REVIEW: Baskin Robbins’ Caramel Cream Puff

Finally, for the first time since April’s Boston Cream Pie we have a new Baskin Robbins Flavor of the Month. Maybe I just got spoiled since this blog launched in late 2016 but four retreads in a row feels like an awful lot, especially since three of them were just from the year prior and not a shadowed fan favorite like Oreo ‘N Cake. This month’s new-new is pretty intriguing, putting a frozen twist on one of dessert’s finest and fanciest finger foods. Caramel Cream Puff combines salted caramel ice cream and pastry cream-flavored mousse ice cream with burnt sugar crystals, pastry pieces, and a burnt caramel swirl.

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First things first – Baskin Robbins have changed their cups, and when you live in my funny little universe that kinda feels like a big deal. The blue on blue is a nice switch up from the vibrant pink and I like the cooling aesthetic. In addition to the cool new cup, this cool new scoop is pretty damn satisfying as well.

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The pastry cream-flavored mousse has an intense richness and hearty fluff to it that really does remind me of the inside of a cream puff. The mousse texture stands out along with pronounced creamy vanilla notes for a very unique base that’s both delicious and accurate. The salted caramel ice cream, at least in this scoop, very much played the supporting role with just slight caramel tones peaking through the mousse, which is a good thing because I’m not a huge fan of BR’s Salty Caramel base.

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The dopest part of this flavor are the burnt sugar crystals, which taste just like the caramelized top of a crème brulee. They crunch and crack with awesome deep burnt sugar flavor and a perfectly stark textural contrast to the rich mousse. The pastry pieces are nice and chewy, but much like the outside of an actual cream puff or eclair they don’t pack much flavor.

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I wish I had gotten more burnt caramel swirl, but what I did get was tasty. Whispy and slightly syrupy the caramel adds an extra hint of sweetness and gooey texture that compliments the density of the base really well. Towards the bottom I got more of the salty caramel ice cream and can confirm it’s pretty lackluster, and while there actually was a decent ratio of it in the scoop I didn’t taste it too much because of how mellow it is. This would have been a stronger scoop if BR went harder on the swirl and stuck to just one base, but still, the caramel vibes do come through.

Caramel Cream Puff is a unique and pretty well executed scoop that’s a very welcome breath of fresh air for the 31 flavored brand, and while it’s not stop-in-your-tracks fantastic it’s one that’s worth a trip to the shop during the last full month of summer.

Rating: 7.5/10

Found at: Baskin Robbins ($3.19)

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REVIEW: Baskin Robbins’ Oreo ‘N Cake

Baskin Robbins have been really slackin’ off lately. I made it my mission when I started the skillet to review every Flavor of the Month and be the ultimate go-to for anyone curious about BR’s creations. You may have noticed the last two months have been silent on this site for the 31 flavored brand, and that’s not because of personal fatigue, but because of BR’s rare back to back months of repeats. May brought back the solid Mom’s Makin’ Cookies and last month saw a second dip of Caramel Macchiato. I was sure that for July, National Ice Cream Month, and a month that has become synonymous with epic Oreo collabs, would yield a new scoop for me to dig into. Nope. It’s back to back to back repeats, but there is a caveat with this month’s call back.

July 2018 see’s the return of Oreo ‘N Cake, a flavor that proceeded the birth of the skillet and one that I really enjoyed when it came out in 2015. In fact, I liked it so much that during that hot July three years ago I scooped it three times, and according to BR’s website, this is their most popular Flavor of the Month of all time. Oreo ‘N Cake combines a cake flavored ice cream with Oreo cookie pieces and a chocolate cake batter ribbon.

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It’s National Ice Cream Month!

While in my heart I’m a true autumn boy who loves the leaves falling, early darkened skies, and cinnamon-all-in-my-everything aesthetic of October through December, I also have a secret soft spot for July, also known as National Ice Cream Month.  Yes, I know that on social media every day is another #something day, but honoring the sacred tradition of the scoop is an actual holiday, signed into public law by Ronald Reagan on July 9, 1984.  With National Ice Cream Day coming just one week from today, on Sunday July 16, this week the skillet is going full on ice cream with nothing but dreamy, melty, delicious ice cream reviews.

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While it’s pretty evident if you’ve read anything on this site I don’t need an excuse to enjoy some ice cream, but for those of you that may need a little extra encouragement this could be a great time to go and share a scoop with someone you love.  Many shops will have specials, some will be crowded, but be honest – when has going out for ice cream ever not been awesome?  It’s one of my favorite activities, especially with this little lady, the renowned Sil B:

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What are your favorite ice cream flavors?  Or ice cream brands?  Do you have any memories associated with ice cream?  Chocolate ice cream is America’s favorite dessert, but I know you’ve got a better flavor than that – hit me with it!

