Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gimme S'more (An Ice Cream Review)

I’m afraid it’s becoming shamefully obvious that I just can’t stay away from Ben & Jerry’s, no matter how many other brands I try instead. They are truly my heros, especially after their ingenious invention of Phish Food Froyo, which has become my most beloved flavor. It’s the marshmallow swirl that does it for me, but I also adore those little fudge fishies....

So S’mores seemed like an obvious choice when I finally found it at Giant yesterday. According to the label, it has all that and more:

“Chocolate Ice Cream with Fudge Chunks, Toasted Marshmallow & Graham Cracker Swirls”
Not just marshmallow swirls, toasted marshmallow swirls. I remember liking the toasted marshmallow in Rocky Road-ish and wishing it was mixed with something other than almonds--well, here it is. Plus, the fudge chunks could play the role of the fudge fish, and we’d have a toasty variation of Phish Food plus some graham crackers.


Wow, as usual Ben and Jerry aren’t shorting us on the mix-ins. Believe it or not, that peanut butter-looking thing is the toasted marshmallow swirl. If there’s one thing they did wrong here it’s making the marshmallow swirl that color, because it looks too much like graham cracker and, to be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two swirls at first. They look almost exactly the same, only the graham cracker swirl has a gritty texture and is relatively infrequent, while the marshmallow is gooey and everywhere.


There are also quite a few fair-sized fudge pieces, though nowhere near the size of my little fishy friends.


Like I said, the marshmallow is extra-gooey. It makes the ice cream even creamier, which I thought was pretty awesome since Ben & Jerry’s chocolate tends to be harder to scoop than its lighter-colored bases (vanilla, cake batter, pretty much anything non-chocolate. The same thing happens with Phish Food).

OK, first off, I recommend letting this sit out a bit until it gets a little melty, because then you can truly enjoy the creamy richness that is B&J’s chocolate ice cream. If you’re that patient. ;) But you won’t be disappointed either way, because it’s the best chocolate base I’ve ever had (as with all B&J’s chocolate bases). It’s weird, but with this flavor I almost got a brownie batter vibe with the first bite. It went away, though, so I think my taste buds were a little skewed at first.

The fudge chunks are more what I’d consider flakes, and I do wish they were bigger, but at the same time they still lend a fudgy factor to the already chocolatey bliss. Not the extra-deep tones from the Phish Food fish, but they hold their own nonetheless.

The toasted marshmallow swirl is everything I could ask for: fluffy, gooey, oozing, and sweet. It was muted a bit by the chocolate ice cream, but its sheer prevalence made it impossible to ignore. The graham cracker swirl is a lot harder to find, and I’m afraid anyone who loves that part of a real s’more will be slightly disappointed. I was halfway through my bowl, thinking I was mistaking marshmallow for graham cracker, before I finally found the elusive final element. Some of the graham crackers are still crunchy--an amazing feat in itself, given the fact that it’s surrounded by creamy melting ice cream--while some were softer, almost like they’d been soaked in milk (think Oreos). These ones give the ice cream some extra chew, which was a cool contrast to the hard crunch of the frozen chocolate flakes. They add an interesting sweet note to the deep chocolate ice cream and, I found, are best enjoyed sans marshmallow (they get overpowered). Since I like like marshmallow swirl so much, I’m not too sad that the graham cracker was so rare.

So, although it could use some bigger chunks and more graham crackers to really be a testament to s’mores, this pint really hits the spot for me. It gets slammed a lot in online reviews, but in all honesty I like it better than classic flavors like Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Cookie Dough, just because it’s so unusual. But it still doesn’t touch Phish Food.
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