is velvety and rich and looks just as beautiful as it tastes. This base is simple elegance, with a mild sweet cinnamon undertone that’s anything but scary. As a cinnamon freak I could handle a lot more, but I actually appreciate the restraint here, letting the high quality dairy notes in the sweet cream really shine, with some subtle spicy accents to carry the profile.

When it comes to decadent candy I’m actually not a very big fan of fudge. Oftentimes it’s WAY too sweet, lacking balance, and a bit gritty — not here, this fudge is excellent. I’m hard pressed to remember how many times I’ve had actual fudge in an ice cream. I’ve had plenty of fudge swirls, and I adore the ganache from Salt & Straw, but straight up boardwalk style fudge chunks in ice cream might be a new thing for me; at least of this quality. The Rangers Fudge chunks are big and take up nearly my entire spoon, with a firmness that’s dense but just soft enough to spoon through when properly tempered; revealing a potent bittersweet chocolate flavor that leans into the sweet with only a touch of salt. I prefer breaking the chunks in half to enjoy them with more of the creamy base for a classic fudge sundae type of texture and taste.

This pint evolves a bit half way through, the fudge chunks get denser and some of the fudge starts to bleed into a bit of a swirl — unexpected and delicious.

The flavors on display are simple and classic, yet so well executed I can’t deny how much I love this deceivingly stripped back homage to two ingredients that can, at times, be at odds with each other. BOO may be the most simple flavor in the Fall Panna Pack but it is far from one that should be glossed over.


Rating: 9/10

Found at: Goldbelly ($114.95 for 6 pints)

REVIEW: Legendary Foods Protein Sweet Roll (Cinnamon, Wild Berry, Chocolate)

It has been a long time since I’ve posted about a protein snack here. Way back in 2016 when I started the skillet it was a pretty regular occurrence to review protein bars and odd snacks, both here and in brief on Instagram. Now I mostly toss those onto my IG stories for a quickie, and even that is rare — but these new Protein Sweet Rolls from Legendary Foods need a post of their own.

I am a big fan of the Legendary Foods Protein Pastry (Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Chocolate Cake, and Red Velvet are the standouts), which is one of the rare products that actually has a decent enough macro/calorie split and flavor to be worth the cost. Protein Sweet Rolls continue on that trajectory, delivering a wallop of satisfying flavor at approximately 200 calories (depending on flavor) with 20g of protein and 9g of fiber. I tried all three flavors and they’re all on varying levels of delicious. I ate them room temperature straight from the wrapper as well as warmed up, and while I like Legendary Foods’ Protein Pastry’s room temp, these new rolls should 100% be hit with some microwave lovin’. But that’s how I feel about essentially all cinnamon rolls, so it makes total sense.

Cinnamon: 

This is where all rolls began and I am impressed. You’re not going to get Cinnabon-level decadence here but it tastes almost identical to a Pillsbury Grand, straight from the can to oven. The texture is a bit denser and less flaky than an actual roll but the flavor is all there — pop it in the microwave and it’s one of the most delightful 20 grams of protein you will ever eat.

Tons of gooey cinnamon-y filling with a nice saltiness to back it up. For a protein snack I have virtually no complaints, as the flavor emulation and nutrition are so on point. Fantastic.

Rating: 10/10

Wild Berry:

Wild Berry is the weirdest of the bunch, and as a result the least successful. The berry flavor is nondescript and sweet, with the most blatant fake sugar taste of the three. I won’t lie, it’s still pretty decent, especially warmed up, but it’s not a flavor I find myself craving or wanting to really revisit. The more intense erythritol on the finish makes it less desirable, but the textures are still extremely impressive.

I would have loved to see the fruit flavor for this line follow in the Pillsbury footsteps and go orange, or a more traditional real fruit like blueberry, or even a hybrid blueberry orange. The “Wild Berry” Pop Tart style fruit flavor feels out of place in the roll context and falls short of the lofty expectations set by Cinnamon.

Rating: 6.5/10

Chocolate:

I will almost always choose a cinnamon roll over a chocolate roll, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t another fantastic execution for the most indulgent and high calorie of the three. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because both the Chocolate Cake and Hot Fudge Sundae Protein Pastry’s are really good, but this Chocolate Roll HITS. It has an undeniably delicious layer of chocolate frosting on top that reminds me of the icing on a chocolate yeast doughnut. The filling is a little less dense than the first two but the heftiness on top more than makes up for it. The inside has a nice dark chocolate taste that balances out with the fluffy and truly bread-y dough wonderfully.

