Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest Review: Caramel Hazelnut Fudge Truffle (Kroger's Private Selections)

We have a guest review today, so welcome Christina Franke, who blogs at A Reader of Fictions. This ice cream sounds fantastic, and I'm pretty sad we don't have Kroger in my neck of the woods.
I love ice cream like whoa. I know, I know. So does everyone. I do not, however, eat ice cream all that often, largely because I hate exercising and vegetables, so if I go nuts with it, I will not be happy with my weight. Besides, ice cream is pretty expensive.

The one exception to the not eating much ice cream rule was when I went to Italy. While I was there, I ate gelato AT LEAST once a day, sometimes twice, because that was so delicious, and there was a ton of walking. I just want to live in Tuscany, so I can walk everywhere, drink wine and eat gelato all the time. Too much to ask? Anyone in the interwebs want to hire me for a job there? No?

Okay, I should probably stop talking about gelato and focus on the ice cream I’m visiting to discuss. Here’s how I lost my will power: I follow Kelly Jensen on Twitter. Since she started blogging for Scooped, she’s been posting about delicious ice cream CONSTANTLY. So, of course, I have been craving ice cream like Voldemort craves Harry’s demise. Then when I was in the grocery store, pints of ice cream just happened to be on sale. Clearly, I HAD to by ice cream. The fates WANTED me to eat ice cream, and you can’t piss off the fates, right?

So here’s what I bought, although in a smaller size:

Caramel Hazelnut Fudge Truffle. Sounds delicious, right? Private Selection is Kroger’s fancy brand. They have a ton of amazing sounds ice creams on offer, and I think I will have to try more, as this one was such a success. Also, please be proud of me that I actually made my pint last for FOUR sittings. This was nothing short of a miracle.

First, let’s discuss the ice cream itself before moving on to the additions. The chocolate hazelnut ice cream was delicious.  I would be pretty happy just eating the plain ice cream. Hazelnut is probably the best nutty flavor (the one that also brings us the taste sensation that is Nutella), and even the base of this ice cream is stellar.

Second, we have the addition of the caramel. The caramel is well-integrated. Although there is not caramel in every bite, they definitely did not skimp on it, either. There was even one vein of MUCH caramel, which I mightily appreciated. The caramel drizzle enhanced the flavor of the ice cream perfectly.

Finally, there are the fudge truffles. They were, in my opinion, the weak link of this ice cream. They weren’t bad, and they certainly were plentiful. (I love when ice cream makers don’t skimp on ingredients, don’t you?) However, they were not as delicious as I was anticipating. Some of them had what I think was caramel in the center, and those were more pleasant, but others were just chocolate. They were a bit too crunchy for the texture sensation I expected from this ice cream. I think this ice cream would have been improved by a softer truffle, or the use of fudge or brownie pieces instead.

All things considered, Private Selections’ Caramel Hazelnut Fudge Truffle was an utter delight for the palate. I eagerly anticipate more Private Selections in my future. Usually I am skeptical of store brands for certain products, but Kroger definitely delivers with their ice cream line.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Recently Scooped

Over the last couple of weeks, I've tried out three new-to-me ice creams, some with better results than others.

Cedar Crest is a local ice cream (I mentioned Wisconsin makes a lot of ice cream, right? And this one has actual ties to the small town I'm living in.). I've never tried it before, so I went with a safe flavor I knew I'd like, chocolate chip cookie dough.

This is a winner! I love that the ice cream has a flavor to it, that it's almost more of a french vanilla than a standard vanilla. The cookie dough pieces were sizable, as were the chocolate chips. I don't know how wide the distribution is on this ice cream, but I recommend trying it if you can find it. It was much fresher and tastier than most other brands.

A couple weeks ago, I raved about the spiced caramel biscuit limited edition Haagen Dazs ice cream, so I tried my hand at the other limited edition, salted caramel truffle. I wasn't impressed with this one as much, though.

I found the ice cream itself unremarkable and I thought that the salted caramel was....not that tasty. It was certainly caramel, but the salted aspect didn't come through at all. That, in addition to the less-than-tasty ice cream and the truffles (which were themselves fine) made this pretty one-note. There wasn't a lot of excitement to the flavor. I won't be picking this one up again.

