Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Say It Isn't Dough: Ben & Jerry's The Tonight Dough Limited Edition

It’s safe to say that women across America would agree that Jimmy Fallon is delicious. He’s smiley, handsome and not to mention funny. Ben & Jerry’s did right by naming a flavor after him. Every single ingredient listed in The Tonight Dough pulls you in. The pint includes caramel and chocolate ice cream with chocolate cookie swirls, gobs of chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter cookie dough. This whole thing sounded so promising, I was bursting with anticipation to get this ice cream in my possession.

Driving home last night, I was listening to talk radio, which I never do and the talk show host mentioned that with wind chill, yesterday was some type of record. Feeling terrified and grumpy over this at the same time, I thought to myself that this deserved some type of reward. It’s never too cold for ice cream, so I drove over to my local Ben & Jerry’s to pick up this limited edition pint. Since the opportunity presented itself, I also picked up a pint of the Boom Chocolatta ice cream that I’ve reviewed previously, but that is outside the scope of this review.

Not to complain, because I like most of what they’re using, but there sure is a high incident of repeating flavors in Ben & Jerry’s recently introduced flavors. Both the peanut butter cookie dough and the chocolate cookie swirls are highlights of their cookie core collection, so some of these flavors were interchangeable with other pints. The caramel ice cream here is also something I have been getting pretty familiar with, experiencing each new cookie core flavor in turn.

Having not loved the caramel ice cream, I was really happy to open the lid and see an abundance of chocolate. As much as I love the premium taste of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream, I equally enjoy their chocolate. For most ice creams, it’s about the mix-ins that make it so great, but with Ben & Jerry’s, it’s usually about the base flavors. The chocolate ice cream didn’t disappoint. It was moussey, yet rich; the premium fat content coating my tongue in an indulgent and delightful fashion. 

The chocolate cookie swirls were the secondary highlight of this pint. It’s exactly the same as the cookie core in Boom Chocolatta and it’s heavenly. The cookie bits are moist and buttery, but they are excellent. The chocolate taste to them is quite dark and they taste sinful. The caramel ice cream wasn’t so bad this time, particularly because it played only a very minor role in this pint.

So here’s the real shocker – the cookie dough pieces, both peanut butter and chocolate chip were the weak point in the execution of this flavor. Because I keep my car hotter than a nuclear power plant, the ice cream made it home on the melted side. Even with that, the cookie dough pieces were rock hard and too large to fit easily on the spoon. This meant that I wasn’t able to scrape them with the tip of my spoon and enjoy them slowly with bites of the surrounding ice cream. I wish the cookie dough was only this hard from temperature, but that can’t be as I mentioned. Also, since it’s a limited time flavor I know that the ingredients in this pint can’t be particularly old. Because of this, I had only one or two large mouthfuls of cookie dough, which nobody in their right mind would ever complain about, but still – with softer, smaller and more abundant bits of cookie dough, this pint could have rocked my world.

I guess I’ll have to stick to the real Jimmy Fallon…

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Chipless: Dannon Oikos Mint Chocolate Chip Greek Frozen Yogurt

There are few things I hate more than telling myself, “No.” I want what I want, when I want it and that’s been universally applicable through my entire life. Since the majority of my life includes dessert, I look to avoid having to use my non-existent portion control in certain regards. One block of cheese, one bag of Baked Lays, one is the serving size. With the right show on, I could sit down on the couch and eat an entire box of cereal without realizing I’m consuming much of anything. One is the most convenient number.

On a normal day, I would pick quantity over quality without question. Not being a big fan of Greek Yogurt, I have tried some other flavors of Oikos Greek Frozen Yogurt and not minded them much. In terms of ice cream, mint chocolate chip is one of my favorites, so I was interested in trying Oikos’ rendition of this. To be clear, the best part of this ice cream is the calorie count. You can eat the entire pint for 600 calories. Usually a pint of Ben & Jerry’s has about 1,300 calories so doing the math you could have TWO pints of this frozen yogurt for one Ben & Jerry’s. Volume talks.

