REVIEW: The Lion’s Pack Edible Cookie Dough (Chocolate Chip, Monster Cookie, Snickerdoodle, Teddy Dough, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tart, Oreo Cake Batter, Snickers Candy Bar)

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As big of a consumer as I am of protein bars and powders, I’m a bit wary of the massive smattering of novelty protein items hitting the shelves these days. Cookies, cakes, and candies don’t tend to work as well, both in terms of nutrition and taste, and the macro-to-taste enjoyment ratio is usually off. I first got wind of The Lion’s Pack last year and ordered a couple of their protein peanut butter spreads, which I thought were fine tasting but texturally pretty off. At the time they also offered a number of protein cookie dough’s, but they looked odd and didn’t seem very appealing at all. In the last six or so months the company have been aggressively promoting the reformulating of their dough recipe, and from what I’ve seen it looks solid. The dough’s are all vegan, gluten free, and made-to-order, with over 20 flavors to choose from.

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REVIEW: Little G’s Peanut Butter Buckeye

I’ve never been to Ohio, but I’ve heard a lot about the lore of the Buckeye. No, not the actual nut from the tree, but the chocolate dipped peanut butter fudge Christmas confection popular in the state that seems to have fellow choco-PB lovers goin’ goo goo ga ga. I’ll be honest, as many chocolate covered peanut butter truffles, cookies, cupcakes, and general candles as I’ve had, I’ve never had a proper buckeye, and I’m alright with letting Little G once again pop my tastebud cherry with their take on the Midwest classic. Little G’s Peanut Butter Buckeye combines milk chocolate ice cream with peanut butter swirl, buckeyes, and peanut butter cookie dough.

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As promising as this flavor sounds on paper, my journey with this pint began very negatively. Digging into the sea of darkness my spoon made a heartbreaking noise to any ice cream lover – the crunchy sound of ice. Smooth creamy silence was replaced with a harsh scraping noise and tasting it wasn’t any better – it was like a Fudgesicle. As I noted in an earlier review, my shipment showed up very soft, and it seems as though this one took a hit it couldn’t recover from.

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Being that I’m not a quitter, especially when it comes to my food-related splurges, I kept digging, and fortunately about half way into the pint I was greeted with lovely, creamy, ice cream that actually exceeded my expectations for a chocolate base. The milk chocolate ice cream is nearly flawless – extremely smooth and luscious with a big, bold cocoa flavor that has just the right amount of sweetness and a touch more darkness than I was anticipating, which was a very pleasant surprise.

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As is evidenced by the pictures, this container is brimming with mix-ins, and is so dense it might be the heaviest pint of ice cream I’ve ever picked up. The flavors’ namesake, the buckeyes, are all over the place, and are perfectly sized to take over the spoon but not so big that they can’t be taken down whole. Even though these chocolatey balls are the most unique component at play, they’re my least favorite, and I found the sheer volume of them to be distracting. I’ve learned about myself recently that I don’t care much for an abundant amount of hard chocolate in my ice cream, and while they are filled with a peanut butter cream, the amount of filling is very small compared to the chocolate, and they lose some of their luster against the chocolate base. I may have liked them more if the ice cream was peanut butter flavored and I got that lovely Reese’s harmony, but chocolate on chocolate with a hint of PB isn’t really my thing, and I ended up eating around them more than searching for them.

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Fortunately for me and my PB-hungry tastebuds, the other two mix-ins are no stranger to Little G’s arsenal and they are downright awesome. The peanut butter cookie dough pieces are big, slightly salty, and gritty with a buttery chew that I absolutely love. The peanut butter is simply peanut butter, in massive gobs, which have hardened and gradually soften in their salty fatty, just-sweet-enough splendor as I continue to eat in glee. The large amounts of peanut butter can become a problem, essentially like bricks, but I choose to just let them sit there and gradually chip away at them rather than see them as a frozen issue.

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While this buckeye journey started on a down note, it definitely ended on a high, and it’s the type of ice cream that is so intense and decadent it forces you to slow down and savor the massive flavor at hand. It’s one of those flavors that demonstrates everything Little G is about, and with some more careful shipping and a bit more attention to detail, this could be a classic entry to the limited time chronicles of Little G.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: http://www.goldbely.com (use code seanpancake0 for $25 off of your first order!)

