REVIEW: Tillamook’s Sea Salt & Honeycomb Toffee

Happy National Ice Cream Month! Or more specifically, happy week-of National Ice Cream Day! As has become a mini tradition on this site, the week of the day that celebrates one of the finest culinary delights of all time will be fully dedicated to nothing but ice cream. I realize over the last year there have been many weeks where I only posted about ice cream, but that was an accident and more reflects what I was eating than what we should be celebrating. To kick off the festivities we’re digging into a new flavor from Tillamook – one of the most underrated fine dairy churners on the West Coast now in many grocery stores including Target. Sea Salt & Honeycomb Toffee combines a honey custard with crunchy pieces of crunchy honeycomb toffee and a touch of sea salt.

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REVIEW: Tillamook’s Special Batch Frosted Carrot Cake

Spring hath sprung, which, aside from the sunshine and flowers and strawberry all-in-my-everything, mostly means boy oh boy do I miss my cinnamon. In the seasonal snack universe April and May means the scent of cinnamon in the air is only a mere two or three months away, but any way that I can get my fix in the meantime is a spicy blessing for me. While it wasn’t originally released this year, I finally found a very tantalizing special batch ice cream from Tillamook to tease my spicy intrigue. Frosted Carrot Cake combines a carrot cake ice cream with layers of cream cheese frosting and walnuts.

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REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Chillin’ the Roast Truffles

Caffeine is the most widely abused drug in the world, and I’ve got to imagine alcohol isn’t too far behind it. Most people start their day with a steaming cup of coffee and end it with an ice cold brewski or glass of wine; and the two beverages allow us to get our days rollin’ and then wind them down, respectively. In my funny little world, I would rather start my day off with the coffee and end it with a nice creamy scoop of some high quality ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s Truffles line has a new solution to all of my problems with Chillin’ the Roast, which combines cold brew coffee ice cream with chocolate cookie-covered coffee liqueur truffles and a fudge swirl.

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REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake Truffles

In addition to dropping non-stop pun-tastic pints, Ben & Jerry’s love to work with themes. A couple years back it was the novelty-driven Cores, followed by the one-upped Cookie Cores, last year it was the “whoops we ordered way too many fudge flakes” line, and this year it’s all about truffles. All three of B&J’s new releases to kick off the coveted ice cream season revolve around the ganache-centric European staple, including Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake, which pairs a caramel cheesecake ice cream with graham cracker-covered cheesecake truffles and chocolate cookie swirls. Do you have a respirator handy, cause my breathing is HEAVY!

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REVIEW: Magnum’s White Chocolate Vanilla Tub

I tend to like variety in my sweets, and especially in ice cream. Different layers, textures, and flavors that work together to create one sumptuous symphony of taste sensation. But at times there’s something appealing about excess. Tons of chocolate, tons of peanut butter, tons of caramel, or less commonly, tons of white? Magnum’s new line of pint tubs has one unexpected, and potentially one-noted offering in White Chocolate Vanilla, which combines vanilla ice cream and white chocolate shards in a cracking white chocolate shell.

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JC’s Scoops’ Tea & Biscuits

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Tea time is a special time. Whether doing it up super proper with finger sandwiches and scones garnished with Devonshire cream, or just making a cup at home and cozying up with a good book, the relaxing nature of warmth and caffeine brings joy to my soul. Pair that up with a delicious sweet treat and you have yourself an ultimate recipe for success. The same can be said for a mellow date to the ice cream shop, full of brimming scoops and smiles; few activities top my list of good times like those defined by waffle cones. Once again tugging at my heart strings to combine the best of both worlds into one experience, JC’s Scoops gave the world Tea & Biscuits, which is sweet milk tea ice cream with ribbons of cookie butter and pieces of tea biscuits.

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REVIEW: Baskin Robbins’ YORK Peppermint Pattie

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…to overdose on mint. While winter is the perfect time to let the chill in the air become the chill in your mouth, there’s one candy that reps the cooling effect year round like no other – YORK Peppermint Pattie’s. Thick, dense, chewy, and intensely minty, it’s the kind of candy you either love or hate, and fortunately for me I get down with the choco-mint overload. Continuing their tradition of collaborating with all of the biggest candy brands, Baskin Robbins have brought back the aptly titled YORK Peppermint Pattie for December, which combines mini YORK peppermint patties and a rich dark chocolate mint ribbon swirled in mint ice cream.

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REVIEW: Ample Hills’ No Sleep Til Pumpkin

It wasn’t until 2003, with Starbucks’ introduction of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, that the two very different but very popular world’s of coffee and pumpkin pie would collide to create one of the most iconic and polarizing drinks of the last fifteen years. It’s hard to imagine a time when the two flavors didn’t coexist, and with everything from M&M’s to Peeps to Bath & Body Works body wash emulating the cafe concotion, it’s fitting that ice cream is no stranger to the coveted combination. As their sole pumpkin offering for 2017, Ample Hills brought back No Sleep Til Pumpkin, which is dark coffee ice cream with pieces of pumpkin ooey gooey butter cake.

