REVIEW: Bad Walter’s 46

Bay Area I’ve gotta let you in on a little secret – there’s some cool underground ice cream shit happening in Oakland. Bad Walter’s Bootleg Ice Cream began as a quarantine hobby for owner Sydney in the spring of 2020, and has snowballed into churning out weekly limited pints since October. From what I’ve been able to sample, I’m impressed. Bad Walter’s makes super premium custard bases that are, wait for it…lactose free! I know, I’ve never had anything like it either.

Last week’s limited run flavor was “46”, inspired by today’s inauguration. It features a brown sugar ice cream with chocolate dipped Ruffles and a peanut butter swirl. Y’all know how I love my sweet and salty so I HAD to taste this. 

Truthfully, this was the most impressive and authentic brown sugar base I’ve ever had. It’s incredibly smooth with a decadent mouthfeel, but what really took me by surprise was the depth of the brown sugar flavor. Initially it reminded me of an epic brown sugar cereal milk, but the more it stacked the richer the flavor became. By the end it reminded me of the filling in a See’s Bordeaux truffle, which is one of my favorite chocolate’s of all time. Less-typical bases, like brown sugar, tend to fade away after the initial bites, but this one never let go.

Bad Walter’s peanut butter swirl is exactly how I like my peanut butter swirls — more salty than sweet with a slick fatty texture but thin enough to actually temper with the ice cream. Just as satisfying as sticking your spoon in the jar! My only issue with it is I wish there was more. The top superficial layer of the pint had the swirl’s best showing, and while the swirl never entirely vanished I would have loved a couple more epic spoonfuls to allow the saltiness to play off of the stunning sweet base.

Similarly, the chocolate dipped Ruffles were executed very well – nice and crunchy with a salty potato taste highlighted by just a touch of bittersweet chocolate. Once again, perfect execution, just lacking a bit on the actual quantities to make this pint something undeniably out of this world. I was reminded of this same mix-in being used in one of my favorite ice cream’s of all time, Salt & Straw’s Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake, and how if I got some chunks akin to the boulders found in those pints I would have been in sweet and salty heaven. 

Despite the slightly underwhelming density of the mix-ins, which is largely a preference thing, I really loved this ice cream, and I love the entrepreneur spirit of Sydney and her ice cream company named after her pesky pup. If you’re interested in grabbing a pint of what she comes up with next make sure to follow Bad Walter’s on Instagram and place your order on Sunday night for pickup the following weekend. And fair warning: it sells out quick!

Rating: 8/10 

Found at: Bad Walter’s ($10.00)

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Punch Line

The fourth and final pint from Ben & Jerry’s and Netflix snuck itself into the indulgent holiday season with the least indulgent profile of any in the collaboration; but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, I think it’s pretty refreshing. Punch Line combines a comedic duo of brown butter bourbon and almond ice creams with roasted almonds and chuckles of cherries.

I’ve always been skeptical of the effectiveness of dual bases, and fortunately here it works, since one does almost all of the heavy lifting. Almond is the most pronounced flavor, one of my favorite flavors that’s terribly underutilized in ice cream, and I really like this take on it. The brown butter bourbon is extremely mild, with virtually no booziness and just a hint of burnt buttery flavor, that again, sits in the background while the almond kingpin calls the shots. 

The almonds are nice and toothy with a pleasant mildly roasted flavor that pumps up the volume on the excellent floral and nutty taste in the base. They don’t bring a ton of flavor but their texture is crucial in keeping each bite interesting. The cherries are perfectly sweet and juicy with no iciness and virtually no tartness. They’re naturally sugary and work wonderfully in tandem with the almonds to bring two contrasting textures. I’m honestly surprised by how much I like this pint!

While Punch Line may not be the most inventive of the Netflix collabs, I actually enjoy it more than the bloated-and-confused-doing-way-too-much Boots on the Moooo’n and just as much as the also simple and excellently executed Chip Happens. Punch Line is like an alternate universe spumoni without the chocolate, and much like this whole line has been to 2020, it’s a surprisingly fun way to end the year.

Rating: 8/10

Found at: Safeway ($4.99)

REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s Dandelion Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies and Cream

Salt & Straw are a pretty amazing company. If you weren’t aware, every time they open in a new city that city gets a menu that includes some S&S classics as well as some city-specific exclusives that you can’t get anywhere else. When they expanded to San Francisco last year they made some amazing flavors, including Roasted Strawberry Tres Leches and Salted Honey Marshmallows & Walnuts (RIP), but sometimes even great new things need to be revised. To kick off National Ice Cream Month, Salt & Straw added a handful of new SF-only flavors to their menu, including the tantalizing-sounding vegan friendly Dandelion Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies and Cream – a dark chocolate ice cream made with coconut and hazelnut milk with stacciatella ribbons of Dandelion chocolate and chunks of homemade gluten free vegan oreos.

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REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s Sweet Corn & Waffle Cones

I could go on and on about how much I love Salt & Straw’s Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake. I’ve made it my mission this year to get everyone I possibly can to hear me out and try it. CCPCC is the fine craft of ice cream perfected to such a degree that I hope it comes back every March, or in my dreams, permanently. Another of this months voted back offerings, Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie, is no slouch either, but there’s a sneaky good flavor lingering beneath the glitz and glam that really deserves your attention too. Sweet Corn & Waffle Cones combines a sweet corn ice cream with chocolate covered waffle cones, freckles of salted brown butter, and ribbons of rich vanilla caramel.

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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: JC Scoops’ Cinnamon Chocolate Churro

In the United States we have doughnuts, and in Spain they have churros. The long fried sticks of dough covered in cinnamon and sugar are a delicious treat often served for breakfast with hot chocolate, coffee, and dulce de leche. The marriage of sparkly sweet dough and chocolate or caramel is a match made in heaven, and while I prefer mine with a nice black coffee, the choco-churro combo cannot be denied. Continuing their fascination with breakfasts’ sweet treats, JC’s Scoops have unleashed Cinnamon Chocolate Churro, which combines sweet brown sugar and cinnamon ice cream with ribbons of chocolate fudge and pieces of sugar-dusted churros.

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REVIEW: Coolhaus’ Farmer’s Market Strawberry Cheesecake

Cheesecake and ice cream have a lot in common. Decadent, creamy, high fat, versatile, celebratory, dairy-heavy, and downright delicious; most people can’t deny how stellar the two desserts are. That being said, I can’t say I would really want to eat the two at the same time, as combining them side by side on a plate might send me deep into dairy depths that my stomach may not be able to recover from. I am, however, a big fan of when the two worlds collide into a successful flavor of ice cream, which is unfortunately much easier said than done. With their latest batch of pints Coolhaus takes on the challenge with Farmer’s Market Strawberry Cheesecake, which combines mascarpone and cream cheese ice cream with a fresh strawberry swirl and graham cheesecake bites.

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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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