REVIEW: Baskin Robbins Chocolate Hazelnut

For as long as I can remember Baskin Robbins’ flavor of the month in February has been Love Potion #31, but this year, much like they did in October with Trick Oreo Treat, they have made their love potion a seasonal flavor and brought back Chocolate Hazelnut as the February special.  It’s no secret that chocolate is a sensual aphrodisiac, but is there some romantic allure to the hazelnut as well?  I’ve noticed it popping up more frequently this time of year, and with February 5 being named “World Nutella Day” (apparently since 2007), there may be a consumer conspiracy at hand.  Baskin Robbins’ ode to the apparent love nut is chocolate ice cream and hazelnuts covered with chocolate flavored coating swirled with a hazelnut cookie fudge ribbon.

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The chocolate ice cream is just as expected – smooth, decadent, and creamy with a wonderful milk finish that isn’t too dark or bitter.  It’s that classic high quality chocolate flavor that isn’t remarkable or complex but serves as a great foundation to building a solid scoop. The hazelnuts are ample and give big bursts of genuine nutty flavor.  They aren’t tiny pieces either – they’re entire chocolate covered nuts that bring not only a solid richness and big textural crunch, but extra sweetness as well because of the coating.  Hazelnut is not one of my favorite nuts but their unique, almost bitter flavor really shines in the sea of sweet chocolate.

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While the ice cream and hazelnuts are both very good, the real star of the show here is the hazelnut cookie fudge ribbon; a thick fudgey ganache with crunched up cookie grit and fantastic pops of saltiness.  The darkness of the ribbon flourishes against the lighter chocolate base and the salt cuts through the dominant sweet flavors bringing the whole experience together.  I’ve always felt that BR does ribbons really well and this one truly makes all of the flavors sing and elevates it beyond what would have been a fairly basic scoop.

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If you love Nutella you’re going to love this flavor; there are no if ands or buts that this scoop delivers huge chocolate hazelnut satisfaction.  If you’re like me, and think Nutella is good but a touch overrated and you really fist pump for team peanut butter, you will likely also find this February offering surprisingly delicious.  I went into this expecting to be slightly underwhelmed but the variance in texture and layers of chocolate made it much more interesting than I thought it would be, and is a worthy side piece to Love Potion #31.

Rating: 8.5/10

REVIEW: Baskin Robbin’s Superfudge Truffle

New year, new flavors, new excitement.  Even though they didn’t close out the year with the strongest choices, I will always look forward to the Baskin Robbin’s flavor of the month.  January 2017 sees a return of a former featured favorite from BR’s past, Superfudge Truffle, which combines a rich chocolate fudge ice cream with decadent chocolate truffle and toffee truffle pieces.

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Are you a fan of chocolate?  Meet your new heroin.  This is one of the richest, thickest, chocolate on chocolate onslaughts I have ever scooped into and it is GOOD.  There’s no beating around the bush with the decadence in this ice cream – the chocolate fudge base is so fully loaded with chocolate it’s nearly black with a sticky brownie-batter like texture.  The base, while called fudge, is actually better than most fudge’s I’ve had because it isn’t so overwhelmingly sweet that it’ll give you a headache (like most fudges are).  Just when you think you’ve hit the ceiling of chocolate indulgence you frequently run into a chocolate truffle, which melts with the luxurious texture you’d expect, and stands up to the deep darkness of the fudge cream.

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One of my concerns going into this flavor was that there would be no reprieve from the chocolate, but the use of the toffee truffles works surprisingly well.  While still chocolate in nature, the toffee truffles give a slight crunch and burst of saltiness that not only provides the palate a break from the cocoa but highlights its full bodied brilliance even more.  Because toffee has a buttery and salty profile, as opposed to the pure sweetness of caramel or white chocolate, the alternating types of truffles keep the flavor fresh and insanely addictive.  Some of them have a crunch like a giant chocolate chip and some of them blend their way into the chocolate fudge backdrop.

This flavor is very similar to another Baskin Robbin’s classic that flows in and out of rotation – Mississippi Mud – which combines chocolate fudge ice cream with regular chocolate ice cream, fudge chunks, and a fudge ribbon.  Mississippi Mud was my go-to for total chocolate annihilation when it was available, and Superfudge might even best it because of the use of only the fudge base and the inclusion of the toffee truffles.  Superfudge Truffle is on par with the best flavors Baskin Robbin’s have released the last couple of years, AND, when it’s all gone it leaves dark chocolate psychedelic artwork in your cup.  Double win.

