Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Imagine All The Ice Cream...(An Ice Cream Review)

You know it’s bad when Ben & Jerry’s fails to be exciting. But having nearly exhausted the interesting and delicious-sounding Ben & Jerry’s flavors at Weis, Wegmans, and the nearest Walmart, I have to say it was starting to seem like the same flavors over and over again. And then I found the flavor locator on their website. I know, I know, it’s fairly obvious (OK, really obvious) and if I was paying any attention at all I would have found it months ago. But it was a really exciting moment for me, because it directed me to a whole new gold mine of Ben & Jerry’s flavors in State College.

Which is how I found myself furtively sneaking through the self-checkout with five pints of B&J’s (that’s what self-checkouts are for, after all ;)). I just couldn’t decide--so many flavors I’d never seen around here before, and others I hadn’t seen since my days scouring the freezers at the convenience store near my dorm. Among them were the S’mores I recently wrote about, and today’s subject: Imagine Whirled Peace.

This ice cream is named after John Lennon’s hit, and it’s described as:
“Caramel & Sweet Cream Ice Creams Swirled with Fudge Peace Signs & Toffee Cookie Pieces”
I’ve actually had this before, so I knew I liked it. But even if I hadn’t, I’m a caramel addict, I love sweet cream and toffee...oh yeah, and chocolate! Hmm, did B&J’s, make this label to describe their ice cream or me?

Opening it up, you don’t get a full appreciation for this flavor right away. You have to dig. There are a few fudge pieces showing through the surface, and you can see the two different ice creams, and a few little bits of toffee cookie. But a few scoops down you’re running into toffee cookies right and left, you can’t avoid them, there are at least three in each scoopful. No kidding, this has to be the most plentiful mix-in I’ve ever seen in a pint of B&J’s.

Anyway, the best way I can describe this ice cream is pleasant. The first bite I took was purely base--no mix-ins--and I have to say I was a little weirded out because it had more flavor than I was expecting from something so mild-looking. There was an edge to it, what might have been bordering on the edge of too sweet. I think it was the caramel ice cream, but it may have been the way the two mixed together. After the initial shock, though, I settled into it and started to enjoy how rich and creamy it is.

The toffee cookies are an interesting choice. Usually you have toffee chunks, like Heath bars or some such candy. But these are soft, chewy cookies. Most of them are soft and doughy without quite being cookie dough; they lack that unbaked grit. But I did encounter one that seemed to have a crunchy toffee piece inside. The thing about using cookies instead of toffee chunks is that they’re comparatively mild. While they do impart a toffee flavor, it’s nothing like a Heath bar. But it works here, because otherwise the base ice creams might be overwhelmed, which would be a waste of non-vanilla base in my opinion. However, if you hit a spoonful with tons of cookies, you can’t argue that they have a strong toffee flavor in concentration.

The peace signs are unique in that, despite being submerged in a frozen dessert, they are not excessively hard or frozen. They might be crunchy right out of the freezer, but they soften up quickly and are actually quite creamy. While the fudge fish in Phish Food and the chocolate chunks in S’mores were darker, these are a milk chocolate. They don’t give a very deep chocolate flavor, so once again Ben & Jerry are going for mild here.

My only complaint would be that the sweet cream ice cream has no flavor. Which is weird, because it certainly did in Chocolate Nougat Crunch...I think maybe the caramel ice cream and toffee are overshadowing the flavor, despite B&J’s attempt at mildness. But overall this is a very good ice cream. Nothing pops, it’s mellow, it’s...peaceful.
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