REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs’ Banana Peanut Butter Chip

There aren’t too many better ways to start a morning than a piece of peanut butter banana toast. Okay, actually, there are eggs benedict, chicken fried steak, huevos rancheros, fluffy ass pancakes…I’m getting out of hand. Let me rephrase. There aren’t many simple, smart, and deliciously better ways to start a morning than the wonderful combination of peanut butter and banana. The perfect balance of fats, carbs, and flavor, they combine for a super creamy sweet and salty AM treat that remains one of my go-tos whenever I’m feeling classic (and lazy). And what better way to elevate that combo than substitute the bread for ice cream? Oh yes, it sounds divine, and Haagen-Dazs’ new Decadent Collection delivers just that with Banana Peanut Butter Chip, which combines a sweet banana ice cream with bits of chocolate chips and peanut butter ribbons.

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REVIEW: Dreyer’s-Edy’s Triple Peanut Butter

“You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”.

A phrase that echoes through my mind every time I crush another jar of unassuming, innocent, beautiful peanut butter. That last, slightly too chunky, extra salty spoonful that lines the bottom of the glass or plastic is always so bittersweet, and if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s stock up on the things you can’t live without. Sometimes that means buying two jars of peanut butter at a time so you never run out, and sometimes it means seeking out products that only utilize the best flavors mother nature provides. Living up to this mantra, Dreyer’s are kicking off 2018 with a new ice cream that stacks goodness on top of goodness with a little extra goodness in Triple Peanut Butter, which combines peanut butter light ice cream with a peanut butter ribbon and mini chocolate peanut butter cups.

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REVIEW: Allie’s Peanut Butter Protein Balls

Allie’s Peanut Butter Protein balls are an up and coming company serving up gluten free, raw, peanut butter loaded balls for on-the-go noshing and nutrition. Although the product is brand new and the full website won’t launch until February, Allie and Co. wanted to give this peanut butter lover an advanced taste. I’m ranking the three different flavors against each other on a healthy snack scale.

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Allie’s Original Protein Energy Ball:

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A very nice combination of peanut butter, cranberries, sunflower, and flax seeds that really get the job done. There’s a nice smooth vanilla undertone from the use of protein powder that ties the more aggressive fatty PB and tart cranberry notes together wonderfully. The sunflower seeds stand out as a distinct flavor and texture and make the bites interesting for my teeth AND my tongue. A great clean pick me up with no weird aftertaste or weird additive ingredients that you might find in other supplement-based products.

Rating: 8/10

Nutrition (1.2 oz ball): 135 cal – 8g fat – 59mg sodium – 12g carb – 2g fiber – 5g sugar – 5g protein

Allie’s Apple Cinnamon Protein Balls:

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As a bonafide cinnaslut this is the ball that I was the most excited for and it undoubtedly let me down the most. I got no apple flavor, no cinnamon flavor, and the overall experience was very dry and bland. Looking on the company’s website it says there should be a fritter taste from being rolled in cinnamon and I don’t think my balls got that step. They still have a nutty taste to them but have no discernible apple or other flavors that make me want to eat them again.

Rating: 6/10

Nutrition (1.2 oz ball): 140 cal – 8g fat – 7mg sodium – 13g carb – 2g fiber – 4g sugar – 5g protein

Allie’s Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter Protein Ball:

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The can’t-miss combination of peanut butter and chocolate gets an added boost from flaky coconut and guess what? It doesn’t miss! This one has all the rich decadent fatty mouthfeel of peanut butter rolled into a ball with little glimmers of crunchy chocolate, oats, and hemp protein. The peanut butter is definitely the star of the show, and as a dude who loves to take a spoon straight to the source I love the flavor. Compared to the others this ball is simply more of everything. More salty, more sweet, more delicious, and despite its smaller size, more calories and fat. It’s as close as you’re gonna get to having true, intense, peanut butter taste with you wherever you go sans the spoon, and will absolutely squash a fatty or even sweet craving in a pinch.

