Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ben & Jerry's Salted Caramel Almond Ice Cream

[New for 2017] There was a bit of a delay getting this next review to you because Albertson's (who owns my local Shaws Supermarkets) decided they wanted to get in the exclusive flavor game this year. I don't really know how these things get decided though I assume it involves money.... anyway, I finally managed to snag a pint on the way to work, so let's dig in to....

Ben & Jerry's Salted Caramel Almond Ice Cream
vanilla bean ice cream with roasted almond slivers,
fudge flakes & a salted caramel swirl

Today is a beautiful day. Ok, technically it was a beautiful day when I opened this (yesterday) and today today is probably even nicer. Why am I saying this? Because I want you to get outside and eat some ice cream! Oh why must we work in these cold little cubes when we could be soaking in the sunrays and powering ourselves through the most productive afternoon ever? Should I stop? Ok, fine, I'll stop and get back to the review.

I take a few bites and come to a conclusion, this flavor is surprisingly delicate, but stay with me. When I speak here and in real life, I choose my words very carefully (even if it doesn't always show). I didn't say muted. I didn't say boring. I said delicate. I say this because I was surprised at how well all of the components are pushing the vanilla bean flavor on to my tastebuds. I enjoyed it because it was the perfect allegory for how I was feeling as I sat there in the warm sunshine. I didn't want to melt in the hot sun, I just wanted to be reminded of the better things in life. Wow, what is wrong with me today? The weather changes and suddenly I think I'm some deep minded poet or something.

Basically all the components are pleasant without being overbearing in anyway. The caramel sauce is pleasant without distracting, the almond factor is visually present but only adding just a subtle bit to the overall flavor profile. The large fudge flakes add the #funfactor but manage to not take away from the vanilla bean.

So, to sum up, it's a neat flavor that I'm glad I got a chance to try. This flavor is not designed to blow your mind, it's designed to just be a solid flavor that feels familiar yet different. If I had to say what it reminds me of, I would say it reminds me of a waffle cone flavor actually. Go give it a try and let us all know what you think of it.

On Second Scoop: Alright, to be honest, this one wasn't as exciting on the second try, but maybe I should have went outside to eat it again (like I recommended everyone else should). The caramel is spot on, the base is fine, I just don't get the almond factor. It adds no flavor but if you let your scoop of ice cream melt on your tastebuds, you'll be left with a bunch of almond bits that you'll need to swallow all by themselves. I hate spelling it out like that but it's just an odd way for an ice cream to play out. I wouldn't be afraid to try this one, but I don't see a lot of repeat purchases unless you can overlook the almonds as you dive in to the tasty caramel swirl.

Verdict?  not bad
Buy Again?  iunno


29 comments:

2c5751ca-f142-11e4-8c2c-73a49f720d67 said...

The "pointless" almond pieces probably wouldn't sit well with me. I can't even stand their "fudge chunks" most of the time. Having said that, they need to utilize their vanilla bean base more. It was so good in Late Night Snack.

btw have you seen their new exclusive flavor "keep caramel and cookie on"? That sounds right up my alley. Do you know where its exclusive to?

Nick said...

I totally agree about the vanilla bean base. I wish all their flavors that use a vanilla base - cookie dough, americone dream, etc - had vanilla bean instead. I actually do like their regular vanilla, but something about those beans...

Alex Szymborski said...

Keep Caramel and Cookie On is a Target exclusive! I tried it today and I think it's one of their best new flavors in a while

Bob said...

basically almost americone dream minus the waffle cone pieces and sub in almonds.... Pretty sad B&J is basically replicating old flavors and throwing the horrible fudge flakes in every single flavor.

Americone: Vanilla Ice Cream with Fudge Covered Waffle Cone Pieces & a Caramel Swirl
Salted Caramel: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Roasted Almond Slivers, Fudge Flakes & a Salted Caramel Swirl

Toss in almond slivers and change the base.. Innovation...

Anonymous said...

All of there ice cream is good it might not be the kind you like there en is other kinds out there so just because you don't like on flavor of there ice cream it doesn't mean they have to stop selling them. Ben and Jerry's keep making your ice cream you guys make the best ice cream ever . You Ben and jerry you guys are awesome

Dubba Scoops said...

I like the diversity in the comments here. @Anon: I do believe that people have become way too hard on B&J's but that doesn't mean they get a free pass either. We should all be able to critique them without resorting to bashing them (not saying anyone is bashing here, but I know many do in general).

@Bob: Question: why the hate for the fudge flakes? it's fine if you don't like them, I'm just curious as to why? I think I prefer the more plentiful flakes to there larger but less plentiful chunks. Let me know!

(Hopefully I will find Keep Caramel at Target today or tomorrow)

2c5751ca-f142-11e4-8c2c-73a49f720d67 said...

IDK about Bob but for me, the fudge flakes take away from the enjoyment of the soft, smooth, rich ice cream and texture by having to chew these hard pieces that add a barely discernable taste. I love mix-ins, but feel like they should meaningfully contribute to the ice cream. Fudge flakes are like mix-ins for the sake of having mix-ins.