Through and through this “roll” is a lot more like a doughnut, and it’s the best protein doughnut I’ve ever had. I could see this one easily satisfying a sugary craving for someone who’s trying to not indulge, but for me it’s just a damn tasty 20 grams of protein. Impressive.

Rating: 10/10

Found at: Vitamin Shoppe ($3.79 each)

REVIEW: The Pizza Cupcake (Margherita)

The Pizza Cupcake is a beautiful product. I first got wind of this unique frozen creation through social media in 2021, which lead me to finding its feature on Shark Tank. The concept is simple, and based on the reaction I saw on YouTube, must be good. I was beyond intrigued, but due to a premium on freezer space from my ice cream affinity (addiction), I never pulled the plug. Fast forward to Fall 2022 and the company actually reached out to me to try its product in exchange for some posts on Instagram detailing how I felt about them. Do I love Margherita pizza? Hell yeah. How could I say no! I made a video review of my experience for Instagram and TikTok, which I’ve linked on YouTube below, but I also wanted to do a quick writeup for those who are interested. The folks at Pizza Cupcake sent this to me because their product is now available at 1600 Walmart stores in the U.S. nationwide, and based on my experience, I imagine that number will grow pretty substantially in 2023 and beyond.

A Pizza Cupcake is very straight forward — a doughy base, some sauce, and cheese. I hold the idea near and dear to my heart that the Neapolitan Margherita pizza is one of the world’s most perfect foods, and this cupcake iteration is a lovely homage to one of my favorite culinary delights. The base is a cross between a pizza dough and brioche, and despite having no butter in it tastes EXCEPTIONALLY buttery from the decent dose of high quality extra virgin olive oil. It feels like a denser puff pastry and goes down light as a feather. I can’t get enough. The cheese is rich and stringy with a great balanced creamy, slight saltiness, and quintessential mozzarella snappy chew.

My one qualm with the Pizza Cupcake is that there isn’t enough of the fantastic San Marzano tomato sauce, which is mildly seasoned and full of clean tomato flavor. I love a nice acidic kick to balance out my pie and the sauce inside is pretty light. However, that is very easily remedied by having a cup of marinara on the side to dip, like you would with breadsticks or garlic knots. I wish the packaging suggested pairing it with extra sauce, or maybe even included a little package to warm up, but it doesn’t need more sauce as much as it thrives with it.

I am a huge fan of the Pizza Cupcake. It is one of the best frozen interpretations of pizza I have ever had. They’re great in the oven, done perfectly well in 12 minutes at 375, but even BETTER in the air fryer. The air fryer takes half the time, 6 minutes at 350, and adds a little more crisp to the outside, which I really enjoy. Grab yourself some cupcakes, and a little side of some sauce, and you’ll be in cheesy bread-y heaven.

Rating: 9/10

Found at: Sent to me, but can be bought online or at Walmart

Check out my video review on YouTube!

REVIEW: Milk Bar Chocolate Mint Cookies N’ Cream

Another Milk Bar ice cream…another mixed bag. I rambled on about my relationship with the growing gourmet grocery brand in my last review so I won’t go on about it here. In short, it’s complicated, and this latest creation featuring another flavor combination I adore isn’t making it any easier. Chocolate Mint Cookies N’ Cream is chocolate mint ice cream with chocolate cookie batter, cookies n’ cream crunch, and creamy mint swirl.

I love the idea behind this pint (14 ounces, I know, but for simplicity’s sake) but it has the same foundational issue as the last couple that I have scooped: dual flavored bases. Milk needs to get away from this because it rarely works, and it doesn’t work here. Chocolate mint should be one of the few dual flavored bases that can be pulled off with ease, like in Ben & Jerry’s excellent Minter Wonderland, but just like in Milk’s PB pint, this one tastes off. Specifically I’m tasting spearmint, which is not the type of mint I want to taste with chocolate. It’s cloyingly fragrant with a strange herbaceous quality, lacking any sharp minty punch to contrast the rich chocolate. Don’t get it twisted, the texture is still fantastic, I really love a lot of Milk Bar’s attention to high quality ingredients, but the flavor is bizarre and not at all what I wanted from this gorgeous green-streaked ice cream.

