Friday, March 9, 2012

Häagen-Dazs Class of 2012

In recent years, Häagen-Dazs has opted to offer an annual selection of "Limited Edition" flavors, treating the introduction of new flavors as a market test. This year they offer four new flavors: the three below and Vanilla Bean Espresso, which interests me about as much as Knucklehair ice cream.

Spiced Caramel Biscuit - When I saw the word "speculoos" on a pint of ice cream, I got so excited I began weeping loudly and tossing dollar bills at the freezer. This behavior was also due to some confusion I felt: I could plainly see the Belgian s-word written in 8-point font on the side of the container, but the flavor was called "caramel biscuit" when speculoos is a cinnamon cookie. After being escorted out of the grocery store, I gave it a try: a buttery ice cream (allegedly caramel-flavored) with enough cookies per bite to have some that were softened, some that were crunchy and some that were crystally in the way only speculoos can be. Despite a misleading name, a truly enjoyable flavor worthy of trying.

Salted Caramel Truffle - The bougie trend of adding salt to caramels is one I've been known to indulge in once or twice, but I swear it was morbid curiosity and not a need for dessert performance enhancements. The word caramel is enough to make me try most anything, regardless of the spice obstacles I must endure. But now the trend has extended beyond the neighborhood scoop shops and into the grocery aisle. This new flavor has an acceptable balance, giving a clear salty & sweet flavor on first taste of the sweet-cream ice cream and caramel swirl, but an overall sweet aftertaste. The major letdown are the "truffles," which taste like the post-holiday discount candy that's still sitting around a week later. (A look at the ingredients list shows that cocoa is the ninth ingredient in the "truffles.")

Coconut Macaroon - Perfect for the Häagen-Dazs brand, this stand-out flavor is simple, delicate, creamy and a new twist in an old favorite. Like a macaroon, the ice cream is both a little oily and a little buttery. The macaroon mix-in is both brittle and chewy. There is both the taste of shredded coconut (the subtle ice cream) and toasted coconut (the mix-in). Easily my favorite of the new flavors.

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