* post updated below *
About a month ago, I was lamenting about not being able to reliably find my favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream — Vanilla Caramel Fudge — at any of my local grocery stores. It seems like a standard flavor that should be in regular demand, but it was often absent. I don’t buy a lot of ice cream; because of all of the sugar, fat, and calories involved, it’s a very occasional indulgence. But whenever I did want some, I was having a terrible time finding the one flavor I craved.
I went over to Twitter and asked Halo Top what flavors they would recommend to someone craving vanilla, chocolate, and fudge. I’d tried a few Halo Top flavors in the past; some of these low-calorie ice creams were a hit (especially the Lemon Cake and Chocolate), and others not so much (I’m looking at you, Caramel Macchiato and Candy Bar). I thought Halo Top could suggest a couple of flavors for me to try, but instead they surprised me by sending me nine pints — nine freaking pints! — directly to my door. And let me tell you, there’s something very special about ice cream delivery on a Friday afternoon.
That was three weeks ago, and I’m ready to share my findings. (Technically, we still have a tiny bit of ice cream left.)
Halo Top sent me four flavors in total: two Peanut Butter, two Vanilla Bean, two Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, two Sea Salt Caramel, and one Chocolate Mocha Chip. I got out my special ice cream spoon — it’s true, I really do have a preferred spoon for ice cream eating — and embarked on my own taste test.
I’m not a big fan of peanut butter. It can be too rich for me and can cause stomach issues; I’m beginning to wonder if this is inherited, as my father has a life-long allergy to peanut butter (not peanuts, just peanut butter). This is also a big reason I wasn’t a fan of the Candy Bar flavor from Halo Top; that ice cream pretty much nails the interior of a Snickers bar but without a larger portion of chocolate for balance, it was just too much for me. So the two pints of Peanut Butter went to M, and he was very happy about that.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough was an instant hit. Halo Top’s version is lighter and a little less sweet than the full-fat stuff made by other brands, and I think I actually like it better that way. We (mostly I) polished off those two pints in short order. The Vanilla Bean is also quite good; this is the same base as the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed it.
I was already a fan of Haagen-Dazs’s Sea Salt Caramel Gelato and expected to fall in love with the similar flavor from Halo Top, but it’s just all right. There isn’t as much depth of flavor as I’d like. I’d say it’s good enough in a pinch, but I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to seek out this particular ice cream.
I also had high hopes for the Chocolate Mocha Chip. I’m kind of a coffee ice cream snob, and I don’t even try to find good coffee ice cream anymore after Starbucks Classic Coffee fled the commercial freezer shelves. Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz is all right if you really need coffee ice cream right freaking now. The flavor of Halo Top’s Chocolate Mocha Chip tastes a bit muddy to me and like the Sea Salt Caramel, it lacks the depth that I’d hoped for. But these are low-calorie ice creams; they’re not going to taste the same as the “full on” stuff. I will say that the Chocolate Mocha Chip did start to grow on me, though. Apparently I just needed to go away for a couple of days and then come back to it.
In the meantime, I also purchased a pint of Halo Top’s Birthday Cake and downed that thing in two sittings over the course of twenty-four hours. That’s a flavor I’ll seek out again. I’d also like to try several other Halo Top flavors, particularly Strawberry, Pistachio, Black Cherry, Rainbow Swirl, Blueberry Crumble, Peaches & Cream, and Red Velvet.
The funny thing about this entire experience is that I’m not a big consumer of ice cream. It’s something that’s nice to have, but it’s not a staple of my diet and I don’t often seek it out. However, I’m obviously a little picky about what I like, and I’m grateful to Halo Top for providing these flavors for some at-home taste testing. This was an enjoyable and tasty distraction from the world at large.
What’s your favorite ice cream brand or flavor?
Saturday morning update::
As luck would have it, the grocery store miraculously had Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Caramel Fudge back in stock yesterday. Of course, I grabbed a pint, but I have to say that I like Halo Top’s Vanilla Bean better than the base vanilla ice cream in Ben & Jerry’s. I was even thinking of putting the B&J’s back in the freezer, but then I hit a vein of fudge and oh gods it is all about the fudge, and the caramel. But I ate only a small amount before putting it away. I’m liking the Halo Top better, and not just because I don’t feel like I’m clogging my arteries with every bite.