Speaking of gorgeous green, the most intriguing part of this container going into it was the creamy mint swirl, and I’m sad the mint flavor is very much the same spearmint-y adjacent oddity from the base, minus the chocolate. I find the spearmint a little less off-putting when on its own and paired with the sweet syrupy texture of condensed milk, but its creme de menthe hue still feels out of place against the sea of chocolate.

As always with Milk Bar, aside from the smooth silky texture of their bases, the real standout are the swirls. The chocolate cookie batter is the same as PB Cookie Crush and it’s just as phenomenal here as it was there. Bittersweet, gritty, and full of rich chocolate flavor, it’s the component that keeps me digging and digging for every last bit of its cake batter-y divinity. The moment Milk Bar put this swirl into a more straight ahead and determined base with a complimentary mix-in is the day it changes the grocery ice cream game — it’s so good. The cookies n’ cream crunch is what you’d expect, essentially pieces of Oreo cookies dispersed throughout with a softened texture and slight crunch; nothing special or new but essential for the concept.

As I finish the container the spearmint fades more to the back of the profile, partially from the flavor fatigue of the base and partially from the mint swirl being absent in the last 1/3 of the pint. There is an abundance of potential with this ice cream but its flaws make it one I’m not likely to ever revisit, despite some really high moments of brilliant execution in the base texture and cookie batter swirl. Maybe whatever mint extract this is is like cilantro and my tongue is cursed, so your mileage may vary, but as it stands, I would approach this wintery profile with caution.

Rating: 6/10

Found at: Whole Foods ($6.99)

REVIEW: Caffe Panna Secret Garden

Basil is one of the most beautiful ingredients in the culinary universe. Often associated with savory foods, its fragrant complexity isn’t limited simply to pesto, pizza sauce, curry, or garnish on fish. There’s an entire world of possibilities if you open your mind to combining the heralded herb with different, unique, components, including ice cream. Caffe Panna’s Secret Garden is fresh basil infused sweet cream rippled with Sicilian apricot preserves. 

To the unenlightened this may sound odd, but there are truly few things as quintessentially Italian tasting as this stunning imported Panna fused with basil. The base is absolutely perfect. It is rich and indulgent with an immaculately smooth velvety texture that takes over the entirety of my tongue as it melts. It’s decadent but still manages to feel light, refreshing, and even cleansing from the gentle and slightly peppery sweet notes of the basil. The purity of the high end Panna (cream) really gets a chance to shine while never overpowering the more herbaceous qualities of the green gift.

The apricot preserves are a lovely accompaniment to the basil. They’re sweet and thicker than a typical swirl, popping up in little clumps throughout the pint with zero iciness. The preserves carry a nice syrupy density without feeling cloyingly heavy and compliment the basil really well.

Secret Garden is an exceptionally simple and elegant ice cream. It is beautiful in its simplicity and I love it. The only thing that could take it to the next level would be a little bit of texture. This is the type of ice cream that is sensational but after 3 or 4 spoonfuls you’re done, and with a little bit of toothy variation it could be an all timer. Perhaps some crunchy gently candied almonds or hazelnuts or even the stunning shortbread from the Panna Picnic pack’s sibling Cornberry Blues could make this even better; but as it stands it is an ice cream everyone must try. And hey, no one is stopping me (or you) from sprinkling a little crunchy magic on top and turning this secret garden into a secret salad sundae…trust me, it’s fantastic.

Rating: 9/10

Found at: Goldbelly ($114.95 for 6 pints)

REVIEW: CinnaFuego Toast Crunch

CinnaFuego Toast Crunch is a limited edition niche snack release done the right way. Unlike the recent collab between Ritz and Oreo and the ongoing Ritz Bitz S’mores re-release, where packages are made available to 1,000 people or less, this spicy cereal can be found online exclusively at Walmart. Sure, you’ll have to pay shipping, but everyone has a chance to get their hands on this sweet and spicy cereal snack that was way too much fun for me to resist ordering the day it dropped.

The pieces of toast look identical to the crazy squares in Cinnamon Toast Crunch I know and love, but there is an intense spicy cinnamon aroma wafting from the bag straight into my nostrils. It smells distinctly like the type of cinnamon heat I associate with Hot Tamales, Big Red gum, Atomic Fireballs, and those delicious cinnamon bears. In fact, if you’ve had a long night out with one too many shots of Fireball whisky you may get flashbacks from sniffing these fiery squares.