Rating: 9/10

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REVIEW: Baskin Robbin’s Peppermint Bark in the Dark

Although still technically autumn, the flavor gods have officially decided it’s time to be immersed in a wintery mintery wonderland as crisp and cool as the air outside.  For the last week or so it feels like the air may as well be peppermint flavored as that has been the dominant taste every time I’ve opened my mouth.  Baskin Robbins have decided to fittingly join the party with their December flavor of the month Peppermint Bark in the Dark.

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Originally released in December of 2013, the flavor is as straight forward as it sounds – peppermint bark in chocolate ice cream.  The pairing of chocolate and mint is one of the most classic holiday flavors around, so classic that unlike eggnog or pecan pie it can be found year round in everything from York Peppermint Patties to BR’s own Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.  It’s this common-place profile that makes this flavor a little bit of a letdown as the headliner of a year that brought both a new spin on a Halloween flavor (Trick Oreo Treat Dark) and cookies and cream mashed up with Frosted Flakes (Oreo Milk ’N Cereal).

The ice cream is good – a rich chocolate base that carries the essence of peppermint in every bite, with the occasional bursts of very strong peppermint and crunch from the bark – it’s just not anything particularly new or exciting.  The pieces of bark hold their own and deliver cool bursts that fill your mouth with Christmas cheer, floating along in a chocolate river with glassy-smooth texture.  The scoop that I got did not have nearly as many, or as big, chunks of peppermint bark in it as the promotional picture which is a bit of a rare letdown for Baskin Robbins.  The picture on their site and ingredients also imply some kind of ribbon which I didn’t have any of.  Again, the ice cream is solid and of high quality, just not as good as the previous two years’ December Flavors of the Month – York Peppermint Pattie and Oreo Cool Mint Chocolate – both of which had more elements to keep them exciting.

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Searching for them chunks and swirl – not so much

What would make this a more successful flavor?  One more component – a ribbon or swirl or additional mix-in (maybe it was supposed to be there, Baskin HR were of no help trying to figure this out), and maybe something less predictable.  Toss a marshmallow swirl in to highlight the white chocolate and call it “Santa’s Rocky Sleigh” or some spiced cookies and caramel and call it “Peppermint Stocking Stuffer” – something along those lines.  A perfectly suitable flavor for the holiday’s, just a tad bit boring and not anything you should rush to the scoop shop to try ahead of any other chocolate mint mash ups from other brands in grocery or otherwise.

Rating: 7/10

REVIEW: Baskin Robbin’s First Class Camouflage

At-tennnnnnTION!!!

Your regularly ignored neapolitan ice cream has been strip searched, reworked, and made relevant again. Goodbye strawberry and vanilla, hello cake and salted caramel. Keep the dark daddy chocolate to hold it all together and you’ve got Baskin Robbins’ First Class Camouflage.

Originally released in November 2014 to celebrate Veterans Day, this is the flavors’ second appearance alongside the limited edition camouflage colored waffle cone.

The ice cream itself is visually a spot on representation of American military camo. Swirled together in random quantities are brown (chocolate), tan (caramel), and a deep forest green (cake). Unfortunately the pale color palate is also representative of the way the flavors work together on the spoon and they miss the mark on the potential of this scoop.

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I was initially excited about this flavor because while I had read about Baskin’s “Salty Caramel” ice cream on their website I had never seen it available in stores. Being one of the main components of the camouflage it seemed finally my time to try it – but not quite. The caramel flavor in first class is completely devoid of any saltiness at all, likely due to the lack of “salty caramel ribbon” that is supposed to come in the flavor. What it does have, is a wonderful deep burnt caramel essence reminiscent of the crystallized sugar on top of a creme brûlée. I have never tasted a rich caramel flavor like this from BR before and that is this limited offering’s greatest success, even though its name is misleading.

On the flip side, its biggest weakness is a total lack of any cake flavor whatsoever. Cake is a much more delicate flavor than chocolate or caramel and as a result gets completely lost in the trenches of sugary warfare. The green “cake” doesn’t taste like cake nor does it taste like vanilla, it simply becomes a sweet creamy question mark being bullied by chocolate. To be fair, it’s hard to judge a flavor like this on one scoop, because like neapolitan and spumoni, every serving is a little different depending on the ratios of each component.

What would have really helped make this flavor more interesting is a ribbon or mix in of ANY KIND. Without little bits of cake to drive the green or a swirly salty caramel ribbon to punctuate the tan the flavor reluctantly becomes a poor mans version of the Baskin staple Gold Medal Ribbon.

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There is nothing wrong with this flavor but there is nothing particularly special about it either. The base is up to standard BR quality – creamy, rich, and velvety smooth, and the chocolate has a great prominent cocoa flavor. Good as far as quality ice cream is concerned but not worth a trip or forgoing your favorite flavor on your next visit.

Rating: 6/10