Julia, a co-worker, loves chocolate but refuses to purchase it in America. She says that even foreign-made chocolate, such as Lindt, tastes different when purchased in America because the companies manufacture products differently when they are sold in America. Knowing I rarely choose milk chocolate over dark, she declared I would have a more balanced chocolate diet if the American milk chocolate tasted like what is produced in other countries.
To prove this, the next day Julia brought me a Lindt Milk Chocolate candy bar she recently purchased in Europe. As promised, it was completely different from other Lindt milk chocolate I had eaten. It was creamy, soft, and punched you in the face with its flavor, with none of the slightly sour aftertaste of the American variety.
Julia said she wasn’t impressed with American chocolate ice cream either. I felt it my responsibility to open her eyes as she had mine. “Look no further than Häagen-Dazs,” I told her. “Don’t let the umlaut fool you. They are and always have been American.”
Häagen Dazs, I explained, has 4 of the best chocolate options available in grocery stores:
1.) Mayan Chocolate. Indulge in a pint of history as you eat bite after bite of “the original chocolate,” as believed to have been eaten by the Mayans. This rich chocolate has cinnamon spices and a fudge-cinnamon swirl. Sometimes it is featured in a “Limited Edition” package; other times it is not. Play it safe and buy some now in case it goes away!
2.) Triple Chocolate. Though I confess I cannot determine what the third chocolate is, I’m perfectly content with the two I can taste: Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream and pieces of dark chocolate truffle mixed in. This is not the first chocolate truffle ice cream, but is the best one I can find in Seattle. On the East Coast, I used to get my fix buying a pint of Chocolate Truffle Explosion (Edy’s Dreamery, Dryer’s Inc.) or a half-gallon of Forbidden Chocolate Explosion (Friendly’s).
3.) Amazon Valley Chocolate. This new selection is part of the Häagen Dazs Reserve Series. Its distinctive flavor comes from the “Criollo cocoa bean [which] gives this ice cream its intense and nutty flavor.” This is the closest thing to the flavor and texture of gelato I have ever experienced from the grocery store freezer. Such a powerful chocolate flavor—the taste grows in your mouth after you’ve swallowed—and a soft, creamy texture. It isn’t gelato, but someone who’s never had gelato could start here.
4.) Belgian Chocolate. Currently a “Limited Edition” flavor in the grocery store, this is a regular in Häagen-Dazs scoop shops. I can honestly say this is my favorite ice cream flavor of all time. Each bite is half chocolate ice cream and half shaved Belgian dark chocolate. Some of my friends feel the flavor is too rich, but for me it is perfect. Make sure when you purchase it to not eat it straight out of the freezer; it must be indulged in at a soft consistency to unlock the full flavor.
Note from 2012: Sadly none of these flavors are available in grocery store pints. In fact, I think Belgian Chocolate is the only one that is still offered in scoop shops. In general, it seems that since the collapse of the housing market, there simply aren't as many chocolate ice cream flavors being offered anywhere.