I lied about all of my recent ice cream acquisitions being new to me. This one is not. I think I've mentioned my affection for vanilla ice cream with Heath in it (and I do plan on blogging about my favorite vanilla-Heath combination soon). Breyers Blasts does not disappoint at all. I'm not a fan of Heath Bars on their own; they're too sticky for my tastes. But put them in a good vanilla ice cream and you have me.

Breyers doesn't skimp on a good vanilla ice cream. It's creamy and flavorful, and the Heath adds that perfect salty-bitter sweetness to it. Because it's frozen, the sticky factor is not problematic for me. There's a whole line of these Blasts, each featuring a different kind of cookie or candy bar as the mix-in. I'll be making my way through their list soon (maybe starting with the Golden Oreo one!).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Local Flavor: Uncle Harry's Frozen Custard

Wisconsin is known as the dairy state and for good reason. We have out-of-this-world cheese (I bet no other state in the country has as large a selection of premium cheeses in their stores than we do!) and I'm sure our milk is pretty good too (I'm not a milk drinker, so I can't speak with expertise on that one). But the other thing Wisconsin is known for is what we bring to the ice cream family: frozen custard. If you're at all familiar with Culver's and their frozen custard, you can thank my state for its contribution to your fast food ice cream choices. Milwaukee is supposed to be the frozen custard capital of the world.

If you're unfamiliar with what differentiates frozen custard from ice cream, it's pretty simple. It has a higher percentage of egg in it, so it's a thicker consistency. And really, that's it. It's simple but it has a different taste to it, and I think it takes its flavors differently because of the thickness. 

Because this is Wisconsin, of course we have plenty of frozen custard in our stores, too. I haven't tried very much of it yet because I think I prefer ice cream to it, but I stumbled upon Uncle Harry's not too long ago and gave it a shot because it's local. Very local, in fact. Their headquarters is in Waterford, Wisconsin, which is about a thirty minute drive or so from my house. In trying to pick out what flavor to try, I decided to go all out with my Wisconsin-ness (which, btw, I'm not actually very Wisconsin at all, not being native) and try my hand at Badger Tracks.

Oh my word.

Badger tracks contains chocolate chips, as well as swirls of raspberry jam in it. I've noted before not being a huge fan of sweet ice cream, but the fact that this is custard off set the sweetness of the raspberry. Did I mention there are also chunks of brownie in here, too? It's brilliant. The chocolate-raspberry combination with the vanilla custard works well.

Because this is thick stuff, you cannot possibly eat the entire carton in one sitting. This is the kind of ice cream you get to enjoy for a long time because there's so much to it. Even writing about this right now, my mouth is watering at the thought of the raspberry swirls. 

It's probably unfair to blog about something most of you will never get to try. But I'll probably make it worse by telling you that I just discovered Uncle Harry's serves custard in-store, too, and it looks like there is an array of flavor choices (Heath Bar is calling my name in a big way). Which means I'll be taking a field trip in the name of research some time in the near future. Looks like you can purchase this at Woodman's (a local Wisconsin-Illinois grocer) and I know you can get it at Piggly Wiggly (where I get it). For a little over $3 for a carton that will last you for a few servings, this stuff is worth it.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Spiced Caramel Biscuit (Haagen Dazs)

Last week, I was a little bummed out and decided the right course of action was to purchase some ice cream. I decided for the sake of expanding my horizons and for the sake of, well, blogging something besides red velvet cake ice cream, I'd try something totally different.

And let me say, Haagen Dazs will be seeing my business again.

Spiced Caramel Biscuit ice cream might be ringing in near the top of my favorite ice creams list, and I've only had it once (though I made sure to purchase a second carton today). The base ice cream is caramel, and it's a nice, smooth flavor. The carton describes it as velvety, but I hate using that word to describe food. As much as the ice cream itself is delicious, what is stand out is the incorporation of the spiced biscuit.

I was a little hesitant at first because I'm not a huge fan of cookies in my ice cream; however, the biscuit in this one is somewhere between a graham cracker and biscotti in terms of flavor and texture, and it paired really well with the caramel ice cream. The biscuit isn't soggy nor too hard -- it melts in your mouth without a whole lot of effort. Spiced Caramel Biscuit reminded me of tea time in Europe (not that I've ever had tea time in Europe but I've seen it on TV enough to know what that must be like). It's sweet, but it's not too sweet and it made me want a cup of tea when I was finished. There's a bit of a bite to it, as the biscuit itself is somewhat spicy with its cinnamon hues. Yes, I felt fancy using the word hues to describe cinnamon.

