Thursday, March 26, 2015

Freezer Favs: FatBoy's Key Lime Pie-wich

While this blog is primarily a fan of local scoop shops, it acknowledges that sometimes a person just wants to stay in for the night. That being said, this is one of my Freezer Favorites.

• • •

Being a dessert blogger, I am often asked about my favorite [fill in the blank]. Occasionally I'm stumped, as is the case whenever folks ask me a less-readily-available member of the dessert canon: "Where is the best key lime pie?" Living in the often frozen Chicago climate where tropical desserts are rarely in season, I'm afraid my key lime pie palate is unrefined.

I've had the dessert enough times to know it can be bright green or off-white. It can be sweet-sour or mouth-puckering sour. It can be covered in whipped cream or not. And it is made with a graham cracker crust. It can be many things, but whenever I've ordered it, what I am served rarely defies or surpasses my expectations, even in my trips to Florida.

Enter FatBoy Ice Cream Sandwiches, a Utah-based ice cream novelty maker whose products are available all over the U.S. Fruity, tart and rich, this is the best form of key lime pie I have consumed, besting all proper pies. Just my opinion, but key lime pie aficionados take note and give this a try.

Let's dig in deeper: What I want most out of a summer treat is a cooling sensation, and obviously ice cream accomplishes that. At the same time, I don't want something too heavy, so an ice cream novelty is the perfect size potion. At first, I started thinking about how I missed the snap of the graham cracker crust...until I realized what I was eating was making more of a flavorful contribution than a frozen graham cracker would. Trust the experts.

UPDATE: Having compared the two, FatBoy's is superior to Ciao Bella brand's Key Lime Pie gelato sandwiches. FatBoy's have a greater punch of citrus.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bobtail Year 2: A Dream of Spring

Not pictured: cursing commuters.
March is month ten of Bobtail Year 2, during which I receive two pints of homemade ice cream a month from Bobtail.

• • •

Ah, spring. The season when Chicagoans cycle back to the beginning of the five stages of grief: denial. Usually there's a week or two of nice weather that arrives very suddenly. It starts with the sheets of ice on the sidewalks melting away into frosty puddles. Then the mounds of snow start to decrease in size, dwindling down to the permafrost layer that, by this point is several months old. Then the period known as "autumn's shame" begins, when the last bit of snow melts away, exposing all the garbage and dog poop that were left waiting beneath. And for a brief moment, all evidence points to the end of the bitter winter. Heh heh.

Witnessing this spectacle of climatory cruelty are millions of people breathing a little easier, smiling considerably more and joking about the aforementioned dog poop. To them, any full day in the thirties feels like a blessing of Biblical proportions. Once it hits 40 degrees, heavy jackets give way to light sweaters and there's some dude walking around in shorts. Optimistic individuals remark about how nice the weather is, while pessimists/Floridians say it is still cold and realists feel Cassandra-like inclinations to warn that the worst is yet to come. But first it gets better, jumping into the 50s--this year we actually entered the 70s for a day. There's a collective sigh in the city as everyone starts to think, "Maybe this is it. Maybe spring has actually arrived with the equinox."

Then we receive the biggest snow in seven weeks.

If I weren't a brick wall deflecting all emotion, this might just break me. Just in case, what were those stages K├╝bler-Ross says I should expect next?

It is this hope of a brighter (and warmer) day that we must consider when pondering a spoonful of Bobtail's latest flavor, A Dream of Spring, lemon ice cream with graham crackers and mixed berries. One small bite and we taste a refreshing hint of sunny citrus. The way the graham cracker dust soaks into the lemon ice cream adds a nostalgic feel that summer always evokes for those foolish enough to live this far north. And the frozen, whole berries waiting within are the perfect ice cubes for my daydream lemonade. A dream of spring, indeed. When I closed my eyes and took a bite, I almost believed it was safe to go outdoors.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bobtail Year 2: Salted Caramel Pretzel

February was month nine of Bobtail Year 2, during which I received two pints of homemade ice cream a month from Bobtail.

• • •

Pretzels are among the finest savory foods to crossover to sweet. (Bad news: They often go soft in ice cream. Good news: The solution is covering them in chocolate before mixing them in.) Most manufacturers name their flavor chocolate covered pretzel, then foolishly choose a vanilla base instead of chocolate; a more accurate name would be vanilla-covered-chocolate-covered pretzel. In Bobtail's infinite wisdom, they have chosen a different direction, focusing on the caramel-dipped pretzel as inspiration.

The assumption around a flavor called Salted Caramel Pretzel would be that the ice cream base would be caramel-flavored. I was surprised when it wasn't, but again in their infinite wisdom, Bobtail went a different direction. It is a sweet cream ice cream with lots of runny caramel drizzled throughout. If a person were looking for the perfect ratio of caramel, this would be the example to go by. Every bite has some caramel in it, but not enough to change from the subtle sweet cream base to caramel. And the salt in the caramel is light, not overpowering. So before we've even gotten to the pretzels, this flavor is a success!