Obviously, taste is a huge factor for whether you would even want mass quantities of this stuff. I enjoyed this frozen yogurt, particularly for the light mint flavor. There was no yogurt flavor to be found. The most perplexing part of this pint was that although I could see the chocolate chips, they were entirely flavorless. Truly, there was no chocolate taste to be found.

Either way, I would eat this again on any given day when I am watching what I eat to some degree. I won’t pause to reflect on if “watching what I’m eating” should really include eating a pint of anything. Self-reflection leads towards telling yourself “No” and skipping dessert makes me grumpy. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Life is Sweet: Trader Joe's Sweet Sriracha Bacon Jerky

I’m 27 years old and all too familiar with the phrase “too good to be true.” Hearing that Trader Joe’s would be carrying Sweet Sriracha Bacon Jerky, I felt set up for disappointment. There was NOTHING to not like about the description. Hot sauce, sweetness, BACON. This snack sounded like something of my wildest dreams. Finally, the answer to my forever hungry prayers.

You can only imagine how delighted I was to find myself with this package in my possession. It seemed that white was an interesting packaging choice. Through the plastic, you could see the hot and sweet sauce that would be coating both the bacon and my mouth in a matter of minutes. I believe my fingers fumbled to get the packaging open out of sheer excitement. For people who care, there are no added nitrates to this jerky, but there’s no way anybody eating this cares.

There have been few times in my life where words have failed me; when no word in my English vocabulary would do justice to what I am trying to describe. I am happy to report that this is one of those moments. Take whatever I say next and glamorize it beyond what I am saying. In your mind, make it more delicious, more consuming and more urgent than whatever you take from reading this.

Right of the bat, I felt the hot heat of the sriracha on my tongue. I can’t remember the last time I described a pre-packaged good as nearly too hot and for me the smoldering heat was a great thing. While my tongue felt the effects of the heat, I was at the same time pleasantly hit with the honey like flavor coating the bacon. It truly was sweet heat as promised. If you don’t like to keep it spicy, then this jerky probably isn’t for you.

The balance of fat to crunch was perfect in this jerky. The sweet coating made the leaner pieces of the bacon quite crunchy. Think about it – in one bite it was sweet, hot and fatty. This was last meal good and I wasn’t the only one to think this. Based on the particularly high fat content, I tried to put this away after trying it for the remainder of the day. The packaging did say to eat it within three days of opening. Perhaps I made it three hours before finishing. Either way, I will buy this again any chance I get.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Not So Spectacular Ben & Jerry's Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream

Predicting the future is something I have absolutely no knack for. Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Core Ice Creams have made it perfectly clear that my future as a fortune teller will likely never come to fruition and very well I guess. When I bought the three newly released flavors, I orchestrated the reviews in the order of what I expected to like the least and I attempted to save the best for last. There are probably dozens of men out there waiting to hear me say this for some reason or another, “I was wrong.”

The final review of this trifecta is the Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream, described by Ben & Jerry as Dark Caramel & Vanilla Ice Creams with Speculoos Cookies & a Speculoos Cookie Butter Core. Trendy as Cookie Butter may have now become, I don’t care. I’m not some snack food hipster who goes against the grain. Do you know why the masses are going insane for it? - Because it’s that good. I’d rather be sated than cool. Even reading the description of this one, I knew before trying that it was all about the core for me. I was pining for this pint for weeks as I made my way through the other two flavors first.

Opening the lid, you can see all of the ingredients from the get go. I like that Ben & Jerry’s gives you immediate access to the core, so you can spoon a little to accompany each bite of ice cream, if you so choose. Vanilla isn’t my go to flavor, but nobody does a premium vanilla like Ben & Jerry’s and I found it to be superior to the caramel flavor. The caramel flavor was a bit intense for me here and I thought it was too similar to the cookie core itself.

