Our trip to Burlington, VT brought us to Ben & Jerry’s corporate offices and factory to see first-hand the process of creating ice cream. With the launch of their new vegan ice cream (non-dairy frozen dessert) line, Ben & Jerry’s invited us to try all 4 flavors on site! Of course, we were happy to oblige.
Note: Ben & Jerry’s cannot call their product “ice cream.” The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) in the U.S. defines ice cream as a product that contains a certain amount of (dairy) milkfat, of which you’ll find ZERO in this line. Therefore, it’s called non-dairy frozen dessert. But for the purposes of this blog post and because we want to, we’re calling it ICE CREAM.
With the launch of their vegan ice cream, Ben & Jerry released 4 flavors: 2 new and 2 familiar favorites. All are made with an almond milk base. Why almond milk, considering the number of nut allergens there are. Well, first of all, Ben & Jerry’s is not a nut-free facility. Many of their products already contain nuts. Secondly, in research & development over a 3-year period, Ben & Jerry’s found the greatest success in using almond milk because it had a neutral flavor and texture. If you were familiar with Ben & Jerry’s in your pre-vegan days, then you know that flavors and textures are bold in their products, meaning they have to be the right consistency to support the mix-in ingredients and the flavors need to be fully represented and not convoluted by the base.
As you can tell, we learned A LOT during our trip.
So, let’s get down to it. What did we love? What did we like? What did we shrug off? Here’s our review in order of Awesome to Ugh.
PB & Cookies. This is a special flavor just for the non-dairy line!
If an ice cream flavor could give you LIFE, it’s this one! It was hands-down the best of the log. Vanilla-flavord almond milk ice cream with a crunchy peanut butter swirl was AHHHMAZING! Then those chocolate creme sandwich cookies that flipped the concept of Cookies & Cream on its head. You didn’t get little itty bits of cookie, you got full-on cookie to bite into.
The ice cream itself was rich and somewhat creamy. Its slight lack in creaminess supported the cookie, which otherwise would have been lost. We were both very happy with this!
Coffee Caramel Fudge. Another special flavor for the non-dairy line!
Carlo LURVES coffee in all its forms. Me? I’m not so much of a coffee ice cream fan. It’s all about when the mood hits. However, the Caramel Coffee Fudge surprised me A LOT! It was the creamiest of the bunch. If you like caramel macchiatos, then you’ll definitely love this. Then to mix in those fudge chunks? Wow!!
So, what was missing from this one to not make it #1? Well, it could have used a bit more caramel and a bit more fudge. Carlo said it was “just right,” but he also felt PB & Cookies was better between the two.
Chunky Monkey. I was really excited about this being a vegan flavor. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed. The banana ice cream at first tasted great. Then it got a little chemically for me and was the least creamy.
I did like banana ice cream in the past (not NICE cream – I’m talking pre-vegan days). However, something seemed slightly not quite there for me with this one. I don’t know if it was the almonds and walnuts together. I think this one would have done better with a coconut base.
Chocolate Fudge Brownie
Oddly enough, the classics didn’t fare as well in their vegan form. The team at Ben & Jerry’s certainly acknowledged that the chocolate ice cream in the Chocolate Fudge Brownie needed some work. I have to say, as a chocolate lover, I do not chocolate almond milk ice cream. I’ve not liked it with other brands either. I find it gets really chalky with a strange after taste. The chocolate in coconut base would have done well in my opinion.
However, there is a redeeming quality about the Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and it’s the brownie! Those chunks are HUGE and have to be eaten on their own to taste how amazing they are (perfectly dense yet moist). Even though they were made for the Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor, those brownies could star in any ice cream base! We’ll have a fuller review on Greyston Bakery coming soon!
Have you tried the new Ben & Jerry’s flavors? Which one do you like? Tell us in the comments!
Not sure where to get it, check out Ben & Jerry’s website at http://benandjerrys.com/non-dairy.