I wish there had been more pretzels mixed-in, but that's hardly a criticism anymore since I've said that about every pretzel ice cream I've ever eaten. But the pretzels that are there maintain their crunch(!) and the chocolate coating is tasty. Tasting the pretzel mix-in with the runny caramel in the sweet cream base is rapturous, which is to say something so good it turns you into an insatiable raptor.

Another fine month for Bobtail ice cream.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

X-Rated Ben & Jerry's (NSFW)

Parody of original cow and cloud image by Woody Jackson.
(c) Woody Jackson and (c) Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc.
***If this post is ever referenced in a job interview, please know that it was posted without Brad's knowledge by a friend who hacked into his blog.***

Though they've never shied away from a double entendre, Ben & Jerry's took offense that an adult film company has beat them at their game. Until a court order put a stop to it, interested consumers could buy DVDs from Ben & Cherry's adorned with familiar and friendly cows-and-clouds artwork and parody titles of flavors. Most articles will mention the titles Peanut Butter D-Cups, New York Fat & Chunky, Chocolate Fudge Babes and Boston Cream Thighs. What most articles won't mention are the other titles, which I managed to find (the titles, not the films): Hairy Garcia, Americone Cream, Banana Cl*t, Coconut 7 Lay-Her Bar, Everything But the...Butt and Late Night Sn*tch.

Given that Ben & Jerry's has flavors called Karamel Sutra and Schweddy Balls, my guess is the real plan was to sue the porn company into bankruptcy so Ben & Jerry's could hire their creative head to help name new flavors. And what a fun job that would be. With this mind, my friends and I have porn-ified some of the names of existing flavors:
  • Hubby's Chubby
  • Chunking the Monkey
  • S'mwh*res
  • New York Super Fudge Spunk
  • Heath's Bare Crotch
  • Coconut Seven Layer Wh*re
  • Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Shag
  • Everything but the...Nuts!
  • Boston Cream of Some Young Guy -or- Bustin' Cream Pie
  • Imagine Earl's Piece
  • Crotchy Crotch Crotch
  • Americondom Dream -or- AmeriBone Dream
  • All Ova Macadamia
  • Jamaica Me Horny
  • Red Vulva Cake
  • Banana's Spit
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie H*es
  • Dublin Astroglide
  • Black & Man
  • Country Peach Gobbler
  • From Russia with Balls
  • Mission to Marcy's Pants
  • CinnaMAN Buns -or- Cinnamon Buns on Fire Part 6: Extra Cream Filling
In case you need a list of the flavor names for reference, they are in order: Chubby Hubby, Chunky Monkey, S'mores, New York Super Fudge Chunk, Heath Bar Crunch, Coconut Seven Layer Bar, Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Snack, Everything But The..., Boston Cream Pie, Imagine Whirled Peace, Scotchy Scotch Scotch, Americone Dream, Aloha Macadamia, Jamaica Me Crazy (sorbet), Red Velvet Cake, Banana Split, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Dublin Mudslide, Black & Tan, Country Peach Cobbler, From Russia with Buzz, Mission to Marzipan and Cinnamon Buns.

Good luck not thinking about any of this next time you're spooning a pint.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Flavor Battle: Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl

Chocolate and peanut butter are not my go-to combination, but every so often I get the craving for such an ice cream. When I get the craving, I have to ask myself if I want peanut butter cup or peanut butter swirl. This week, I wanted that hardened splotch of peanut butter that takes strong hacks from a spoon to cut through. I wanted peanut butter swirl. To meet this craving, I bought two pints, both alike in dignity: Oberweis' Chocolate Peanut Butter and Baskin-Robbins' Peanut Butter with Chocolate. Here's how they matched up:

Baskin-Robbins' Peanut Butter 'N Chocolate is dark, rich, full. Eating it, the entire mouth is coated with each bite, stuck to the roof, floor and walls of your mouth. The chocolate is rich enough that the peanut butter (also rich!) doesn't completely overpower while making its presence known.

Oberweis' Chocolate Peanut Butter has both a milk chocolate flavor and appearance. It doesn't dig in deep like the Baskin-Robbins flavor, choosing instead to have the lightness of a Wendy's Frosty. The peanut butter tastes less sweetened here, though, which complements the sweeter ice cream well.

Something that both of these flavors have going for them is that they celebrate chocolate with equal acclaim to the peanut butter, instead of making the common mistake of peanut butter cup ice creams of hosting them in vanilla ice cream. (That's not peanut butter cup ice cream; that's ice cream with peanut butter cups in it.)

In the end, I liked trying both and seeing how different the exact same flavor could be. I encourage you to do the same! But there can only be one winner, and that was Baskin-Robbins, whose flavor was decadent like fudge topping, filling the entire mouth with flavor.