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REVIIEW: Phin & Phebes Vanilla Malt Cookie Dough

Phin & Phebes are a Brooklyn, NY based ice cream company founded in 2010 on the basis of churning out a small-batch product using all real non-GMO and fair trade sourced ingredients with no stabilizers or corn syrup.  I’ve been seeing their name floating around for awhile but never gave them too much notice until a couple of flavors popped up at a local store that sounded too good to pass up.  The first flavor I decided to dig into is Vanilla Malt Cookie Dough, which simply enough combines a vanilla malt cream with chocolate chip cookie dough.

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Immediately the base hits me with a very intense sweetness, which normally I embrace in ice cream but for some reason is coming off as too sweet, almost cloying.  The texture starts pretty creamy but finishes really thin and off-putting, like odd tasting cereal milk, and I gotta say I really don’t enjoy it.  What I do enjoy, though, is the intense malty flavor, which has just the right amount of funkiness to distinguish it from a traditional vanilla or sweet cream.  Unfortunately the malted flavor isn’t intriguing enough to offset the aggressive sweetness and lackluster texture that dominates the overall profile.

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The cookie dough chunks are of average good size and have the gritty chew you would expect from this kind of mix in, but again, they taste incredibly sweet and don’t help push the flavor in any kind of enjoyable direction.  While there is a nice brown sugar sheen coming from the dough I’m not getting any prominent butteriness or saltiness and the small chocolate chips are the only hint of complexity I’m getting out of this pint at all.

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As an introduction to a new company I’ve been left extremely underwhelmed by Phin & Phebes and hope that this is an outlier miss flavor from a brand I was really looking forward to trying.  There is nothing about this ice cream that makes me want to eat more of it and the onslaught of sugar without any kind of redemption becomes incredibly single-noted, and quite frankly, boring.
Rating: 4/10
Found at: Grocery Outlet ($2.99)

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REVIEW: Dreyers Cake and Cookie Fantasy Frozen Yogurt

Going and getting a giant cup of build your own frozen yogurt topped with candy, fruit, cereal, cheesecake, and whatever else I could fit into my bowl used to be one of my favorite weekend activities before I became a full blown ice cream addict.  While I still venture to the froyo shop from time to time, one thing I have never done is buy a container of frozen yogurt from the grocery store – until now.  As I was pursuing the frozen aisle, which lights itself up as I gradually strut by its fine offerings, I was caught off guard by a glowing purple and pink container right near the Dreyers Slow Churned section.  In tandem with the Dreyers’ cookie dough line, the company also launched three new frozen yogurts, including this eye grabbing beauty.  Cake and Cookie Fantasy combines red velvet cake and sugar cookie frozen yogurt swirled together with decadent cookie dough pieces and chocolate cookie crumbles.

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This flavor is a lot of fun.  There’s a nice yogurt tang to the base of the ice cream, er, yogurt, which gives it a genuine and light frozen yogurt flavor that is different for a a tub full of cookies and cookie dough, but overall pretty pleasant.  The red velvet flavor is noticeable immediately with the subtle light cocoa working well with the yogurt tang to emulate the classic cake garnished with cream cheese frosting.  The white colored sugar cookie yogurt’s flavor is hard to isolate among all of the swirls, but it tastes less tangy and has an overall smoother consistency than the red velvet that could be channeling the cookie’s iconic butteriness; but it definitely registers more vanilla than an actual baked good.

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The mix ins are pretty solid too, the chocolate wafer cookies bring that classic cookies n cream slightly bitter cocoa note and the cookie dough adds nice pops of saltiness to go along with the typical gritty chew you know and love in dough.  Although the description doesn’t specify, I would think the dough is sugar cookie dough and the chocolate-less buttery flavor definitely gets the job done.  The pieces of both are pretty small, but there’s a good amount of them, and between the two mix ins and two flavors of yogurt each bite brings something slightly different to the ever-evolving scoop experience.  It definitely doesn’t eat as decadently as a scoop of premium cookie dough ice cream but this flavor is well executed and deserving of your dollars and freezer space if you get down with the cookies and the dough.

Rating: 8/10

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