It doesn't help that when I hear "fudge" I expect something soft and rich, not a sort of hard flavorless chocolate chips

I love Ben & Jerry's but this is something that just drives me nuts. I'm passionate because I love them :)

Dubba Scoops said...

Do you like their larger fudge chunks that you can eat around when necessary? Or do you prefer no fudge hunks/chunks/flakes/chips at all?

Anonymous said...

I tried Keep Caramel and Cookie On. It's good, but would have been much better without those FUDGE FLAKES!!!

Nick said...

For me, I like the flavor of the fudge chunks, and I appreciate that they're larger than what you might get from, say, HD, because they're easier to extract on their own (or eat around). I do agree with others that they're often a little too hard, though. And probably a tad overused haha

2c5751ca-f142-11e4-8c2c-73a49f720d67 said...

Ideally none, but I'd actually rather have the tiny shredded flakes. I usually eat the melted edges of ice cream, so by then they're melted too and blend in well enough to not bother me, though that was my complaint about HD's new salted PB fudge flavor

The big pieces are usually too plentiful and eating around them is difficult, so I just eat them... but I don't like it! :)

Flavor obsessed said...

You guys might be reviewing the wrong flavors. Maybe I missed it, but Truffle Kerfluffle and Urban Bourbon are the flavors to get poetic about. They very well might make it into B&J's top ten of all time. Give me some feedback.

Flavor obsessed said...

What about Truffle Kerfluffle and Urban Bourbon? Delicious.

Dubba Scoops said...

Uggggg, it really is best not to start with any form of "you're wrong", that's just the cheezy way out and pits this as an Us vs Them. All you did was tell us that those two flavors are on YOUR top ten list. Let me take a "wild guess" and assume you liked their other alcohol inspired flavors? Very often people who tend to appreciate those flavors don't take the time to realize that many of us don't like an alcohol component to our ice cream.

Anyway, thank you for joining the conversation, but please remember to elaborate. That's when we start to understand each other and realize that we're not all the same.

Note: The only truly quantifiable top ten list is when you count how many pints are sold of each flavor, and you have to go straight to the source for that: http://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/2016/top-flavors-2016

Deb said...

Real question for people who want more diversity of flavor...At what point do you care more about new and creative than quality and taste? I'm not saying that creative is always less tasty, but I often find that the classics are higher quality vs. newer varieties that contain more "stuff" but may lack coherence in flavor of attention to the best ingredients. In other words, would you prefer super high quality vanilla, chocolate, cookie dough, etc. Vs. a lower quality base but with mix-ins, swirls, baked goods, etc?

Dubba Scoops said...

I want it all! quality, clarity, creativity!

Aaron L said...

@Dubba I always get a little confused by not liking "the flavor of alcohol". Is it that you don't like the "burn" of alcohol or the flavors of wine, rum or whiskey?
Also, I don't really like the flakes or chunks because chocolate(or mockolate, in this case) should never be that cold unless your intention is to suck on it like a hard candy. I do like the white fudge chunks in NYSFC very much, they have a nicer mouth feel and aren't overpowering in flavor. I wish they would use those more.

Dubba Scoops said...

@Aaron: I don't know how much the two can be differentiated, I don't know where my intolerance for burn and bitter ends. Keep in mind that I never drink. As an adult, I know what alcohol tastes like, I've had a sip of this or that, but I've never enjoyed it. I find it gross on several levels for the most part and I can recognize it even in the smallest quantities.

Aaron L said...

@Dubba I'm a pastry chef and I think there is a huge difference between a cake soaked with rum and a cake flavored with rum extract. Do you dislike the latter even thoug doesn't contain any actual alcohol?
Sorry to ask, but I've run into this with my work...and it is kind of hard to ask a client's guests why they disliked something you've made.

Dubba Scoops said...

@Aaron: I literally don't eat enough alcohol flavored things to tell you the difference so forgive me for having trouble with your questions. I don't think I have any particular issue with any added flavor complexity, but there's always an accompanying burn, or bite, or tingle, or even just kind of an effervescence. From my experience talking with the internet in general, I believe that my tastebuds are on the extreme of being sensitive to this kind of thing (though I have a pretty high sweet tolerance so it kind of works out). I'd be happy to be a guinea pig on any desserts that need trying :)

but seriously, yeah, it's kind of tough because I know a fair amount of people think I'm bonkers. I didnt drink in high school. I didnt drink in college. I didnt even drank the champagne at my wedding. I just don't like alcohol. I tried a sip of some fancy beer last year just to see if things had changed but they hadn't. It was disgusting!

2c5751ca-f142-11e4-8c2c-73a49f720d67 said...

Dubba, there are two types of drinkers in this world: those who drink for the effect, and those who enjoy the taste, colloquially known as liars hahaha. Kind of like the people who eat kale and are like, "it tastes good!" NUH UH. NO IT DOESNT. You know it doesn't, stop it. You're eating it because its insanely high in some micronutrients but you've half-jedi mind-tricked yourself into believing it does.