Rating: 9/10

Nutrition (.9 oz ball): 154 cal – 10g fat – 71mg sodium – 13g carb – 3g fiber – 4g sugar – 5g protein

Overall I’m pretty happy with the flavors presented by Allie’s Protein Peanut Butter Balls, and they’re executed very well, but I’m not sure that I would personally order them. I love the idea behind the brand but things like this seem like they could be made at home pretty easily with some nut butter, powder, oats, and a little bit of time. For the cost of $20 shipped for a pack of 12, they’re either a great value for someone with little culinary skills and little time, or a bit of a stretch for someone that likes to make their own snacks. I would, however, absolutely buy a couple of these in a four pack if I saw them at a local store, and hopefully Allie can work her way into the hearts of a place like Whole Foods to give these balls the home they deserve.

REVIEW: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios

If I could eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups every day for breakfast and not feel like a pile of garbage, I probably would. My fantasy was somewhat fulfilled as a youngster when I was beckoned to the TV as another young white boy hollered at me “It’s Reese’s…for breakfast!” My head turned and my life changed, when Reese’s Puffs cereal was gifted to the world in the mid-90’s. From that moment on the Puffs became one of my favorite cereals, and up there with Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Count Chocula, it has maintained a stronghold on my nostalgia-fueled favorites as I’ve gotten older. Whether tugging at our Reese’s Puffs memories or just realizing PB and chocolate is one of the greatest flavor combo’s ever, Cheerios came strong this autumn with a new member of their preferment lineup – Chocolate Peanut Butter.

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The cereal has a great, sweet peanut butter-y aroma mixed with the whole oat goodness you know and love from Cheerios. Visually they’re very appealing with an equal amount of tan PB and brown chocolate O’s mingling together to create a wholesome version of one of the greatest duos of all time.

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What’s most impressive about eating these Cheerios is the authentic peanut butter slick that coats the pieces of cereal. Peanut butter is the third ingredient on the label, and I was pleasantly surprised that the PB presence pushes beyond flavor and translates to a wonderful fatty texture as well. The pieces taste like peanut butter and chocolate but also very distinctly Cheerios, and much like Honey Nut and other sweetened varieties, the sugar content isn’t so much that it takes away from the base flavor of the notoriously heart healthy breakfast option.

In milk the peanut butter mouthfeel is much less apparent, but the smoothness is still in tact with the natural texture of the milk. Once fully submerged in the cold creaminess the lower sugar content as compared to Reese’s Puffs is more obvious, and it eats a lot more like an “adult cereal” than a cartoon kiddy classic. There’s a nice, genuine bitter cocoa flavor that pops up over the PB and compliments the fatty nutty qualities really well. The chocolate and peanut butter are balanced with neither really taking the other one over, and every bite has a solid distribution of both flavors.

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Are Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios better than Reese’s Puffs? Nah. Nothing can top those sweet crunchy balls of goodness; but this is a great addition to Cheerios’ strong lineup of cereals that still feels more responsible than eating candy for breakfast. And the milk that’s leftover after a hearty bowl? Pure bliss.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: Safeway ($4.99)

REVIEW: Phin & Phebes Peanutty Pretzel

Life is all about second chances. After a very lackluster experience with Phin & Phebes’ Vanilla Malt Cookie Dough, I thought I would give them another shot with a flavor profile I love – sweet, salty, and nutty. Simple enough, Peanutty Pretzel combines peanut butter ice cream with chocolate covered pretzels. How could I lose?

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Going in for a scoop the aroma is solid with a great peanut aura that has my hopes up. Getting a taste the peanut flavor is decently pronounced and tasty with a good balance of sweetness and a hint of salt but the texture is just…off. It’s grainy and almost sandy in a way that I haven’t experienced with ice cream before. It’s not the kind of icy freezer burn or re-freeze texture you get from an unfortunate freezer accident but feels more like the base was simply made improperly or with a powdered peanut butter instead of the real thing (which it wasn’t, I checked the ingredients). When the ice cream softens, and even approaches melting, the problem doesn’t get better, but actually worse, and feels like tiny grains of sand inside the base – not appealing.

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The chocolate covered pretzels are also a miss. The first two pieces I got were completely stale and soft with another undesirable texture that just adds to the overall off-ness of this flavor. Since I’m not a quitter I kept digging and managed to get a couple good pretzels that were properly preserved and popped with a salty crunch that was really tasty. Unfortunately that success was short lived as my next two pieces were once again soft, stale, and straight up not good, which is a big bummer because the bites with the good pretzels actually offset the weird texture momentarily and achieved a pretty solid bite.

