As temperatures outside rise, so can cravings for a refreshing scoop of frozen deliciousness. Those who give in to the temptation and head to their local supermarket to buy a pint may be wise to do a bit of strategizing prior to the trip — or else plan on settling in and spending some time surveying an almost overwhelming variety of flavors, fat content and ingredients in cartons crowding the shelves of the freezer section.
Hoping to narrow the selection a bit, the Chronicle staff tasted five varieties of traditional ice cream, three non-dairy frozen desserts, one gelato, one sorbet and one mochi. Granted, we were not exactly comparing apples to oranges, so to speak, but it did make for a pretty sweet afternoon.
Here’s what we found.
Bubbies Mochi, Premium Ice Cream Wrapped in Sweet Rice Dough, Green Tea Flavor (kosher, dairy)
The name “Bubbies” may conjure images of your grandma’s kitchen, but these bite-sized treats are a far cry from anything my bubbie ever made. These Hawaiian-made ice cream disks are wrapped in gluten-free rice dough and sweetened with natural ingredients. They come in a variety of flavors, including blueberry, chocolate coconut and mango. We chose to sample the green tea flavor.
Our tasters said:
• “I was prepared to hate it, but I would possibly try it again because I like the dough and the ice cream together. It would be better without the green tea.”
• “Fabulous! A subtle, perfect combination, where the slight tartness of the green tea balances the slight sweetness of the ice cream, all enveloped by the rice.”
• “Green tea has no place in ice cream.”
Chill pop, frozen fruit pops, Avocado Mint Chip (certified vegan)
Made with coconut milk, this ice pop was poised to be a crowd-pleaser amongst the Chronicle crowd, most of us being coconut fans. Uh, not so much. Six testers together could not even finish one pop, although one outlier seemed to like it.
• “This one is interesting. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. It’s really unusual and different, and you won’t think it’s just plain vanilla ice cream, that’s for sure.”
• “If it wasn’t cold and it wasn’t sweet, it would have been disgusting. I didn’t think the mint and the avocado went well together.”
Ben & Jerry’s, Americone Dream (kosher, dairy)
Now, you’re talking. Not only is this creamy confection — which boasts vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered cone pieces and a caramel swirl — traditionally tasty but proceeds from its sale go to the Stephen Colbert AmeriCone Dream Fund, which supports charities such as food and medical assistance for disadvantaged children.
• “Creamy, rich, chocolate, crunchy — pretty much everything you’d want in an ice cream.”
• “I don’t like vanilla ice cream, but I liked everything else about it, especially the fudge-covered waffle cones.”
• “Pretty, pretty good.”
Klein’s “Select K,” Chocol’e (kosher, chalav yisrael)
This “premium chocolate ice cream,” is part of a brand that is family-owned and churned in Brooklyn. If you’re looking for chalav yisrael ice cream, this may be your go-to, but not all of our tasters were impressed.
• “I thought it was delicious! It tasted like a Fudgesicle.”
So Delicious, Cashewmilk non-dairy frozen dessert, Snickerdoodle (kosher, pareve)
Filled with tiny bits of gluten-free snickerdoodle cookie dough, this cinnamon-flavored cashew-based confection drew mixed reviews from our tasters, some appreciating the bold flavors, with others finding the cinnamon a bit too strong.
• “This texturally resembles real ice cream. It’s nutty, and you can definitely taste the cashew base. I don’t think the cinnamon is overwhelming.”
• “It tasted good. It tasted a lot like a snickerdoodle.”
With only 100 calories per serving, this flavorful sorbet is a dieter’s dream. The verdict was not unanimous, but several tasters described this iced treat as “refreshing.”
• “Intense blueberry and passionfruit flavor; it’s delicious.”
• “Nice change from ice cream.”
• “There was a tartness which I typically enjoy when eating sorbet.”
Phil and Bill’s Ice Cream, The Shayna (kosher, chalav yisrael)
This rich ice cream has been made in small batches on Murray Avenue in Greenfield, by two local guys — Phil and Bill — since 2014. The Shayna is hazelnut coffee ice cream with chunks of cookie dough batter.
• “I really liked it. The ice cream tasted really fresh with bright flavors.”
• “Creamy and rich. The cookie dough batter adds a nice twist to the deep coffee flavor.”
• “I didn’t like it; I don’t like coffee.”
Halo Top, Oatmeal Cookie (kosher, dairy equipment)
You can eat the whole pint of this dairy-free frozen dessert and only rack up 280 calories, but I’m not sure you’d want to. Made with coconut milk, many of Halo Top’s flavors are outstanding — such as Pancakes and Waffles — but the Oatmeal Cookie variety scored mostly a “meh” from our group.
• “This tastes like Play-Do smells.”
• “This is acceptable only if you are
forced to have pareve.”
• “If you’re hungry for cold oats, this is it.”
Enlightened, Mint Chocolate Chip (kosher, dairy)
Sweetened with monk fruit and erythritol, which are all-natural, zero calorie sweeteners, this ice cream is made from skim milk and has only 80 calories per serving. Its creamy texture makes it hard to distinguish from full-fat.
• “It’s really surprisingly good for a low-cal ice cream, and the chocolate chips have a surprisingly good flavor.”
• “Tastes like full-fat mint chip ice cream.”
• “I liked it; it was fine.”
Graeter’s, Buckeye Blitz (kosher, dairy)
This small-batch ice cream is hand-packed by a Cincinnati-based company and seems to have a bit of a cult following. Buckeye Blitz is a tribute to Ohio’s famous buckeye candy, and the ice cream features a blend of peanut butter, cocoa, peanut butter cookie dough and bittersweet chocolate chips.
• “I could totally binge on this. The peanut butter is outstanding.”
• “Graeter’s is great.”
• “I loved it, but I have a soft spot for buckeyes.”
Talenti gelato, Sicilian Pistachio (kosher, dairy)
Talenti gelato had its roots in Argentina in the 1990s, where its creator learned his craft before bringing it back to the States. The flavor of this intense gelato is created using roasted Sicilian pistachios, and blended with pistachio butter and fresh milk, sugar and cream. This gelato fetched mixed reviews among our tasters, some of whom were more enamored with the reusable carton than the dessert itself.
• “It’s sublime, and unlike some of the other ice creams we tasted, it’s not ungapatchka.”
• “I love the packaging, and the understated pistachio flavor is divine.”
• “Not a fan, but great packaging.”
A quick poll, admittedly tainted by brain freeze and a sugar rush, revealed the following results: Three of our six tasters picked the Graeter’s Buckeye Blitz as their favorite (one of those three said that the Graeter’s tied with the Ciao Bella Sorbeto); two chose the Talenti gelato; and our token dairy adverse staffer cast his ballot for the So Delicious, Cashewmilk Snickerdoodle. PJC
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.