REVIEW: Milk Bar Chocolate Mint Cookies N’ Cream

Another Milk Bar ice cream…another mixed bag. I rambled on about my relationship with the growing gourmet grocery brand in my last review so I won’t go on about it here. In short, it’s complicated, and this latest creation featuring another flavor combination I adore isn’t making it any easier. Chocolate Mint Cookies N’ Cream is chocolate mint ice cream with chocolate cookie batter, cookies n’ cream crunch, and creamy mint swirl.

I love the idea behind this pint (14 ounces, I know, but for simplicity’s sake) but it has the same foundational issue as the last couple that I have scooped: dual flavored bases. Milk needs to get away from this because it rarely works, and it doesn’t work here. Chocolate mint should be one of the few dual flavored bases that can be pulled off with ease, like in Ben & Jerry’s excellent Minter Wonderland, but just like in Milk’s PB pint, this one tastes off. Specifically I’m tasting spearmint, which is not the type of mint I want to taste with chocolate. It’s cloyingly fragrant with a strange herbaceous quality, lacking any sharp minty punch to contrast the rich chocolate. Don’t get it twisted, the texture is still fantastic, I really love a lot of Milk Bar’s attention to high quality ingredients, but the flavor is bizarre and not at all what I wanted from this gorgeous green-streaked ice cream.

Speaking of gorgeous green, the most intriguing part of this container going into it was the creamy mint swirl, and I’m sad the mint flavor is very much the same spearmint-y adjacent oddity from the base, minus the chocolate. I find the spearmint a little less off-putting when on its own and paired with the sweet syrupy texture of condensed milk, but its creme de menthe hue still feels out of place against the sea of chocolate.

As always with Milk Bar, aside from the smooth silky texture of their bases, the real standout are the swirls. The chocolate cookie batter is the same as PB Cookie Crush and it’s just as phenomenal here as it was there. Bittersweet, gritty, and full of rich chocolate flavor, it’s the component that keeps me digging and digging for every last bit of its cake batter-y divinity. The moment Milk Bar put this swirl into a more straight ahead and determined base with a complimentary mix-in is the day it changes the grocery ice cream game — it’s so good. The cookies n’ cream crunch is what you’d expect, essentially pieces of Oreo cookies dispersed throughout with a softened texture and slight crunch; nothing special or new but essential for the concept.

As I finish the container the spearmint fades more to the back of the profile, partially from the flavor fatigue of the base and partially from the mint swirl being absent in the last 1/3 of the pint. There is an abundance of potential with this ice cream but its flaws make it one I’m not likely to ever revisit, despite some really high moments of brilliant execution in the base texture and cookie batter swirl. Maybe whatever mint extract this is is like cilantro and my tongue is cursed, so your mileage may vary, but as it stands, I would approach this wintery profile with caution.

Rating: 6/10

Found at: Whole Foods ($6.99)


REVIEW: Humphry Slocombe’s Yuzu Cream (Whole Foods Exclusive)

Building on the success of last spring’s Hong Kong Milk Tea and autumn’s Golden Milk & Gingerbread, Humphry Slocombe are back in the collaboration saddle with Chef Melissa King and Whole Foods to deliver another exclusive pint of seasonal delight. Yuzu Cream utilizes the bumpy-skinned and oddly shaped Japanese Yuzu fruit for a new flavor to usher in the (hypothetical) sunniest time of the year. This new flavor drops in Northern California on June 6, simply described as “a refreshingly floral citrus, is dreamy with sweet rich cream”, and we’ve got an exclusive sneak peak today on the skillet.


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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.


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.


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.


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.


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)

REVIEW: Humphry Slocombe’s Golden Milk & Gingerbread (Whole Foods Exclusive)

Turmeric tea, also known as golden milk, is a warm and soothing chai-like combination of coconut milk, turmeric, and ginger, commonly consumed for both its flavor and anti-inflammatory healing properties. Picking up right where they left off with Hong Kong Milk Tea, Humphry Slocombe have once again joined forces with Melissa King to put a cold and creamy twist on a heralded hot beverage. Golden Milk & Gingerbread combines a turmeric, ginger, and honey ice cream with house made chocolate chip gingerbread and candied ginger. It is available starting today, October 25, at Whole Foods stores in Northern California.


I like my ice cream to have a variety of textures and flavors, but sometimes a base is strong enough on its own to carry interest from first lick to the very end of a cone or pint. One of the most interesting naked ice cream’s I’ve had was from Humphry Slocombe earlier this year called A.C.T Golden Milk, and I’m happy to say this is that same fantastic base. It’s incredibly smooth and creamy, shining with the brilliant bright yellow color of turmeric, soft sweet honey notes, and wonderful spicy tingle of ginger. It’s sweet and spicy perfection with a hint of savoriness that works beautifully on its own but is elevated to a whole new level by the inclusion of gingerbread.



I was wary going into this pint that the gingerbread was chocolate-chip-studded and not just straight up, as sometimes chocolate can clash with intense spices, but there is nothing but pure harmony going on with these flavors. The chocolate adds a nice crunch and sweet creaminess to the ample pieces of delicious gingerbread. The bread is present all throughout in lovely toothy crumbles and bigger chewy chunks, playing off of the wonderfully complex base in luscious cohesion.


The icing on top of this lovely melty holiday-nostalgia-fueled gingerbread cake are the little pieces of chewy spicy candied ginger. They integrate themselves seamlessly with the chunks of gingerbread and pop out with even more sweet ginger-y pizazz. Their slightly softened texture and pronounced spiciness once again accentuate the intention behind the overall flavor and make for a very interesting and super crave-able scoop.