In seriousness, I once thought I hated the taste of alcohol too. But that was because up to that point I had only had light beer. Imagine having never tasted cola, and you go into a restaurant and order your first ever coca-cola, and they give you that crummy, heavily watered down restaurant soda (we've all had it at least once in our lives) and you're like "blergh, just give me water". And that is your basis for judging cola. Of course you're going to hate it if you think all cola tastes like that. Eventually I had a Guiness and I was like, "I can do this. I'd rather have ice cream, but I can do this". If I'm hungry its easier too, kind of like how broccoli and stuff tastes "good" (notice the quotation marks) when you're really hungry.

Anyway, I digress. I guess my point is different types of alcohols have different tastes and often its not the alcohol per se that you're tasting, its the hops or whatever (beer people, help me out here). I rarely drink but when I do its to get buzzed or drunk which works out because I don't need to drink much. If you're old enough to remember chewing vitamins before they were gummy bears, its like that. OPEN UP, AND TAKE DANG YOUR MEDICINE. hahaha

On a relevant note, I finally found HD's Bourbon Praline Pecan. I was expecting more of a sweet/zero alcohol/not-bourbon-*bourbon* like B&J's Urban Bourbon, but it that wasn't the case. Still enjoyed it though. Any plans for Nick to review that one?

Dubba Scoops said...

Don't take this the wrong way, but you just proved my point. For whatever reason, you've made several assumptions and thrown me in the little box marked "just hasn't had the right alcohol yet". I've been on this planet awhile, I know what alcohol tastes like. I just don't like it. It's like people who don't like chocolate, you assume they've had a bad experience or something... or maybe, just maybe, they just don't like chocolate.

2c5751ca-f142-11e4-8c2c-73a49f720d67 said...

I apologize, I wasn't trying to imply that you personally just hadn't had the "right alcohol" but it was a comment about what I myself had learned and was directed at the vast wasteland of the internetz in general because ethanol- "the alcohol in alcohol", tastes the same. It has the exact same chemical formula & structure, its all the other stuff they put in the bottle that makes, say, a cognac taste different than a tequila assuming a similar ABV%. Thats why, say Hagen Dazs can have a bourbon flavored ice cream, it can taste like bourbon, have "bourbon" in the ingredient list and have no alcohol in it. Knowledge is power, yo!

My whole thing was meant to be funny and I'm not sure there was an actual point I was trying to make, other than "well of course alcohol tastes bad". If alcohol tasted like ice cream we'd be in trouble.

Dubba Scoops said...

The problem with the internet is that subtlety is easily lost! Part of your conversation has been told to me many times by random people trying to "fix my problem" so I equated it to that.

Not having to spend money on alcohol has left a lot of free cash for my ice cream purchases, don't think I could afford both :)

Anonymous said...

@Deb, if you are talking about B&J, they were the head of the class at quality and creativity but they seem to be pretty stagnant there for a while.

Blue Bell seems to have that same general issue of being stagnant.

Dubba Scoops said...

Blue Bell had to rebuild their entire operation which unfortunately cut in to what limited creativity they had to begin with.

B&J's will always be held to a higher standard than most, the downside to being where and when they were and are. Sorry if that sounds completely stupid.

Anonymous said...

@Dubba, all fair points of course. It would be interesting to know what impact the rebuild has in limiting the creativity. I don't doubt it but specific factors (not saying you should know) would be interesting to know. My thought is that if products are selling they might not have an incentive to be more creative relative to what they are as a brand. I noted that they seem to be losing shelf space in Target.

The only thing with B&J is that misses seem to be no-brainers at this point. Like the fudge chip debate. Using them across all the new releases seem odd. The core series for example had hits and misses but I saw the direction.

Just my two cents. Ultimately nobody is making me buy it so first world problems.

Dubba Scoops said...

Right, $$$ drives which flavors they make right now. Keep the core audience happy is probably the most important part. Worry about attracting new customers after things have stabilized. All their early releases seemed to be classic stuff. Keep in mind that this is my opinion from a thousand miles away.

are you pro-chip or pro-chunk? I'm not sure. I think smaller chips makes sense if they are driving to a more busy pint. How many times have you seen someone complain that they don't get enough mix-ins? Going from chunks to chips helps alleviate that complaint.

Anonymous said...

@Dubba, you pretty much nailed it. From what I can tell their core audience is the main focus which is smart business. I will say that growing new business might be a tough pull for them going forward. I feel like while they were gone that vacuum allowed other brands like Sam's Choice, Talenti, Halo Top to take some of that "pint" market. Those aren't the same products or quality but I think getting someone to invest in a 1/2 gallon of a new brand will be tough on them.

Good question. I guess it depends on the application. Normally I'm all for bigger chips unless it's a super busy pint like you mentioned. Not to go back to the B&J well too much but on the recent use I think focusing on the other elements in those pints would have been the call. I think that's where a lot of the gripe is coming from.