REVIEW: Kit Kat Ice Cream

As a bonafide ice cream lover I don’t pay too much attention to Dreyer’s. I’ve had my fair share of their products over the span of my life, but the end result is usually pretty lackluster, like last years Pumpkin Spice Latte, so I don’t feel a need to seek out their newest releases. That being said, sometimes packaging can jump out at me so convincingly as I slowly peruse the frozen aisle that I can’t help but stop; as was the case with the recently re-branded Kit Kat ice cream. In 2016 Dreyer’s released a line of candy bar themed cream’s including 100 Grand, Baby Ruth, and, you guessed it, Kit Kat. They’ve changed the packaging to more closely mimic the wrapper of a candy bar, and although the container doesn’t explicitly state this, they also changed the base from their normal higher fat Grand style to the lighter variety usually reserved for Slow Churned. The new Kit Kat ice cream combines chocolate light ice cream with a wafer swirl and pieces of Kit Kat candy.

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REVIEW: Buff Bake Protein Sandwich Cookies (Snickerdoodle and Double Chocolate)

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At times silly, at times successful, and always divisive, the protein cookie game is an ever growing, and now evolving, market. While the end goal for most companies has been to produce a product that most closely mirrors a soft baked homestyle chewy craveable cookie, Buff Bake are pushing the field into uncharted and beloved territory – the Oreo. Buff Bake are mostly known for their protein-infused spreads, which I had one time and was underwhelmed by, and their Lenny & Larry’s-esque soft baked cookies, which, again, are just alright. However, their new line of Protein Sandwich Cookies promise the creme-filled satisfaction of the grocery GOAT with an added boost of protein. Each package contains four cookies for 220 calories, 13 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbs, 12 grams of protein, and, gasp, 12 grams of sugar.

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REVIEW: Cookies & Screeem M&M’s

In my youthful trick or treating heyday there was definitely a hierarchy when it came to the candy come-up. Not including the occasional full sized candy bar, individual Reese’s cups were always number one, followed by Snickers, Twix, and Milky Way, with all non-chocolate candies being lesser than chocolate – unless they came in big-seeming ‘fun sized’ bags. There was something about the small bags of candy that seemed like a real victory, most notably Skittles and M&M’s.

A bag of M&M’s, usually milk chocolate or peanut, felt like it had twice the value of all other candies that weren’t orange and written in cursive, and getting a couple of those in my hollowed pumpkin head was a real treat. Now, as an adult, I continue to be impressed by bags of M&M’s, as their graphic design game has been incredibly on point, and I still marvel at their size, being forced to buy giant bags to try the limited editions. This year Mars dropped a new particularly eye-pleasing package with Cookies and Screeem M&M’s.

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These spooky poppable treats have one of my favorite packages I’ve ever seen, and I nearly bought them on the visual appeal alone. Despite what the name and image might imply, these M&M’s don’t actually have any cookies in them, which seems like a missed opportunity to really knock this cookie-themed flavor out of the park.

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The candies are a really cool looking black and white speckled shell with a layer of dark chocolate and an inner ball of white chocolate – one of the cooler looking M&M’s – I’m sensing a theme here. The dark semisweet chocolate is slightly bitter but still pretty sweet with a very smooth and melty consistency. It’s clear that it isn’t milk chocolate, but once I hit the bigger, more prominent white chocolate part, it gives me a much more milky essence with cool, creamy, buttery notes. The combo of semisweet and white has a different sensation than either of them on their own, and in construction does emulate the sandwich cookie format of an Oreo.

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They’re chocolate and sweet so they’re good, but why isn’t there any crunchy texture? The cupcake Kisses and Pretzel M&M’s have both been successful with some added crunch inside, and I wish I got some of that here. As the flavor finishes I do get a touch of wafer-y cookie taste that’s more than pure chocolate, a trick that must be embedded within the ominous “natural and artificial flavors”.  For how great the packaging is, I wanted more to truly make my tastebuds screeeeeem, and these ultimately end up feeling like opening the big-looking ‘fun sized’ bags in Halloween night to reveal just 4 or 5 candies – tasty, but simultaneously a bit of a letdown too.

Rating: 7/10
Found at: Target Exclusive ($3.49)
Quick Nutrition: 1 oz – 140 cal – 7g fat – 4g sat fat – 10mg sodium – 20g carb – 18g sugar

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REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s California Honey Rocky Road

The Bay Area is a wonderfully creative place. Our year round agreeable weather, crazy good food scene, and tech giants’ home bases have yielded tons of great innovation, but the inspiration has been alive for decades. Not just the now-mainstream mission style super burrito, or the the major metal influence of Metallica, or the game-changing person-to-person swapping of Craigslist, but something much more classic, and even nostalgic, has its roots in the bay – rocky road ice cream. Lore has it that in 1929 William Dreyer took his wife’s scissors and cut up walnuts and marshmallows to add to his chocolate ice cream on the regular in Oakland, California, mirroring a favorite candy bar made by his partner, Joseph Edy (recognize those names?) After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the ice cream creating duo swapped out walnuts for almonds and gave the flavor a name to would encourage people to smile in the midst of the Depression. 

