Ben & Jerry's have made a few appearances in my freezer this year, but none of them really hit that top-of-the-line mark. In fact, one of these flavors, the elusive Mint Chocolate Cookie, struck nothing but blase notes . After one of my friends let me indulge a bit in his Half Baked pint (I have my ways), I knew it was time to experience another Ben & Jerry's classic. A recent shopping excursion brought the whim out of me as I snatched Brownie Chew Gooder, one of four Target-exclusive flavors.
Something that makes me cautious with many sweet treats is the inclusion of caramel. There are times it's used to terrific effect, oftentimes when combined with other ingredients so that it doesn't dominate. However, sometimes it can feel too dominant, with messiness turning savory indulgence into a frustrating chore (looking at you, Hershey Kisses). So when I read the description of "Vanilla Caramel Ice Cream…& a Caramel Swirl," concern did come to mind. Yet a part-vanilla base with brownies has me hopeful, even if the nutritional content is rather tame for Ben & Jerry's--seriously, how does their standard Vanilla ice cream have more fat than this?
Letting my spoon greet the pint brings me to a VERY stringy initial scoop. The caramel literally threads itself apart, not unlike mozzarella sticks do when torn. I bite and savor what can best be described as an explosion of caramel flavor. Stringy caramel alone was a pleasant surprise, but the taste is actually well balanced. Credit must be given for the use of vanilla in the base, since it makes for a good, mild foundation to build upon. The base also has no trouble softening up, so that I have no intrusion on my way to the bottom of the package. Because of this, the use of caramel in the base is a bit mellow which, combined with many chunks of chewy brownies, means even the profuse caramel swirl avoids being too much.
While it hasn't been too long since Ben & Jerry's last graced my freezer, it certainly feels that way. And I think that has to do with the fact no classics have been here since, well, ever (Half Baked, Phish Food and Boston Cream Pie were college-time purchases). It's a bit disheartening for me to see not many people know or fully enjoy Brownie Chew Gooder, but as long as it remains a permanent inclusion, I think I'll let the Scoop Shop exclusives slide. For now.
Where Kenneth Found It: Target
Kenneth's Grade: A