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While this pint had moments of quality spoons, my overall impression is once again very low of this up-and-coming and now distributed by Walmart company. While the first flavor I had from them suffered in balancing flavors and depth, this one had straight up miscues in quality that lead to an unenjoyable experience that left me not wanting to dig in for more. I’m not going to completely write P&P off of my list for tasting in the future but I’ll need to do some research on what their strongest flavor is and see if I can find any redemption.

Rating: 5/10
Found at: Grocery Outlet ($2.99)

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REVIEW: Butterfinger Limited Edition Smokin’ Hot Peanut Butter Cups

The candy world has a new obsession, and it’s one I can get behind – spice. Generally reserved for savory items, the addition of spiciness to usually sweet leaning products has advanced from small gourmet stores to mainstream brands like Jolly Rancher, Nerds, and now, Butterfinger. Mixing fruity flavors with spice is very common in countries like Mexico, where sweet and spicy is the preferred profile over sweet and sour, and with that creeping its way into American culture, so is mixing spice with even less conventional flavors – like peanut butter. Butterfinger’s limited edition Smokin’ Hot Peanut Butter Cups take the established combination of PB and chocolate and crank it up a notch with some heat.

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Biting into the cup I get the great creamy texture with a little bit of crunch that I expect from Butterfinger Cups and immediately there’s a hint of smoky flavor creeping after the chocolate sweetness. It doesn’t take long for the smokiness to transform into a little spicy dance that tickles my tongue like perfectly executed cayenne pepper. What I mean by perfectly executed is cayenne is one of those ingredients that adds a fantastic kick without too much flavor, but when you go too heavy handed with it whatever you’re cooking can get out of control really fast, and this has a spot on amount of spice. The heat creeps up after the creaminess of the peanut butter has died down and last about 10-15 seconds before fading away without any serious lingering effect.

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The addition of the heat to the mix reduces the overall sweetness of the cups and puts more emphasis on the rich creaminess of the peanut butter. While the flavor is still far from savory, it adds another layer of complexity to the sweet, salty, and fatty mix that PB cups always bring to the table.

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While these cups are very well executed, I’m glad that they’re a limited edition because they come off as more of a novelty treat than something I would want to seek out and buy again. As is the case with most Reese’s products, it’s hard to improve on the original, and as a fan of regular Butterfinger PB cups I don’t think the addition of spice makes the cup any better. In fact, because it takes away a little bit of the sweetness from the chocolate, it might actually be worse, but it’s still a fun candy that I would recommend to anyone who likes a little kick with their fix.

Rating: 7.5/10
Found at: 7-11 ($1.99)

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REVIEW: Little G’s Fluffer Cookie

A fluffernutter sandwich combines two of the world’s best lip-smacking creamy stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth ingredients that you can dig up in your grandma’s pantry – peanut butter and marshmallow fluff.  While I was always more of a traditional peanut butter and jelly kind of kid growing up and am now very much in the peanut butter and banana camp, I will never shy away from peanut butter plus anything, and I mean that quite literally.  My girlfriend recently challenged me to try peanut butter with mustard, and I did it, and guess what?  I liked it!  For the limited spring fling run of pints Little G put their own spin on the fluffernutter universe, but luckily for us all, did not include mustard.  Fluffer Cookie combines peanut butter ice cream with a marshmallow swirl and chocolate sandwich cookies.

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I’m going to guess that the peanut butter ice cream itself is up to the usual Little G standards, but as is the case with some of their flavors, this one is so mix-in dense I can’t even really tell.  The peanut butter definitely takes a backseat, not only in texture but in flavor, to the insane amount of Oreo cookies smashed into the base.  What is really beautiful though, is the way the cookies have softened and taken on a dunked-in-milk kind of texture, that while it’s different than your usual melty creamy ice cream, it’s still insanely delicious and fun to eat.  Make no mistake, these aren’t just wafer cookies, these are entire Oreo’s, and the ample amount of creme filling is also present, fusing with the base and the softened wafers to create a decadent, almost cake-like experience that is delicious and downright intense.

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The slightest hint of peanut flavor peeks its head through the onslaught of aggressive sweetness and cocoa creme, but most people probably wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the PB versus vanilla or sweet cream.  Composition-wise this pint is very similar to the core lineups’ Chocolate Milk & Cookies, with a bigger emphasis on the creme flavor than the chocolate because of the base switch up.

