When the Ice Cream Informant posted his recent Blue Bell "freezer find", a brand new flavor introduced for January called "I ♥ Chocolate", i almost pitched my cookies. The official description just seemed so scrumptious: I ♥ Chocolate is a smooth Milk Chocolate Ice Cream combined with luscious dark chocolate-filled chocolate hearts, chocolate-coated cake pieces and a chocolate icing swirl. Wow! So i immediately dashed out to several grocers to acquire a tub, only to be told this week's deliveries hadn't arrived yet. Finally, a stop at a local Target hit pay-dirt.
Tearing off the lid, I was met by an initially unimpressive sight: Basically a smooth surface of light-brown chocolate ice cream with a smattering of syrup, the alleged "chocolate icing swirl". But, this initial look proved to be prodigiously deceiving: As soon as the spoon dug through the top layer, this seemingly featureless sheen of chocolate ice cream quickly gave way to a maelstrom of mix-ins, a pile of the promised cake chunks, chocolate hearts, and icing!
This ice cream tastes as good as it looks. The base is a milk-chocolate, a flavor I am very partial too. This smooth and creamy base is an excellent background for the stronger flavors of the mix-ins. The hearts are large hard-shelled candies that give way to a softer chocolate center. The chocolate icing swirl has a strong caramel aspect, in both its chewy, elastic consistency and its delicious flavor. Best of all are the chunks of cake. These chunks are NOT the bland, small, seemingly machine-made disc-shaped pieces of cake that Blue Bell has begun to use in flavors like Birthday Cake, rather these are the massive, irregularly shaped chunks one finds in their Dessert Trio flavor (check out the second frame from right in the following picture for an isolated view of a heart and a cake chunk). These huge ragged chunks provided an aesthetically pleasurable chomping experience, as the crusty coating gives way to the soft moist chocolate cake within. And because these cake chunks and hearts are in such abundant supply, just about every spoonful has one or the other, and often both! This ice cream is crammed with mix-ins!
Overall, "I ♥ Chocolate" is an outstanding ice cream, right up there with Caramel Turtle Cheesecake as my favorite Blue Bell offering. The creamy milk chocolate of the base, the medium chocolate of the hearts, the richer dark chocolate of the cake, and the caramel-chocolate of the swirl create a chocolate smorgasbord in the mouth. I know that some aficionados will never agree that a 210-calorie per serving semi-premium ice cream can truly pack the same flavor punch as a 300+ calorie super-premium, but in my view this one does just that.
Where Steve Found It: Target (Baton Rouge, LA)
Steve's Grade: A