Friday, April 5, 2013

Haagen-Dazs Spiced Caramel Biscuit (An Ice Cream Review)

I feel so lucky right now.

OK, let’s start at the beginning. I can’t remember the last time I had Haagen-Dazs, but it was probably at an airport scoop shop between flights, on the way to the Grand Canyon or something. Since I haven’t flown for about 10 years, that should give you some idea. (That’s about to change this summer, though, when IBM orientates me in New York....)

Back in the present, I decided it was time to break away from so much Ben & Jerry’s and investigate the other ridiculously expensive brands. And among the usual suspects at Giant was this conspicuously purple container:

We know purple means limited edition in Haagen-Dazs’ color-coded system of almost-pints. But what I didn’t know was that Spiced Caramel Biscuit is one of last year’s limited edition flavors. It’s no longer up on their website.

So what the heck is Spiced Caramel Biscuit? Well, I found out that it’s code for speculoos (Biscoff cookies), as the back of the semi-pint helpfully explains. Which got me extra excited, because I absolutely love Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter, a spread made from said cookies. They’re  a European thing, made of gingerbread and spices and whatnot (I’m not sure exactly). I’ve never had the actual cookie, but the spread is so divine that I had to stop buying it or else I’d go through a whole jar in no time. Which is not a nutritionally advisable feat.

Anyway, back to the ice cream.... The base is caramel, and it hits you immediately. In fact, it tastes pretty much exactly like Ben & Jerry’s caramel base. It’s a milky caramel flavor, not deep or dark like a caramel swirl or like Talenti’s Sea Salt Caramel base. But it’s still very rich, though not as dense and creamy as B&J’s. Granted, since this is an old limited edition, I don’t know how long it’s been in the freezer, but it was certainly much easier to scoop than any of Vermont’s finest.

The ice cream is studded with pieces of speculoos, and they’re everywhere. Some are crumbles, almost like a graham cracker swirl, and others are big cookie chunks. They pair amazing well with the caramel, adding some cinnamon/gingerbread tones. Their texture is also really cool--like dipping cookies in milk; you can tell they are supposed to be a “hard” (crunchy) cookie, but they’ve softened in the ice cream. They are crumbly, still a little crunchy, soggy in a good way...they add a bit of cookie dough-like grit to the ice cream, taking it up another notch. While they don’t leave much plain base untouched, they aren’t overwhelming, so if you’re a HUGE Biscoff fan, you might be longing for more of the speculoos flavor. But for me, the balance was perfect.

I still can’t quite believe I scored this pint. I felt lucky after finding it Googling, and discovering that it should have disappeared last December. But now that I’ve actually eaten it, I feel like the luckiest person on the planet. And I also feel sad that once I finish the measly half-serving that I didn’t eat yet, it’s gone for good. Please, Haagen-Dazs, make this a regular flavor!
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