The taste mirrors the smell, with a punchy spicy cinnamon flavor that fuses together pretty naturally with the buttery cinnamon base of CTC. The finish gets a bit black peppery and I can feel the heat lingering in the back of my throat. I’m impressed by the level of spice but it’s definitely still a cinnamon spice as opposed to cayenne or something with a vegetal peppery taste like habanero. Never forget the cinnamon challenge, though, if you breath in too hard while snacking on this cereal you’ll cough — I definitely did. I can see people really hating this; it’s definitely a divisive and borderline aggressive flavor, but as a certified cinnamon fiend I am vibing hard.

In milk this cereal is a little weird. I don’t hate it but I don’t really enjoy it either. Milk tends to temper heat but I’ve found the unsweetened almond milk I eat cereal with to make it less sweet and a touch more peppery without being as punchy on the cinnamon front. I’m more of a dry cereal snacker anyway so this doesn’t really bother me and I’ll happily enjoy this spicy-TC at its crunchiest.

While it’s still available I’d recommend grabbing this limited edition bag to anyone who loves sweet and spicy, or are like me and insist on ingesting all new members of the Toast Crunch family.

Rating: 8/10

Found at: walmart.com ($5.98)

REVIEW: Jeni’s Powdered Jelly Donut

When it comes to donuts the jelly filled variety are near the bottom of my personal tier list. Give me an old fashioned, buttermilk bar, sprinkled cake, custard filled, cruller, chocolate raised, hell, I’ll take even a plain glazed over a jelly filled. But when it comes to ice cream companies that have worked their way into readily available grocery stores? Jeni’s is right up there with the elite, cranking out some of the most consistent and top tier pints you can find in an aisle that also carries riced cauliflower. I sadly don’t get to try as many new Jeni’s flavors as I’d like, with no local scoop shops in the Bay Area and many of my local Whole Foods not keeping up with the times, but I got lucky with this spring drop and couldn’t deny a fruity frozen donut mashup. Powdered Jelly Donut is vanilla custard with raspberry jelly and brown sugar donut crumble.

This vanilla custard is not what I expected — it is comPLEX. As usual with Jeni’s it is rich, dense, and superbly creamy, but to my palate is is anything but a basic vanilla. I get slightly tangy notes akin to a milder cream cheese base, and a pretty legitimate saltiness comes through as well. It’s an extremely deep and heavy flavor with a potent eggy-ness that gets accented by the more nuanced floral notes of vanilla. In short, it’s really good, especially for a pint you can grab at a grocery store — absolutely top shelf stuff. The custard tempers surprisingly quickly for how premium it tastes, which creates a wonderfully velvety texture when the other components come to their proper temperature.

The raspberry jelly is bright, acidic, and tart with a little bit of a floral undertone. Jeni’s website refers to it as “raspberry rose” and while I’m not getting any perfume-y notes there’s definitely a supporting flavor underneath the usual straight ahead slightly sweet and sour berry burst. Out of the freezer the jam is a bit icy, but once tempered properly it has an impressively smooth and jelly-like consistency that plays with the indulgent and rich base really well. If I could make one tweak to it I’d make it a touch sweeter to drive home the donut vibe, but it’s a tasty and fascinating swirl in its own right.

As I’ve said on this blog many times before, donuts are exceedingly hard to pull off in ice cream, and the good news bad news here is the “donut crumble” doesn’t really resemble donuts at all; but it’s awesome. The crumble is really more of a swirl with a soft but gritty consistency similar to cake batter, and reminds me a lot of tres leches cake with its impressively heavy moisture. It has a nice buttery and slightly spiced nutmeg flavor to it that compliments the salty base and tart swirl really well. There’s a touch of astringency in the finish, which isn’t unpleasant, and actually makes the swirl taste a bit more bread-like than the full on sweetness overload in a cake batter. It was smart of Jeni’s to opt for this type of mix-in over actual donut chunks, which would no doubt be much harder to control, I simply would have called it a donut batter swirl. And honestly, that probably would have been something the ice cream enthusiasts would have gone wild for, making this surprisingly complex pint even more desirable.

Rating: 8.5/10

Found at: Whole Foods ($9.99)