REVIEW: Enlightened’s Spring Flavors (Movie Night, S’mores, French Toast)

You would never know by lurking this site, but I actually really like Enlightened ice cream. I’ve been a fan of theirs for nearly two years but never wrote about them because I had this grand scheme of ranking all of their flavors and being a super completest about it. Problem is, their distribution in the bay area has been pretty spotty, and only a handful of flavors are available, especially since it seems like they’ve released about 43 varieties in the last year. All that hooplah aside, I would be pretty short sited to overlook one of the biggest trends in the frozen grocery game during National Ice Cream Month, so it’s time to finally break my silence. In March Enlightened made their strongest push yet, rolling out five new pints backed with a strong PR presence and inventive flavors that set the internet off with hype. While I still haven’t been able to track all of them down, and the ones I did get I had to leave San Francisco for, I’m stoked to introduce the skillet to three new high protein low fat low sugar alternatives to get your creamy fix. Movie Night, French Toast, and S’mores.

Movie Night

Popcorn ice cream with chocolate bits and a caramel swirl.

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REVIEW: Talenti “Crafted with Less Sugar” Vanilla Cinnamon and Mint Cookie

It was bound to happen at some time. After the huge craze of “diet” ice cream’s expanded from Halo Top and Enlightend to Breyer’s, Three Twins, and even Ben & Jerry’s, Talenti have joined the party with their own spin on reduced calorie gelato. Rather than boosting up protein content like Halo or whipping some extra air during churning like Dreyer’s and B&J, Talenti have opted to go the reduced sugar route by way of soluble corn fiber, sugar alcohol, and monk fruit extract. Sounds kind of like Talenti are taking a page from Quest’s book, and that makes me a little nervous. The naturally lower fat gelato gets an even greater fat reduction and significant caloric decrease with this new formula, but how will the texture and flavor fare?

Vanilla Cinnamon:

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REVIEW: Breyers Delights (Vanilla Bean, Mint Chip, Raspberry Fudge)

Ice cream is hot these days, probably hotter than it’s ever been. While old school super premium brands are flourishing and there seems to be more new scoop shops popping up every month than I ever thought imaginable, one of the hottest ice cream trends is infusing it with protein and dropping the sugar. After the slow rise and ultimate booming success of Halo Top, who as of July are the best selling grocery ice cream in America, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon – even big time boys like Breyers. Their latest release, Breyers Delights, have low sugar, low fat, and 20 grams of protein per pint. They launched with four flavors and I chose to try the two identical flavors that were my favorite from the first Halo line in 2015 – Vanilla Bean and Mint Chip.

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Opening up the Vanilla Bean it is immediately less visually appealing than all the other protein ice creams I’ve had. The top is icy and fully separated from the sides of the carton with an odd spiky texture.

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After giving it a good amount of time to temper, even longer than your average Halo Top or Enlightened, it scoops decently with a smooth and creamy consistency. Unfortunately the flavor is about as appealing to my tastebuds as the initial top-popping to my eyes and I’m pretty disappointed. The ice cream finishes with a really harsh, almost medicinal quality that I initially thought was the result of way too much vanilla extract, but looking at the ingredients it’s pretty obvious it’s the sweetener they used – stevia. The stevia creates an astringent, off-putting finish that makes this without a doubt one of the worst vanilla ice creams – protein, light, or otherwise – I’ve ever had.

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The base flavor is only mildly sweet, less sweet than Enlightened’s, and doesn’t have any of the great true vanilla bean flavor of Halo Top’s. Adding some strawberries and whipped cream to the equation helped alleviate a bit of the bad taste, but I don’t want to start my sundae with something I feel the urge to cover up. This is not good, and I don’t recommend it at all.

Rating: 4/10

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Opening up the mint carton is similarly un-cute but marginally better – with more notable smoothness and less weird spikes jumping out at me. I’ll give Breyers some credit for having much more significantly sized chocolate chips than their competitors, but that’s the end of the compliments for this flavor as well.

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The peppermint extract is far too aggressive, and begins the bite on an already unpleasant note, which then unfortunately finishes with the same off-putting stevia flavor as the vanilla. It’s harsh, astringent, and just generally not good. The sizable chocolate chips can’t save this pint from being far from sweet enough to pass as a dessert replacement, and whereas Halo Top’s mint chip finishes with a sweet cooling and creamy mint flavor, this feels like I took a swig of cheap mouthwash.

Rating: 5/10

Both of these flavors from Breyers are a big letdown, and I guess that’s right in line with the overall quality I’ve come to expect from Breyer’s products in general. What’s more perplexing about this whole situation, is that Halo Top is priced at $4.99 and each of these cost me $5.99. With more flavors, far better execution, and a cheaper price point, both Halo Top and Enlightened are a far superior choice if you’re looking for a macro-cheap ice cream fix.

Raspberry Fudge

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When I posted my original review Breyers reached out to me and said the pints didn’t look right and wanted to send me some coupons to give them another shot. Those coupons never showed up so I never gave them a second chance. I was so let down that why would I waste anymore of my hard earned money on their trash? Recently I got a great coupon from Safeway and through that coupon and a sale I got this newer flavor for $1.50. What’s the harm in that? I’m glad I gave it a shot because this one is much much better.

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The raspberry base is really smooth and creamy with a perfect texture for a light ice cream. The flavors leans a little towards artificial at times but mostly brings me to the right tart, acidic, and sweet places I want to go when scooping into a fruity ice cream. I’ve always loved the combination of raspberry with chocolate and this is no exception.

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While the light protein-infused base is surprisingly solid, where this pint really starts to sing is the fudge swirl. It’s thick and legitimately chocolaty with a slightly sticky Hershey’s syrup quality that doesn’t taste fake or “diet” at all. It works really well with the berry notes in the base but stands tall on its own as one of the better swirls I’ve had in a light ice cream. I’m glad I gave Breyers another shot, and might even take the plunge again if a good deal comes my way.

Rating: 8/10