Accidentally paying homage to its Bay Area roots, Salt & Straw’s California Honey Rocky Road combines chocolate cream cheese ice cream with candied California almonds and a ribbon of honey marshmallow fluff.
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The chocolate cream cheese ice cream is delicious but a little bit different than I anticipated. It’s incredibly smooth, rich, and velvety with the succulent texture of cream cheese but none of the tang. This isn’t an issue, just a bit of a surprise, as I would have welcomed a little bit of funk into the well-established profile of rocky road. The chocolate notes are light and on the milk side of the cocoa-equation, channeling old school scoop shops and little league malt cups eaten with a wooden spoon. It’s classic and very well executed, albeit a bit mild for my personal taste; and despite the cream cheese curveball in the description, shouldn’t push anyone away with unadventurous tastebuds.

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Candied nuts are one of my absolute favorite mix-ins, and this flavor highlights every reason why I love them. The almonds are crunchy, sweet, fatty, and bursting with roasted almond flavor. They pop up in varying sizes, from small pieces of a nut to massive soundeffect-inducing boulders. The candied technique used on the almonds is light and almost crisp, much less like brittle and much more like honeycomb or crisped rice, and it’s a refreshing textural treat.

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The real showstopper in this pint, and one that Salt & Straw is no stranger to using in other great flavors, is the honey marshmallow fluff. I want to go on record and say ALL marshmallow fluff should be made with honey. It takes absolutely nothing away from the gooey, stretchy-sweet qualities of the marshmallow and boosts it up with amazing golden honey goodness. There’s simply nothing lost and everything gained by fusing the two elements together. The swirl is incredibly ample and well-placed throughout the container, often setting up in massive globs big enough to get an entire spoonful, which is a must, and is indulgent deliciousness at its finest.

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Rocky road is not one of my go-to staple ice cream flavors, but this is the best rocky road I’ve ever had. It’s elevated enough to standout against the many others I’ve had while not steering too far away from the core of what makes this flavor what it is. With a darker, more complex chocolate base this could be a pint I have to stock up on for the winter, but as it stands it’s just a damn good twist on a classic, and an absolute must try if you’re a rocky road enthusiast.

Rating: 9/10
Found at: Salt & Straw (San Francisco, CA)

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Dark Chocolate Mint Fudge Stripes

Just when you thought those funny little Elves had started to dip into the deep end of limited time offerings, they return with another safe, albeit classic and delicious, limited batch flavor – Dark Chocolate Mint. Although I’ve gotta give them credit, they’re definitely throwing a cookie curveball releasing a flavor traditionally served alongside a blanket of snow at a time when most of the country is still sweating in triple digits. It would be like Oreo dropping their long lost Gingerbread cookie in Spring – it just doesn’t make sense, and yet, I can’t help but feel like there’s no wrong time for a taste of Winter.

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Opening up the long crinkly package releases an unmistakable aroma – Thin Mints. These striped cookie tires smell almost identical to the Girl Scouts’ classic that also reign supreme during a time of no Winter Wonderland vibes. Maybe Keebler are onto something, as is evidenced by their year round Thin Mint knockoff Grasshoppers – that people get down on the delicious pairing of chocolate and mint whether or not there’s a long branch of mistletoe dangling over their heads.

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The taste is also very similar to Thin Mints, a lovely marriage of chocolate and peppermint, just a bit less minty, and more obviously, much creamier because of the great green stripe of fudge along the top. The extra creamy notes also make the cookie register a bit sweeter than Thin Mints or Grasshoppers, with a heartier, deeper crunch and satisfying smoothness. The stripe on these cookies feels less notoriously waxy than their older siblings with a less hardened texture that provides a more legitimate creaminess than what I know and generally love from some Stripes.

