Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey Ice Cream

I've really been getting back into ice cream lately. In truth, it's one of my favorite confections, below dark chocolate and above cake. To reserve my chocolate palate I shall not allow myself to indulge often, but it can be a good treat now and then. For the first time in my life I'm discovering just how much better the premium ice creams, like Haagen Dazs, are over the cheaper grocery store varieties. They may be much more expensive, but the quality of the ingredients, fat content, and better texture are much worth it; I'll save my money for them, even if it means eating ice cream less often.

Most recently I've had the pleasure to try Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey, banana ice cream with walnut pieces and fudge chunks. Bananas are one of my favorite fruits, and I especially love them in my confections. I'm still waiting for someone to make a good banana dark chocolate bar, for the Valor version is simply unacceptable with its stale taste and throat-irritating properties.

Overall, this ice cream is nice, but not sufficient enough to be good or great. The banana base is wonderfully sweet and smooth with it being entirely devoid of fruit puree chunks, but the walnuts and fudge resign themselves more to texture than flavor contributions. I wish the walnuts were a little saltier, for being frozen and trapped in banana ice cream covered up the nuttiness and leaves but a soft and yielding crunch leftover. As a dark chocolate connoisseur the fudge was a virtually useless inclusion: Given my high cacao threshold (up to 100%), sweeter chocolate varieties tend to taste less chocolately to me. The fudge must be low in its cocoa concentration, for the chunks just tasted like flavorless blocks of matter, making this confectionery entirely absent of any chocolate note. More intense chocolate would be a definite improvement.

Nonetheless, it is the banana base that I admire in this variety, and the walnuts do add a nice texture contrast. The fudge might be wasted space, but not enough so that you feel like bland bites are in excess. I came for the banana ice cream and got the banana ice cream. It's good and worth the scoop, but surely there are better potential successors. Is there no chocolate ice cream with cocoa percentages, or is that but a dream right now?

1 comment:

  1. I love ice cream, and after 10 years of living in NYC, where you can get all kinds of small-batch stuff, I've found that there is an exponential difference between even the best store brands (I would characterize Haagen-Dazs as pretty good, but won't buy it unless I am away from home and can't get my favorites) and smaller-batch brands, especially those that use cream that hasn't been ultra-pasteurized and/or comes from grassfed cows. My favorites are Blue Marble and Ronnybrook Dairy -- the Blue Marble sweet cream flavor, in particular, is far and away the best ice cream I've ever had. You can tell from the first taste that the cows were grassfed -- the taste and texture are just heavenly.

    Unfortunately, ice cream being a particularly perishable product, these small brands tend to be available only locally. Fortunately for you, I can't imagine that there aren't some great Wisconsin dairies putting out high-caliber ice cream that sell in Michigan -- if not in "big box" supermarkets, then perhaps at places like Whole Foods or smaller mom-and-pop groceries. Not cheap (although I pay the same for Ronnybrook as I would for Haagen-Dazs, which makes it only a minor splurge), but I'd rather have one pint of Blue Marble and savor each of those four servings than have a quart of Haagen-Dazs.


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