This is a limited edition ice cream, and it reminded me a little bit of the limited edition Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream that came out a few years ago (do you remember that? It was the winning flavor from the Food Network's amazing Scoop! competition. Why don't they bring that show back?). According to Haagen Dazs's website, this one will be available through December.

As much as I like ice cream, I'm not a huge fan of sweet flavors. I prefer more muted tones, and this one hits all the right notes. It's a little pricey at $3.50 or so for the small, 4-serving carton, but this one is worth the extra pennies.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: D’Ambrosio Gelato in Seattle, Washington (Guest Post)

Jackie Parker -- librarian, sometimes blogger, and foodie -- has submitted the first SCOOPED guest post, and it's a review of Seattle's D'Ambrosio Gelato.

When I first moved to my neighborhood the only ice cream to be found in this incredibly walkable local was an overpriced frozen yogurt shop that claimed to be green, but served the stuff in styrofoam. Since then, there’s been an explosion in tune with the rumored statistic of Seattle being the second highest ice cream consuming city. This had made me very happy. The newest shop is D’Ambrosio Gelato. I’ve eaten a fair amount of gelato in my life, but D’Ambrosio is easily the creamiest I’ve ever had. Every flavor I’ve tasted has been great. On this outing Kyle and I both got medium dishes. Medium comes with three options; I went with Pistacchio, Hazelnut, and Caramel & Figs. Kyle got Crunchy Biscotti and Lemon Ginger.

The hazelnut and pistachio where good representation of fairly standard flavors; sweet, balanced by nuttiness. The standout was the Caramel & Fig. People, this was caramel gelato swirled with a jammy fig compote - I had what must have been a half a preserved fig in my swirl. It also blended beautifully with the two nutty flavors.

Kyle was pleasantly surprised at how well the biscotti went with the lemon ginger. For the biscotti, don’t think those twice baked cookies you get in coffee shops, think of Biscoff cookies crumbled in a sweet cream gelato. The lemon ginger had a bright pop that faded into the vegetal spiciness of fresh ginger, tempering the sweetness of the biscotti gelato.

The store’s only been open for a couple months, but this was our third time there. It won’t be our last. 

I know where Jackie will be taking me next time I am in Seattle. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake -- DIY

We couldn't leave our readers drooling right away, so we thought we'd kick this blog off with our first ice cream DIY. Technically, this is a milkshake, but in my mind, milkshakes are in the ice cream family. No need to discriminate.

You can make this with just the ingredients in your kitchen right now. Recipe makes 2 servings.

- 1 ripe banana
- 2 spoonfuls of peanut butter (adjust as you wish - I like 2 heaping spoonfuls)
- 1 cup of milk (I use skim)
- 10 ice cubes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- dash of salt
- dash of cinnamon

Cut the banana into pieces and put all of the ingredients into a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Aside from bananas and peanut butter being natural pals, the salt in this gives just the right balance to the sweetness. Bonus: this milkshake is probably healthy.


Recipe adapted from here, where they've gone for a non-dairy approach.

Red Velvet Cake (Blue Bunny)

If you are anything like me, you sometimes make your grocery purchases based on the packaging alone. So when you see the big head of Duff Goldman (of Charm City Cakes fame) you are somewhat turned off. I mean. I don't want the picture of some tv cake star on my ice cream carton.

But I am so glad I decided to swallow my pride in favor of the lush, lush offerings of Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream.

It is the perfect blend of vanilla -- not too strong, not too weak -- with actual bits of red velvet cake. Imagine the beauty of red velvet cake (my favorite!) paired with great ice cream (uhm, also my favorite!) and you have the world's most perfect ice cream. The vanilla quality is of note because it doesn't take a back seat to the cake, and the cake doesn't lose its cakey-ness as a result of being married to the ice cream. These aren't chunks of ice, friends. This is the real deal.

One serving is not enough. This is the kind of ice cream you remove the lid from...and deposit the lid right into the trash can. You won't be needing it. The only requirement for this stuff is a spoon and about half an hour on the couch.

For those who are as turned off by Duff as I am, I suggest bringing along a sharpie, as well, and making a game of mustache-making while you're enjoying the delectable treat inside the carton.

At roughly $4/carton, I promise you will not regret a cent spent on this treat. It's great for your good days, and it's even better on your bad days. My only caution is if you have loved ones expecting a piece of this cake-filled ice cream, you better buy more than one.