Wednesday, September 25, 2013

READER REVIEW: Matt's Review of Landliebe Schokolade (German Exclusive)

And now for something completely different...

Greetings from Germany! As a Virginia and Boston-centered reader of the Informant over the last year, I like to feel that my appreciation of ice cream in all of its forms, flavors, and brands has expanded exponentially. Through this site, I have discovered some amazing brands like 2nd St. Creamery, High Road, and (best of all) Blue Bell, and I was able to avoid falling victim to the horror that is “Frozen Dessert.” Needless to say, I feel like I owe this site a great debt for what it has given me, but I never really knew what I could do in return. I never thought to submit reviews for my own favorite flavors (Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter World, Blue Bell’s Mint Cookies n’ Cream, and Turkey Hill’s Blitzburgh Crunch, respectively), mainly because I feared that there wasn’t anything that I could say about them that hadn’t already been said.

...It’s amazing what a three-month relocation overseas for work can bring! I noticed in the past that the Informant has never had international ice cream reviews, and I thought it would be fun to submit some for the brands that I try while I’m living out here. Hopefully they will be fun to read, and even moreso, can act as a guide to European brands if/when any of you take a trip across the pond.

With the introduction over, let’s delve into my first flavor review, German-based Landliebe’s “Schockolade”!

Now, the first thing I noticed when picking up a package at the store was Landliebe’s written commitment to quality. Not only is this 1.5 pint package made with all-natural milk and cream, they boast about being completely non-processed in terms of flavors. As one who is only too used to the sometimes overtly-fake flavors of typical U.S. brands, this is a welcome sight indeed. The flavor is also listed as being (roughly translated), “The finest chocolate ice cream made from cream and crunchy, refined chocolate pieces and hazelnut chips.” Enough waiting, let’s open this thing!

Immediately, I can smell the strong flavor of chocolate come out of the package. Already, I can see small pieces of chocolate and hazelnut peaking out from the top layer, along with a little bit of white cream. Before I even think to load my bowl up, I take a heaping spoonful straight from the container.

It’s like I’ve bitten into the ice cream variant of a Hostess Cupcake! The chocolate, much like the other kinds I’ve had so far in Germany, has a much stronger flavor profile than its American variant. As a little bit of background, European chocolate, in general, contains a higher cocoa bean level than what we are used to in the states, along with being mixed with fattier butters and creams. In return, though, there is a much lower amount of sugar, which allows for the cocoa flavor to really flourish and develop.

This can be easily tasted within the ice cream. As a simple base, it would match up favorably against such titans as Graeter’s or Ben & Jerry’s, although I would describe the texture as more “premium” than “super-premium”. The large swirls of cream, however, really take this flavor to the next level, giving it an extra bit of richness and flavor that U.S. manufacturers would be smart to imitate. Unlike the typical mix of chocolate-vanilla ice creams, the cream here only serves to accentuate the chocolate’s delicious flavor, rather than trying to compete with it.

Along with this, the crunch of the chocolate and hazelnut chips can be felt with every bite, though unfortunately their flavor gets lost within the incredibly strong base. It doesn’t help that each piece is so tiny, that it’s almost impossible to tell when you have one in your spoon until you’ve bitten in. As a visual aid, I was finally able to isolate one onto my spoon.

Overall, this was a fantastic first go-around with German chocolate ice cream. The flavor was top-notch, and has definitely secured a return trip to the brand. Unfortunately, the miniature mix-ins and their lack of difference-making taste really prevents this flavor from going the distance.

Matt's Grade: B

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