Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Heath Bar...Crunch? (An Ice Cream Review)

Remember how, at the end of last year, I went on a spending frenzy on campus to use up all my extra meal points? Well, given the price of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, buying up the store’s supply of their ice cream seemed like a fine idea...and, nearly a year later, believe it or not, I still have some left over.

This is Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch, and I think I’ve let it sit so long for two reasons: one, at 280 calories per serving, it’s on  the higher end of the spectrum; and two, how unimaginative is “Vanilla Ice Cream with Chunks of HEATH® Bars”? I mean come on, Breyers makes a Heath Blasts! flavor that’s half the calories, and it even has a caramel swirl, too. But I’ve been having a toffee craving all week, and I was starting to feel guilty about letting this ice cream go to waste, so I finally chanced a look at it last night.

No shortage of Heath chunks, but Ben & Jerry have never been conservative with their mix-ins. There’s a big chunk right on top there, although the toffee seems to have deteriorated into a soft liquid-ish substance...hmm.

Yep, my suspicions are confirmed: about halfway down into the pint, my scoop made a weird sucking sound and I pulled it away to find a large Heath puddle, which I assume was formerly a Heath crunch that has been in the freezer for a few months too long. Whoops.

In fact, there were several places where the toffee part of the Heath bars had turned into a swirl-like consistency, reminding me of the nougat in Chocolate Nougat Crunch. But it was actually kind of cool, since I liked the texture of that nougat swirl. The toffee flavor was still really, really strong, and the chocolate chunks provided some texture. The “swirl” that wasn’t supposed to be there made it nice and gooey, and I think B&J’s should totally consider adding some sort of liquefied toffee swirl to this flavor on purpose. I also found a few toffee-containing chunks that survived and were still crunchy (exactly two, to be exact); they were both large and exactly what you would expect from a piece of Heath bar.

As for the base ice cream, it’s a fine vanilla, maybe a little boring where my poor abused toffee had not infiltrated it. This particular pint wasn’t as creamy due to its age; it had more of a tendency to “break” when scooped than to “snowball” on the spoon/scoop like a creamy ice cream would. But that’s my fault for letting it languish so long. Lesson learned, even if the expiration date says April 2013, that’s not necessarily the best-by date.

Still, even though most of the “crunch” was missing from “Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch,” I enjoyed it. The strong toffee flavor satisfied my craving, and I totally invented Ben & Jerry’s next breakthrough swirl...but with all the other companies churning out similar (and healthier) options, I probably won’t buy this one again, even to experience it fresh.
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