Getting on to the good stuff, I was excited that there were cookie pieces in the pint but to be honest they were frozen, crumbly and very dry. They tasted similar to an airy gingerbread and again, no real diversity from the core. At the risk of repeating myself to highlight the one pleasurable thing about this ice cream, the core was the best part and if you have ever had Speculoos Cookie Butter, then you understand exactly what it was. Speculoos cookie butter is sweet, creamy with a bit of grain texture to it and reminiscent of ground up gingerbread cookies. This pint overwhelmed me with singular flavors. Truly, the flavor reminded me of an elderly woman who normally eats tapioca pudding, but was feeling a little wild tonight and decided to go with this ice cream instead.

If you were considering trying the cookie core ice creams, I would first recommend the Boom Chocolatta, then this pint and lastly the peanut butter core. I absolutely love what Ben & Jerry’s tried to do here, but I think something went awry in the execution. Perhaps they need to be a little bit more in touch with those of us who are committed to mass consumption.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Do Not Buy: Nature Valley Soft Baked Oatmeal Peanut Butter Squares

There’s something bad ass about being barefoot at work and trading a pack of beef jerky for a snack bar belonging to someone else. I’ll do nearly anything to not commit to buying an entire box of something just to try one. Perhaps it feels something like a Snack Food Black Market. Surely trading in dried beef for a breakfast bar made from 100% natural whole grain oats is a nutritional upgrade, but who’s keeping track?

Nature Valley Soft Baked Oatmeal Squares look like a cookie on the box. Normally I don’t entertain oatmeal cookies because frankly they don’t entertain me. I associate them with dry lifeless little things. I don’t do raisins, so there are few versions that really get my attention, but here we are with the addition of peanut butter. While the next picture is a bit blurry, hopefully you can tell how small this oatmeal bar is. For 160 calories, it’s the same size as the most recently reviewed Fiber One brownie. I’m no expert in volumetrics, but wouldn’t I rather have two brownies than one of these things? I guess that depends to some degree on the taste.

I wish that I had something better to report about than the dryness of these bars. They had full sized hearty oats which really created a rough texture. Maybe this is what was meant by “whole grains”, because boy was I chewing. The taste of the peanut butter drizzle was both creamy and good, albiet a little dry on it’s own. As I ate, the topping flaked off and got to be a bit messy. The verdict? Stick with the dehydrated beef.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: Nestle Coffee Crisp

Siblings are great for a lot of things – scapegoats, alibis, prank call recipients. I have one, and she’s a real gem. Nothing says “thinking of you” to me quite like the right piece of candy and after our 27 year relationship, this girl knows me like a book. Having been in Canada to ring in the New Year, my Sissy and Brother in Law brought me back the equivalent of chocolate gold. When they presented me with Nestle’s Coffee Crisp, I knew it was slated to be a good year.

I won’t play coy and pretend that this was my first time. This candy bar is amazing and I am proud to have had it before. It had been my earlier impression that I couldn’t get this particular candy bar in the United States, but after being reminded by last night’s taste exactly how amazing this candy bar is, I am thrilled to announce that these are available for purchase via for a pretty penny. It is so totally noted.

Let’s get down to it. This candy is the perfect size. It feels dense and substantial and it is not small in hand. Nowhere on the packaging does it say, “King Size” so there is limited guilt associated with this. There’s no indication that I should be sharing this and that’s great because I absolutely won’t be. The candy is described as alternating layers of vanilla wafer and a foamed coffee-flavored soft candy, covered with a milk chocolate outer layer. I’m sitting here glowing just remembering eating this.