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REVIEW: Coolhaus’ Street Cart Churro Dough

Like many people living on the West Coast, my first introduction to churro’s was amid the tasty backdrop of Disneyland’s Main Street. The crispy crunchy combination of fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar became a staple and must-have anytime visiting the Magic Kingdom. Now, living in San Francisco, I often see the more true origin of churro’s, in little push carts in the streets of the Mission district, on a regular basis. While I don’t often indulge in the long sticks of spicy delight while hitting up the mish for some tacos, it’s a flavor combo I still hold dear to my heart, and if you throw that shit in some ice cream I’m on it like an abandoned twenty dollar bill. Coolhaus’ Street Cart Churro Dough combines brown butter ice cream with cinnamon sugar churro dough and a chocolate chip swirl.

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When I initially read the description of this flavor my eyes lit up with excitement over the brown butter ice cream, which is one of my favorites, and I’m happy to report that Coolhaus delivered big time with its execution. It’s velvety smooth and creamy with an unmistakable browned butter flavor that accentuates the richness of the high quality dairy perfectly. The butter is incredibly authentic, and even leaves a slick on my tongue like I just put pack multiple handfuls of freshly popped movie theater popcorn. It’s a subtle spin on your average vanilla or sweet cream that elevates ice cream’s decadence to new heights when it’s done well, and this one is exceptional.

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The pieces of churro dough are also really good. They’re small gritty balls of cinnamon sugar delight very reminiscent of the mix-in from Ben & Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns with a bit more crunch and salty shine. While their overall flavor is definitely sweet, there’s an undercurrent of saltiness that really drives the dough-y component home. The cinnamon pops strong against the brown butter base and the two work together perfectly.

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Calling the chocolate chips a swirl is pretty accurate, as they’re more integrated specks of chocolate throughout than actual chunks of chocolate. The pieces remind me a lot of the shavings in Baskin Robbins’ Chocolate Chip, and they bring more gentle crunch than actual chocolate flavor. The integration of flecks of chocolate rather than B&J’s style chunks or flakes is awesome as it allows the buttery cinnamon flavors to be the star of the show, and I’m never taken out of the creamy churro fantasy.

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This flavor is currently only available to be ordered through Coolhaus’ online shop, but when it makes its way into grocery stores early next year it will be a standout offering in the frozen section for those lucky enough to have it. Brown butter ice cream is very rare in more mainstream outlets and hopefully this one sparks a change, because the extra depth and richness is terrific.
Rating: 9/10

Found at: Coolhaus online shop.

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REVIEW: JC’s Scoops’ Salted Caramel Fudge Brownie

When I walk into a new scoop shop there are a couple of trigger words that really get my ice cream juices flowin’. Salted caramel, birthday cake, peanut butter, and brownies are among the top attention getters for me, and if you combine any of them into one flavor I’m guaranteed to need to taste it. Although they don’t have any proper shops, JC has once again lured me into their scoops with a tantalizing flavor that hits me right in my trigger spot. Salted Caramel Fudge Brownie combines a savory sweet caramel ice cream with a salted caramel swirl and fudge brownie squares.

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The most interesting aspect to the description of this ice cream is “savory sweet caramel”, and on my first bite in I know exactly what they’re talking about. When I hear “savory” I think about dinner, but what JC really meant here is “salty”, and it’s a damn fine salted caramel base. Maybe they didn’t want to be redundant in their description, but the salted caramel flavor is big and bold, with the base and swirl working together to create a deep savory salted profile that pops with buttery caramel notes and is downright delicious.

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I wish there was more distinction between the swirl and ice cream itself, as I’m not getting much gooey caramel satisfaction, but the two combined are a real winner. Most caramel bases I’ve had from grocery-available brands are fine but pretty lackluster compared to their higher end competition, and this one delivers a much more gourmet depth that I really appreciate.

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The brownie squares are a plenty and tasty – with a rich chewy texture and great chocolate flavor that give sweet reprieve to the double salted aspect of the base and swirl. They taste really high quality, up there with Ben & Jerry’s own notoriously fire Greyston Bakery made brownies, and are a great compliment to everything going on. Some of the brownies have crumbled and integrated themselves into the base, giving a slightly gritty texture to the ice cream like a good cookies and cream. While the chunks are definitely the highlight, it’s nice having little pieces of chocolate in every bite.

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This flavor isn’t pushing any boundaries or playing with unique flavors the way some of JC’s Scoops’ other releases are, but it’s incredibly well executed and isn’t holding back with its wonderfully potent saltiness. For anyone, like myself, who loves that sweet and salty injection into their luscious creamy treats, you definitely don’t want to sleep on seemingly innocent looking paint pail pint.

Rating: 9/10
Found at: Sprouts ($4.99)