REVIEW: Caffe Panna Funfetti Crash

Funfetti Crash was a limited release New York only pint at Caffe Panna in June that I was able to add onto my Goldbelly order via an ancient technology known as a the telephone. Yes, that is the secret to plussing up your CP order — go old school — it’s worth it. This gorgeous pint is golden Oreo infused ice cream with funfetti cookie crumble and white chocolate curls…and honestly, all it’s missing is the party hat and streamers.

I’m not sure why this ice cream is so unbelievably addictive but I find it nearly impossible to stop digging. The base has so much golden Oreo vanilla flavor and cookie crumble integrated into it it practically has the texture of cake batter — gritty and dense yet still smooth and very creamy. The ice cream clings to the spoon like poetry with the occasional strong popping crunchy eruption of nonpareil sprinkles. I love a good textural contrast and this one happens so organically I’m transfixed. 

As fantastic as the base-meets-crumble combo is, the component that really sets this experience off are the white chocolate curls. I was greeted with a bunch at the very beginning and expected the curls to calm down, but they never do, and I find layer after layer of simple yet exquisite white chocolate all the way to the bottom of the pint. The curls are sweet and creamy with a gentle crunch that compliments the cookie-forward ice cream beautifully, and it’s some of my favorite white chocolate I’ve ever had paired with ice cream. 

Funfetti Crash isn’t doing anything fancy and it doesn’t need to, it’s elegant in its simplicity and executed with perfection. For those who love birthday cake flavored desserts, white chocolate, or weirdos who think the golden Oreo is superior to the original, this is an absolute must scoop whenever it shows up again at Caffe Panna’s beloved Manhattan storefront (or in one of their coveted packs that ship via Goldbelly). 

Rating: 10/10

Found at: Caffe Panna ($20)

REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s Birthday Cake & Blackberries

It should be pretty evident by now that ice cream is one of my absolute favorite foods, and when it comes to desserts, cake isn’t too far behind it. One of the best things about cake is that it instantly screams “celebration”, and whether it’s celebrating another year in the books or capping off a fantastic meal out, if there’s cake in my mouth, I’m feelin’ like a party. I also love it when the two worlds collide, and any number of birthday cake, funfetti, frosting, or otherwise cake-oriented ice cream flavors tend to be go-tos for me in scoop shops, and usually I swoon over the sickeningly sugary, indulgent, sweet-tooth collaboration. For this month’s homage to the berry bounty of the summer, Salt & Straw are attempting to swoon me into submission with Birthday Cake & Blackberries – which combines a vanilla frosting ice cream with blackberry jam swirl and chunks of three-vanilla cake.

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The ice cream has a light frosting flavor that is surprisingly and pleasantly not too sweet. The base channels the frosted outside of Mothers Circus Animal cookies and cereal milk, with gentle vanilla notes that are rounded out and ultimately taken over by a general sweetness – but not a cloying one. The sprinkles add a nice pop of color but don’t add anything by way of texture, as it seems that they’ve been chopped up even smaller than their usual mini-rainbow selves.

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The blackberry swirl is less prominent than I’m used to from Salt & Straw, and definitely much thinner. The consistency of the swirl reminds me more of a sauce than jam, with no chunks of fruit or heaviness to be found. The flavor is also a bit thin, not particularly sweet or carrying any of the tart notes I usually associate with blackberries. When my spoon gets some of the swirl it does add a little more sweetness, but without any acidity to balance it out it doesn’t really add much to the experience. I wish it had the brevity of the jams found in Roasted Strawberry Tres Leches or even this month’s Fresh Cheese and Strawberries, which would bring some more depth to an otherwise pretty “vanilla” scoop.

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Where this flavor really makes me scratch my head is the cake pieces. The pieces themselves are fun-looking – classic funfetti style cake decked out with sprinkles in a vanilla sponge – but they’re very small, and as a result, crunchy. Although they pop with a nice vanilla and slightly buttery flavor, they have none of the squishy bounce or chew that I want from cake, and ultimately feel and taste much more like cookies. More than stand out as pieces or chunks they integrate themselves into the ice cream as a crumble, and do work well in tandem with the frosting flavor from the base.

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Between the more subdued milky frosting notes in the base and the small crunchy cookies, this pint feels more like a nice afternoon at grandma’s house than a celebratory birthday party. Had the name of the flavor been “Sprinkle Cookies and Blackberries” I might have been more prepared for what I encountered, but as it stands this pint left me with little reason to don my pointed party hat. For those seeking a cakey scoop this summer I would recommend Baskin Robbins’ America’s Birthday Cake over this one in an instant, and you won’t have to pay to ship it.

Rating: 7/10
Found at: Salt & Straw ($11.00)

REVIEW: Entenmann’s Little Bites Party Cakes

Who doesn’t love a good birthday party?  Better yet who doesn’t love a good birthday cake?  Even BETTER yet who doesn’t love BABIES?  If you aren’t evil and agree with all of those statements, then there may be a new junk food staple you can add to your forbidden cabinet of goodies.  Welcome to your next sweet tooth get together, the baby-sized Entenmann’s Little Bites Party Cakes.  The fun-sized cakes come in pouches of four poppable muffin-shaped cakes and can be found in the fiesta aisle near you.

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The cakes themselves are small and moist with an oily sheen that should be familiar to anyone who has ever had any snack cake made by Entenmann’s, Hostess, or Little Debbie.  The “party cake” tag is essentially Funfetti, or, a lightly flavored vanilla cake decked out with sprinkles and extra sweetness.  The aroma is pure white cake, with that store bought or boxed mix swagger that harkens back to all of my birthday parties from ages three through twelve.  They taste just like an unfrosted cupcake, or non-fruity muffin, with a buttery undertone that balances out the sugar for a pretty pleasant experience.

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Texturally there’s not much going on here.  The sprinkles have fully dissolved in the baking process and don’t add any crunch or grit for an entirely smooth single noted experience.  They’re soft and moist with a gentle chew that would make it easy to pop about fifteen of them without blinking an eye.

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I can’t help but feel that although they are good, the absence of frosting or any type of crunch leaves some room for improvement.  This isn’t the worst of things, seeing as frosting, peanut butter, Nutella, and any other type of spread you may have lying around could easily create four different mini cupcakes with a nice, vanilla cake base.  There is absolutely nothing offensive about these cakes, nor is there anything particularly mind blowing.  They’re a tasty, well executed version of one of the most beloved and whimsical types of cake you can find at roller rinks, bowling alley’s, and mini golf courses on a ten year old’s big day all across our fine country.

Rating: 7.5/10