Monday, February 4, 2013

Fluff You (An Ice Cream Review)

One thing you can count on with Ben & Jerry’s is the unique names they give their flavors. Some of which are suggestive and/or controversial--think Karamel Sutra, Schweddy Balls, Clusterfluff.... Wait, you’ve never seen that last one? That’s because it’s now dubiously called “What A Cluster,” supposedly because “fluff” is trademarked...but come on, after the uproar about Schweddy Balls, it’s probably actually because of what happens when you’re not careful saying “Clusterfluff.”

Despite the awful name, What a Cluster sounds pretty darn good. It’s “Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Caramel Cluster Pieces, Marshmallow Swirls & Peanut Buttery Swirls.” Basically a Fluffernutter with clusters. Just reading the description brought back memories of eating peanut butter and marshmallows for dinner when I was in high school.

Immediately upon opening the pint, you’re bombarded by the smell of peanut butter. If you’re not in a peanut butter mood, put this ice cream away right now, because it is THE most peanut buttery ice cream I’ve ever tasted! First of all, there’s the base ice cream, which is only slightly milder than straight peanut butter, but there’s also the peanut butter swirl. Which is literally JUST like spooning the stuff right out of the jar. It’s both creamy and substantial, and where it’s thick and there are huge chunks (which isn’t uncommon), it almost takes on a cookie dough texture--you know that grittiness. It is a peanut butter explosion.

It’s also a cluster explosion--these things are everywhere, annoyingly so. Sure, they’re sort of sweet, but they’re also nutty, and I prefer my peanut butter separate from my peanuts. They vary in texture; I had a crispy one, which I didn’t mind, but then there were some that got stuck in my teeth like peanuts do sometimes. You know how some of them still have that inner skin/shell on them when you buy them in a can? It was sort of like I could feel those hanging out in my teeth, which dampened the peanut butter ecstasy I was in.

The marshmallow swirl, unfortunately, gets a little muted amid all the other elements. Which is a shame, because I know from Phish Food that Ben & Jerry’s marshmallow swirl is awesome and without equal. Here, it’s hard to even distinguish from the peanut butter ice cream, but if you look closely you can tell that there are pure white parts with a slightly different texture than the light brown ice cream. Eating it is much the same. It has a very fluffy texture and sweet taste, which is a nice contrast to the strong peanut butter. It’s not a bad swirl at all, I just with there was a little more of it. Peanut butter is so overpowering that when you mix stuff with it, you have to use a lot. Except those clusters, we don’t need more of them. I’m starting to think maybe taking the “fluff” out of “Clusterfluff” was actually just better branding.

I’ve had my eye on this ice cream for a while now, but to be honest it was a bit of a fear food for me at 320 calories per serving (I believe only two other B&J’s flavors have more). Four servings per pint...and I know I usually eat at least 3/4 of a pint.... So I was proud of myself for finally kicking the disordered mindset and buying this pint. And boy am I glad I did! Now I can die happily knowing that I have fully lived, because that’s how epic this ice cream is, clusters and all.
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