Opening the wrapper, the first thing I noticed was the dreamy coffee smell wafting up to my nostrils. As a coffee lover, I was immediately drawn in. The next thing I noticed was the specific smell of the Nestle chocolate, mind you I haven’t even lifted the candy bar up anywhere near my face. The chocolate layer on the outside was on the thin side, but it didn’t crumble much as I took each bite. I’m not the neatest eater, so I for one can truly appreciate the sturdiness of this candy coating.

The most important part of this candy bar is the wafer layers intermingled with the coffee flavored soft candy. This is what makes the candy bar what it is. The chocolate, the wafers and the coffee flavor are all lighter in taste than they are in scent. Together, it creates a harmonious multi-flavored candy experience which is not to be missed. As the photo reveals, there are many layers to each bite. As with the chocolate, through each nibble the wafers didn’t crumble or become messy.

The wrapper says this has been Canada’s candy for the past 75 years and over three quarters of a decade, they most certainly got it right. If you’re up in Canada and want to see what all of my complimentary raving is aboot, eat a Coffee Crisp!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: Fiber One Mint Fudge Brownies

I love it when junk food lies to me. It’s a guilty pleasure being led down a less than truthful path, falling for the masquerade of junk food disguised as a healthy snack. Extra grams of fiber you say? Doctor Oz says we all need more fiber, right? Since I don’t touch The Fruit, maybe these Fiber One Brownies can help. The only way to know is to try and if trying involves getting mint chocolate chip into my mouth, then it’s time to saddle up.

Based solely on convenience, I have in the past tried the majority of Fiber One’s offerings. Sure, there are nearly one hundred ingredients in each one, but my life is on the go and a fiber filled junk bar seems more justifiable than a regular packaged snack bar. But brownies? Isn’t this more obviously a dessert than a snack? Too much thinking and my belly starts to get hungry.

As we approach the month of the Shamrock Shake, I am all too happy to participate in mint chocolate flavored anything. Walking down the grocery isle, seeing a six pack of 90 calorie brownies, I wasn’t overwhelmed by my fear of commitment. The first thing I noticed picking up the box was that it felt like there was absolutely nothing in it. From the earliest point, my expectations were managed.

Looking at the photo, you can see this brownie is quite small. Be warned, the photo is still deceptive and objects are much smaller than they even appear here. Think about a slightly larger Ritz cracker. My biggest complaint about these brownies is the size. Size does matter, but it really is no major issue to unwrap two of these in one sitting and they are so enjoyable that it’s certainly worth doing just that.

If you can get past the unnatural green color and the suspect moistness of the brownie, and I sure can, then these rock. The morsels you see here are mint flavored and they are generously spread throughout. Not only do these taste good, but I really don’t feel guilty eating them because in my mind they are fulfilling some nutritional need that I otherwise wouldn’t accommodate. What they lack in by not being all natural, they make up for by being all delicious. Limited edition, get them while you can. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ben & Jerry’s Peanut BUTTah Cookie Core Ice Cream

Let’s just put it out there – peanut butter is my frenemy. I think about it, dream about it, and lose control over it. My days are brighter when I have some. We have had a love/hate relationship for as long as I can remember and I can’t foresee that changing anytime soon. Marketers don’t have to work too hard to get peanut butter lovers to try anything new in this arena. Lovers of this stuff see the ad of nearly anything containing peanut butter and think, “Oh, peanut butter covered lint? I’d probably like that.” It’s like crack. There’s nothing funny about having a peanut butter allergy, unless you have one and you’re looking at the rest of us who have to buy elastic waist banded pants because of this addiction.

My previous review explains about the cookie core pints and how three were purchased for review. Having been blown away by the first pint of Boom Chocolatta, my expectations were sky high for Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Buttah Cookie Core ice cream. The description of the ice cream is as follows: Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Crunchy Peanut Butter Sugar Bits, Peanut Butter Cookies & a Peanut Butter Cookie Core. I was surprised to see the edition of “sugar bits” but my mind and mouth were open so I dived right in.