Honestly, there’s not too much more to say about these cookies. The balance of peppermint sharpness to cooling sweetness is on point and it’s a classic pairing that will essentially sell itself. If I had one criticism it would be perhaps to make the cookie a bit more bitter since they used the word “dark” in the title, but overall these are a damn fine grocery cookie that will give anyone a taste of Christmas bliss, even if they’re wearing shorts.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: Sent to me by Keebler but spotted at Target and Walmart!
Quick Nutrition: 2 cookies – 140 cal – 6g fat – 4g sat fat – 120mg sodium – 20g carb – 11g sugar – 1g protein

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REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs Peanut Butter Salted Fudge

Peanut butter and chocolate.  One of the greatest flavor combinations known to man and no stranger to the magical melty world of ice cream.  It’s that hard to top yin and yang of sweet and salty and creamy and fatty that ultimately just equates to yummy and delicious.  As many times as companies have put their own stamp on the classic team up, we’re seventeen years into the 21st century and STILL getting new takes.  Brand new for this year, Haagen-Dazs try another spin on the sweet treat all star with Peanut Butter Salted Fudge, which combines peanut butter ice cream with chocolate covered peanuts and a salted fudge swirl.

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The peanut butter ice cream is smooth and sweet with a notable salty shine that immediately reminds me of biting into the iconic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  Despite trying to emulate peanut butter, the base itself isn’t too heavy or dense and has a very nice light and creamy mouthfeel that is neither too soft or dense.

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The salted fudge ribbons help aid in the execution of the light yet decadent experience in that they start with a sweet cocoa flavor and finish with a strong saltiness that lingers with a little dance on my tongue.  The ribbon is mostly integrated throughout in thin sheets which gives most bites a much more chocolate peanut butter flavor than pure peanut butter, with neither flavor becoming too dominant over the other.  There are occasional larger chunks of the salted chocolate that deliver a quick burst of sweetness before melting away and beg me to keep on digging.

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As good as the other two components are, the real star of the show here is the chocolate covered peanuts.  I don’t think I’ve ever had chocolate covered peanuts in ice cream before and I’ll be damned if I don’t feel like I’ve been robbed of an incredible mix in for nearly 30 years of my life.  The peanuts have kept all the snap and crunch that makes them such an undeniable snack and work in perfect harmony with the ribbons and cream to emulate the frozen experience of eating the world’s best chocolate cup.  The flavor and texture immediately reminds me of Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar and all the elements combined taste exactly like Mr. Goodbar seduced a fine young Mrs. Reese’s and spawned the baby that is Peanut Butter Salted Fudge.

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This new release from Haagen-Dazs isn’t reinventing the wheel by any means but it delivers a fantastic take on chocolate peanut butter that is a welcome addition to a freezer aisle with many variations on the classic combo.

Rating: 8/10
Found at: Safeway

REVIEW: Little G Snack Attack

I’m a snacker. I fancy me a good breakfast and dinner but throughout the day I would much rather have a series of smaller snacks than a sit down lunch to constantly keep my food-buzz rollin. I would also rather eat ice cream than lunch, and usually at least once a week I do that, and say I ‘eff the yogurt and salad I’m gettin’ me a double dip. Understanding my heart and soul greatly, one of Little G’s signature ice cream flavors is Snack Attack, which combines vanilla bean ice cream with a crispy caramelized snack mix of pretzels, potato chips, butter crackers, peanut butter cups, and candy coated chocolate. Perfect for a snack addicts meal replacement plan. Spoons up!

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This pint is dense.  Snack Attack is a wall to wall mix in assault of candy that looks unlike any other ice cream container you will ever open. It’s colorful and chunky and downright wild. Dipping my spoon in it’s almost impossible to isolate the base but I get a little bit of it and it is a very sweet but tasty vanilla. There’s a hint of saltiness to it, not like the aggressive sea salt used by Salt and Straw, but like some of the salt from the pretzels and chips have soaked into the base, which balances out some of the sweetness.

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The predominant flavor here is candy.  M&M’s and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups take center stage as the ice cream is merely a backdrop to the junk aisle staples that make up most of the containers’ contents. It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter and milky creamy goodness and on those points this pint definitely delivers.

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As much fun as this flavor is to eat I do have some issues with it. I really wanted big satisfying hits of salt to counter all of the sweet, and unfortunately my pint was dangerously low, almost devoid, of crackers, chips, and pretzels. Again, there was a bit of salty presence in the ice cream itself but I never got a single chip or cracker and the only pretzel piece I got was soggy and softer than any of the candy pieces. While it is insanely fun to be eating ice cream and pull out half of a peanut butter cup, which I did, twice, I couldn’t help but feel like to be paying such a premium price I want more of what the description promises.

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Even though this flavor didn’t completely hit the mark for me I have to admit that I was left thinking about the eating experience right after it was gone. While it doesn’t satisfy the same part of my tongue and brain that a big creamy scoop of ice cream does, it is an incredibly unique, crunchy, and fun eating experience that every ice cream lover ought to try at least once, and very well could fall in love with.

Rating: 8/10