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The marshmallow swirl is thick and also very intense, with a dense yet fluffy texture that is pretty much as good as it gets when it comes to an authentic and delicious marshmallow presence.  Once again Little G is up there with Salt & Straw for taking the swirl game to another level, and this one, while it tastes predominantly sweet, does have a touch of roasted flavor to it that gives it an added layer of complexity and aids in bringing out a hint more roasted peanut flavor as well.

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Through and through this pint tastes like eating an ice cream-ified version of an Oreo.  The fusion of the marshmallow swirl with the cookies’ creme emulates the iconic filling, and the plethora of cocoa wafers in every bite makes the Oreo vibes absolutely inescapable.  For my personal tastes, and to be true to the tradition of the fluffernutter tag, I want a bit more peanut butter, more salty contrast, and some relief from the intensity of the sugar, but this is one of those flavors that will leave you thinking about it when your bowl is empty, and becomes dangerously addictive.

Rating: 9/10
Found at: http://www.goldbely.com (use code seanpancake0 for $25 off of your first order!)

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REVIEW: The Peanut Principle’s “Going Green” Pistachio Butter

I’m a nut butter nut, and when it comes to creamy, fatty, crave able jars of spreadable protein I’m always down to try something new.  I’ve had many types of pulverized nuts in my days, including Trader Joes’ great Mixed Nut version, but never have I had or seen a pistachio butter…and the times, they are a changin’.  The Peanut Principle are a gourmet nut butter company from New York, making buttery goodness out of nearly every kind of nut from plain and flavored peanut to hazelnut, walnut, macadamia, pumpkin seed, and lots more.  I ordered a huge sampling of peanut butters last year and was overall very impressed, so when they announced pistachio I had to jump on the opportunity.  Going Green is a creamy pistachio butter that’s as basic as it gets, with the lone ingredient being organic dry roasted pistachios – no salt, no sugar, no BS.

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The taste of this butter is everything the look of the jar promised – pure, rich, thick, intense pistachio.  It’s a very unique-to-the-green-nut-flavor that is deep and roasty, slightly sweet, and cleanly fatty.  The texture is insanely thick but less lip-smackingly mouth-drying than peanut butter tends to be, which I think might be due to the lack of salt.  Despite the absence of saltiness there’s no lack of pop, as the nuts themselves pack a big wallop of flavor that needs little help to be incredibly robust and huge.

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On toast the flavor becomes a bit more subdued and blends in with the bread well.  Some of the richness mellows but the sweet flavor of the pistachio stays intact.  As good as that flavor is, I didn’t think the butter offered as much as a traditional peanut butter or salted butter so I tried it with cinnamon and sugar, which still was just okay, and then strawberries, which also were just alright.  I could see this being tasty spread on some pancakes, dolloped onto some vanilla ice cream, or used in conjunction with some pistachio pieces to make a killer stuffed french toast.

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Make no mistake, this is a premium product, and at $11.99 for an eight ounce jar it’s four times the cost of a regular peanut butter, even from a gourmet company like Peanut Principle, whose sixteen ounce jar of regular PB goes for $5.99.  It may be expensive, but it absolutely delivers on what it set out to do, and packs the punch of what feels like hundreds of pistachio’s into a small glass jar.  Pistachio’s aren’t one of my favorite nuts, but if you’re a fiend for the little green guys, this stuff will send your morning bread into hyperdrive, or be a perfect pick-me-up straight from the jar, without the hassle of shells.

Rating: 8/10
Found at: http://www.peanutprinciple.com ($11.99)

Quick Nutrition: 2 Tbsp. – 160 cals – 13g fat – 3mg sodium – 8g carbs – 2g fiber – 2g sugar – 6g protein

REVIEW: Little G’s That Peanut Butter Brownie Dough

If you love ice cream and you don’t know about Little G it’s time to learn about the internet-driven gourmet ice cream movement.  What Grace is doing out of her small commercial kitchen in Massachusetts is not only delicious but insanely fun.  Late last year she asked fans to submit flavor ideas for a run of seasonal pints to start 2017 and one of the winning suggestions was That Peanut Butter Brownie Dough, which is her own spin on the Ben & Jerry’s 2014 limited batch Peanut Butter Half Baked.  The flavor combines chocolate and peanut butter ice creams with brownies and peanut butter cookie dough chunks.  Are you awake yet?