Be forewarned, I am about to break a lot of hearts. I will come right out and say it; this ice cream was a total disappointment. Opening the pint, I licked the lid and thought, “Damn this peanut butter ice cream is rich, creamy and delicious,” and at first taste it really was. Seconds later I was confronted with said “sugar bits” and I was quickly overwhelmed. It was way too sweet and crunchy. “Oh no,” I thought, like a long fall from a high place.

The peanut butter cookies, which were spread generously throughout this pint had very little taste whatsoever. In addition to the bites of ice cream which contained no sugar bits, the other enjoyable part of this pint was the peanut butter core. Similar to the Boom Chocolatta, this core was not solid and was very doughy. The texture of the core was gritty and certainly reminded me of a sugary peanut buttery cookie. Perhaps if this pint contained only the peanut butter ice cream and the core, it would have been the type of pint I could get behind. For perspective, it took me two times to finish this pint and that really means it was more of a miss for me. Save your money on this one. Peanut butter lovers will just feel cheated eating this. It could have been a beautiful thing.

Monday, February 2, 2015

So The Best Thing Ever Happened: Ben & Jerry's Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core Ice Cream

If you have read my previous Ben & Jerry’s review, then you know how I feel about their ice cream. I love it. For God‘s sake, I moved to an inconveniently located town with a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop and the nearest Ben & Jerry’s location to this is at least 15 miles away. This company isn’t shy about mixing in the good stuff and apparently they are working double time to come up with even better ideas to tantalize the consumer’s palate. After having featured their core flavors last year, perhaps to be elaborated and reviewed at another time, they announced the introduction of their Cookie Core line in 2015. Oh yes, they did.

To find these, I went to Target, Walmart, the A&P and each time I came up empty handed. This past Saturday, on my way home from visiting my Mother – it dawned on me. I LIVE IN A TOWN WITH A BEN & JERRY’S SCOOP SHOP, HELLO? Perhaps the sugar in my diet has warped my brain over time, but the idea is always better late than never. For anyone who has never visited the Mount Kisco location, they have one little freezer. Not seeing them and not being too shy to inquire, I asked for it. I was hit with pure elation when the girl working behind the counter, young enough to be my daughter came out from the back holding one pint of each three new flavors. While polite, I could tell she was amused by my beaming smile over this and I thought, “Oh Hun, when you’re my age, this is what you have to look forward to.” Twenty one dollars later, I left with a lighter wallet, a heavy paper bag and all of the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning. 

Get ready for me to rock your world. I decided to try these flavors in order of what I thought I would like least and work my way to the one I was the most excited for. That being said, the first pint to be reviewed is Boom Chocolatta, described by Ben & Jerry’s as Mocha & Caramel Ice Creams with Chocolate Cookies, Fudge Flakes & a Chocolate Cookie Core. As somebody who is writing a food blog, you would think I could be familiar with what mocha is, but all I know is that it’s something between coffee and chocolate and I don’t hate it. Generally speaking, I am not a huge caramel girl so like I said, I had moderate expectations for this ice cream. After all, there is no peanut butter. 

Opening the lid, the chocolate cookie core was already peaking at me, waiting to be accessed. I really liked this. It allowed me to spice up the caramel ice cream, which admittedly was the weak link in this pint. The mocha ice cream was velvety, mousy and certainly more chocolate than coffee. I thought I liked mocha okay, but no – I LOVE IT. The cookie core is a grainy darkish chocolate cookie that tastes like it has butter mixed in. It’s a very soft core, but not doughy enough to be cookie dough. It is “last meal good”. 

One should note that it took longer to write this brief review than it did to polish off the pint of this stuff. I am going to say this and you are going to need to trust me; this is the best ice cream I have had in over a year’s time. If you know me, I have ice cream most days. I love it, live it, it’s my family, whatever. This is the best thing I have reviewed so far out of all food types as a part of this blog. If there was a star rating scheme, it would get the highest rating. Eat this, then eat some more. I know I will be.