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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Found at: Humphry Slocombe ($9.99)
Even though it’s still August, as Halloween candy lines the grocery store shelves and the breakfast cereal’s have gone full on orange, I was beginning to wonder if I would have anything new to scoop leading up to the equinox. I knew some of the best pumpkin ice cream’s from the main brands would make a triumphant return but who would pull a fast one and drop a gourdy surprise? Coming straight out of left field before the Pumpkin Spice Latte even hit Starbucks, 711 answered the call. I’ve never formally reviewed any of their ice creams on this site but have done a number of mini reviews on my Instagram, and for those who don’t know, 711 makes some pretty impressive and fun cheap ice cream. Go! Yum’s Pumpkin Pie combines pumpkin pie ice cream with cinnamon graham ribbons and pie crust pieces.
The pumpkin pie ice cream is relatively mild in flavor with a dominant squashy pumpkin flavor brought to life by cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. I’ve always loved the way the natural smooth and creamy texture of pumpkin puree compliments the richness of dairy to achieve a great balancing act that feels decadent without being too heavy. 711’s ice creams fall somewhere in between the super premium fat content of Ben & Jerry’s and the lighter but still premium quality of Blue Bunny. There’s absolutely no fluffy or gummy consistency but it also doesn’t have an intense density to it. It’s simply really solid mid-tier ice cream that’s perfectly in line with what I’ve had from Go! Yum before.
Without a doubt the best part of this pint is the cinnamon graham ribbon. While I’ve had many great graham ribbons, like in Ben & Jerry’s Pumpkin Cheesecake, this is the first time I’ve had one laced with cinnamon, and it’s awesome. It has a gritty graham crunch with sweet buttery notes that finishes with the gentlest zing of spice. I adore graham in ice cream and the cinnamon compliments it perfectly while also adding a bit more depth to the mellow spicy flavor in the base. The swirl is also thicker and comes along with some bigger bolder chunks than a lot of other graham ribbons, and the ice cream as a whole earns some extra points just for this one very strong component.
The pie crust pieces are also really successful, and rather than just be soggy bland doughy bites, they have a touch of buttery caramelized crunch to them that brings another layer of texture and different taste than the ribbon. I oftentimes find the crust to be the least interesting part of a pumpkin pie and this mix-in takes the pint up a notch rather than drag it down, which is a surprising and welcome addition.
Like most pies, and a lot of ice cream’s, this one gets better with a little extra love from whipped cream. I’m not sure why no mainstream companies have made a pumpkin pie ice cream with a swirl that replicates an integral part of the Thanksgiving experience, but that’s really my only gripe with this flavor as a whole. Given the strength of 711’s swirl game in Toasted S’mores and Mint Cookies and Cream, I wish they included one more layer, but as it stands this is a good and economically sound choice for getting your frozen pumpkin fix this spooky season.
Found at: 711 ($3.99)
The Keebler Elves and I go way back. In fact, in the realm of animated food characters I kinda consider them my homies. At the very least I feel that way about head elf Ernie. I mean, we follow each other on Twitter, and he only follows 116 people so we must be tight, right? At least I thought we were until it took me what felt like three and a half years (two months) to track down the latest Special Batch cookies from the man himself. For whatever reason our relationship seems to have been splintered, he no longer slides into my DM’s, and I was hoping he was just too busy whippin’ up the best of batches to finally schedule that baking seminar we were supposed to embark on together. Nonetheless, Chocolate Caramel Fudge Stripes finally made their way into my snack-osphere and their chocolate fudge shortbread cookie drizzled with rich caramel stripes is certainly going to brighten my almost-autumn day.
It’s August, which means in Salt & Straw land it’s time to put some veggies into ice cream. The idea may seem a little strange at first but last year’s Carrot Cake Batter & Hazelnut Praline was hands down one of my favorites of the year, and the Chocolate Zucchini Bread was no slouch either. Vegetables can be pretty incredible for a vessel of sweetness when paired up properly, whether for texture, flavor, or in this case, even just color. Beet Red Velvet Cake is a chocolate and beet coconut ice cream with chunks of homemade super dark gluten free chocolate cake and ribbons of vegan vanilla cheesecake.
While I’ve never been the type of bad b to slap on some stilettos and my finest face to see who’s sporadic Uber I can wind up in by the end of the night, I’m certainly no stranger to the walk of shame. Although in my case it usually involves getting up from the couch realizing that I had too much fun and that pint that was supposed to be half full is now 100% empty. That glorious strut back to the kitchen kind of feels like I’ve drunkenly forgotten how to be some real hot stuff in my pumps. My hair might not be quite as disheveled and there’s no way I’m gonna throw up, but I know that lingering tinge of dishonor, and it feels like Vice made this ice cream for all of those who can relate to those moments. Choc of Shame combines chocolate ice cream with chocolate brownie dough and chocolate shavings.