Golden Milk & Gingerbread is Humphry Slocombe at the top of their game. Fusing together chef-inspired flavors into a sweet treat that is just as decadent and dessert-y as it is smart and elaborate. It’s almost a shame that this flavor is a Whole Foods exclusive because it ought to be tasted by as many people as possible. At the very least it gives us all an excuse to go out of our way for some organic produce, and stash up on a couple pints of this spicy brilliance.

Rating: 9/10

Found at: Whole Foods Northern California

Quick Nutrition: 1/2 cup (98g) – 230 cal – 12g fat – 7g sat fat – 50mg cholesterol – 170mg sodium – 27g carbs – 23g sugar – 3g protein


REVIIEW: Phin & Phebes Vanilla Malt Cookie Dough

Phin & Phebes are a Brooklyn, NY based ice cream company founded in 2010 on the basis of churning out a small-batch product using all real non-GMO and fair trade sourced ingredients with no stabilizers or corn syrup.  I’ve been seeing their name floating around for awhile but never gave them too much notice until a couple of flavors popped up at a local store that sounded too good to pass up.  The first flavor I decided to dig into is Vanilla Malt Cookie Dough, which simply enough combines a vanilla malt cream with chocolate chip cookie dough.

Immediately the base hits me with a very intense sweetness, which normally I embrace in ice cream but for some reason is coming off as too sweet, almost cloying.  The texture starts pretty creamy but finishes really thin and off-putting, like odd tasting cereal milk, and I gotta say I really don’t enjoy it.  What I do enjoy, though, is the intense malty flavor, which has just the right amount of funkiness to distinguish it from a traditional vanilla or sweet cream.  Unfortunately the malted flavor isn’t intriguing enough to offset the aggressive sweetness and lackluster texture that dominates the overall profile.


The cookie dough chunks are of average good size and have the gritty chew you would expect from this kind of mix in, but again, they taste incredibly sweet and don’t help push the flavor in any kind of enjoyable direction.  While there is a nice brown sugar sheen coming from the dough I’m not getting any prominent butteriness or saltiness and the small chocolate chips are the only hint of complexity I’m getting out of this pint at all.

As an introduction to a new company I’ve been left extremely underwhelmed by Phin & Phebes and hope that this is an outlier miss flavor from a brand I was really looking forward to trying.  There is nothing about this ice cream that makes me want to eat more of it and the onslaught of sugar without any kind of redemption becomes incredibly single-noted, and quite frankly, boring.
Rating: 4/10
Found at: Grocery Outlet ($2.99)


REVIEW: Humphry Slocombe Hong Kong Milk Tea (Northern CA Whole Foods Exclusive)

On May 5 Humphry Slocombe will launch a Whole Foods exclusive flavor that can only be purchased in person at Northern California stores.  While on the surface this might not seem like that big of a deal, it’s important to remember that exclusive releases are generally reserved for brands like Ben & Jerry’s at stores like Walmart and Target; and this merging of a smaller craft ice cream brand with Whole Foods is a significant leap for the gourmet company.  The flavor, Hong Kong Milk Tea, is inspired by the sweet caffeinated beverage that keeps Hong Kong (and the bay area) hustling.  The ice cream is a fusion of Numi organic tea, sweetened condensed milk, and almond cookies, and arrives as the creamy brain-child of Slocombe’s Jake Godby and Whole Foods Market Chef Ambassador Melissa King.  The awesome folks at Humphry Slocombe sent over a pint so I could get an advance tasting of their latest creation and I’m eager to scoop into it.

When I think of milk tea I think of boba tea, and imagine a syrupy sweet beverage with chewy tapioca balls and silly colored wide straws.  I know that that type drink is much newer and less traditional than the Hong Kong variety, but I have more experience with it, and luckily this ice cream is almost nothing like that.  The sweetness is incredibly subdued, with a wonderful melty mouthfeel and smooth malty black tea finish that is genuine and refined.  The flavor of the Numi tea coats my tongue with the dairy and tastes like a perfectly steeped cup of tea with a generous helping of sweetened condensed milk.


The most impressive aspect of this great tea base is the lingering aftertaste, which even after a minute or more of not eating has left a nice sharp tea flavor that is pleasant and not bitter in the least.  This is a perfect frozen rendition of a drink usually served warm and preserves all the tannin-y nuances of tea balanced out by repeated licking sweetness.

The almond cookies in place of tapioca balls (in my boba-mind) also elevate this to a more “adult” version of the milky beverage, adding small bursts of almond-y chew that add just a touch more sweetness but not too much additional flavor.  The cookies remind me more of softened, soggy cereal in milk than they do snappy cookies, and I wish the pieces were bigger and/or caramelized in the way that HS does in their fantastic flagship flavor Secret Breakfast.  As the lone mix in I don’t get a ton of crunch or almond taste from the cookies, which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity considering how simple and delicate the base is.  The idea makes sense, having an almond cookie with a cup of milk tea, there just needs to be something else done to make it all really click.


Full disclosure: I’m not the biggest fan of tea-based ice cream, or coffee for that matter.  I like drinking my coffee and tea straight and my ice cream to be caramel-y and chocolate-y and salty sweet peanut butter pretzel-y intense.  That being said, if you like tea in your ice cream bases (like my girlfriend), you will undoubtedly love this pint.  It has a tremendous balance of flavor that captures the simple magic of Hong Kong milk tea.

Rating: 7.5/10

If you’re in the bay area and want to sample Hong Kong Milk Tea, they will be giving away free scoops at a public preview on April 29 from 12 PM to 3 PM at Whole Foods Market Oakland, where there will also be $1 off pint coupons, Numi tea samples, a lion dancer, and tons of happy ice cream enthusiasts.