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Wow.  Sometimes the apprentice surpasses the master and that skill set is on perfect display in this pint.  The peanut butter ice cream has a very genuine nuttiness to it that isn’t very sweet, but isn’t salty either.  The peanut flavor comes through in a soft yet rich way that has just enough character to stand up to the chocolate, which is velvety smooth and has cocoa notes somewhere between milk and dark – not quite bitter but not too heavily leaning on milky-ness.  It’s hard to get two separate ice cream bases to work harmoniously in one flavor and these two are a lovely brown and tan yin and yang.

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The mix in density is absolutely spot on.  While the ice creams have a chance to shine with their melty mouthfeel and subdued sweetness, the real star of this show is the fudgey as all hell scratch made brownies.  These are the best brownies I have ever had in an ice cream, and are firm enough to be solid chunks but have maintained all of their fresh-out-of-the-oven squishy chew that make brownies unique from cookies.  They are sweeter than either of the bases which elevates the flavor to a whole new level of eyes closed brilliance.  When I get a bite with chocolate ice cream and brownie together the taste transforms into a decadent richness that reminds me of chocolate cheesecake and is over the top with indulgent intensity.

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This is an entire chunk of flawless brownie

The only thing holding this pint back from being absolutely perfect is the peanut butter cookie dough.  While the dough is still really good, I wish it had a little bit more dough-y butteriness and rich peanut flavor to really stand out against the other three very strong components.  The chunks are big and succulent but missing a little something, I think a touch more salt, to really drive the experience into something transcendent.  Even though I wanted a bit more pop from the dough, I still found myself gleefully excited having a piece of unbaked cookie that took up nearly my entire spoon.  Eating Little G is a completely different experience of ice cream exploration and this was a fantastic journey.

Rating: 9.5/10
Found at: http://www.goldbely.com

Note: This flavor can’t be purchased anymore but on May 1 Little G will be announcing their next line of limited flavors and you never know what Grace may have whipped up this time.  If it’s your first order from Goldbely use code seanpancake0 to get $25 off!!

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REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs Peanut Butter Salted Fudge

Peanut butter and chocolate.  One of the greatest flavor combinations known to man and no stranger to the magical melty world of ice cream.  It’s that hard to top yin and yang of sweet and salty and creamy and fatty that ultimately just equates to yummy and delicious.  As many times as companies have put their own stamp on the classic team up, we’re seventeen years into the 21st century and STILL getting new takes.  Brand new for this year, Haagen-Dazs try another spin on the sweet treat all star with Peanut Butter Salted Fudge, which combines peanut butter ice cream with chocolate covered peanuts and a salted fudge swirl.

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The peanut butter ice cream is smooth and sweet with a notable salty shine that immediately reminds me of biting into the iconic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  Despite trying to emulate peanut butter, the base itself isn’t too heavy or dense and has a very nice light and creamy mouthfeel that is neither too soft or dense.

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The salted fudge ribbons help aid in the execution of the light yet decadent experience in that they start with a sweet cocoa flavor and finish with a strong saltiness that lingers with a little dance on my tongue.  The ribbon is mostly integrated throughout in thin sheets which gives most bites a much more chocolate peanut butter flavor than pure peanut butter, with neither flavor becoming too dominant over the other.  There are occasional larger chunks of the salted chocolate that deliver a quick burst of sweetness before melting away and beg me to keep on digging.

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As good as the other two components are, the real star of the show here is the chocolate covered peanuts.  I don’t think I’ve ever had chocolate covered peanuts in ice cream before and I’ll be damned if I don’t feel like I’ve been robbed of an incredible mix in for nearly 30 years of my life.  The peanuts have kept all the snap and crunch that makes them such an undeniable snack and work in perfect harmony with the ribbons and cream to emulate the frozen experience of eating the world’s best chocolate cup.  The flavor and texture immediately reminds me of Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar and all the elements combined taste exactly like Mr. Goodbar seduced a fine young Mrs. Reese’s and spawned the baby that is Peanut Butter Salted Fudge.

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This new release from Haagen-Dazs isn’t reinventing the wheel by any means but it delivers a fantastic take on chocolate peanut butter that is a welcome addition to a freezer aisle with many variations on the classic combo.

Rating: 8/10
Found at: Safeway