Sunday, August 4, 2013

READER REVIEW: Kenneth's Review of Ben & Jerry's Berry Voluntary (Target Exclusive)

Before my most recent visit to Target, I bought one of their exclusive Ben & Jerry's flavors, Brownie Chew Gooder, on a whim. As luck would have it, purchasing said pint brought me a coupon for $2.50 off three Ben & Jerry's pints. Since there were three other store-specific flavors to obtain, along with a 2 for $6 deal going on, a subsequent visit was inevitable. Brownie Chew Gooder more than earned my highest recommendation, so the remaining flavors got their work cut out for them. First up: Berry Voluntary.

My immediate feelings toward Berry Voluntary stemmed from its unexcitable name. It's a bit difficult to imagine a unique and indulgent ice cream when it merely proclaims "Berry" in the title. The description of raspberry cheesecake ice cream with raspberry swirls and white chocolate chunks does, however, ignite my interest. One of my favorite desserts is actually white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, so I'm hoping the tried and true standards of Ben & Jerry's will justify this replication.

Pulling the lid off reveals a particularly long trench, something I tend to decry at first sight. Otherwise, the visual feast amounts to a pale ice cream with light maroon patches, which I assume are splashes of blood from accidents in Ben & Jerry's creameries. Raspberry swirls are also a possibility. Patient feasters will be more likely to pick up on the distinct cheesecake scent, which becomes increasingly prominent the further you dig. Cheesecake doesn't have a very sharp flavor, but is often distinguished by its soft, solid texture. As a result, my initial tasting of Berry Voluntary is riddled with confusion. Though raspberry is incorporated through various swirls, they persist through each and every bite. It's clear that the cheesecake base is meant to help accentuate the oft-telling tartness raspberries are known for.

After some repeated tasting, I'm able to taste cheesecake in the base, as opposed to what I first thought was just a slight variation of vanilla. And yet I still feel underindulged. Hope then rests on the touted white chocolate chunks to volunteer their services. I love white chocolate, but also realize its limitations in having a fairly mellow, yet still sweet flavor. In this case, such a sweetness has potential to improve the whole experience, but is ultimately diminished by textural issues. The number of chunks are moderate at best, which is likely because they're so large (nickel and quarter size). Due to their mass and hard texture, encountering them becomes a half-pleasant experience. I quickly long to see more variety not only to the size of these chunks, but their actual consistency.

If a smooth, white chocolate swirl were incorporated alongside the raspberry swirls, this could have been a far more satisfactory pint. As it stands, Berry Voluntary offers quality ingredients with nuances of something greater, but little beyond wishful thoughts. Slowly chewing the white chocolate chunks after letting the ice cream sit was, ultimately, the best approach for satisfaction. Unfortunately, by the time I was about 3/4 through the pint, I'd excavated the last of these sugary stiffs, leaving me with blasé remnants.

Where Kenneth Found It: Target
Kenneth's Grade: C


  1. I tried this flavor a few months ago and thought it was just okay. When I eat the Blueberry Cheesecake (I do admit it's one of my favorites cause I'm a sucker for blueberries and that addicting graham cracker crust) flavor I don't get a lot of blueberry. When trying to the Berry Voluntary I didn't taste a lot of raspberry but the white chocolate, though a bit sweeter than I expected, made up for it. I'll most likely try it again as I try to give most flavors a second chance.

    1. I agree with that summary, especially the Blueberry Cheesecake > Berry Voluntary part.


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