Monday, May 19, 2014

READER REVIEW: Steve's Review of New Orleans Ice Cream Co. Praline Crunch

It's about time I tried an offering from the New Orleans Ice Cream Co. (NOICC). For one thing, I live within an hour's drive of that city, and for another, the Ice Cream Informant has sampled many of its flavors, usually with very positive reviews. So putting aside my usual Blue Bell weekend fix, I decided to invest in a pint of Praline Crunch. NOICC describes Praline Crunch as our delicately flavored praline ice cream with crunchy whole caramel pecans. Since this is indeed a "N'awlins favorite", I was eager to plunge the spoon in!

Peeling back the lid, I was initially rather underwhelmed. The ice cream appeared to have the cinnamon-brown color of pralines (a good thing!), but was otherwise featureless. No evidence of the promised whole caramel pecans. But upon tasting, I was much more satisfied. The base ice cream is outstanding. It has a rich, creamy texture and is loaded with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavors characteristic of a high-quality praline. I got the sensation of biting into the ice cream version of a gourmet praline of the kind one can find at Southern Candymaker's or Aunt Sally's on Decatur Street down in the Big Easy. Also, the caramel pecans were butter-sweet to the tongue. The total concoction was a delicious treat not only for the mouth but also the nose. The wife and I noticed that an hour after the pint was gone, our den was still filled with the aroma of pecan praline.

Nevertheless, my experience with this pint was not entirely positive. There were ice particles in some scoops that suggested freezer burn, and the pecans tended to be clustered near the bottom of the pint, suggesting settling as a result of a melt/refreeze process that could have occurred during transport or store refrigeration. So despite the generally delicious taste, perhaps I really didn't get to try this flavor at its freshest best. And, even accounting for the settling, Praline Crunch was disappointing in terms of mix-in quantity. There just were not a whole lot of the promised caramel pecans, and as tasty as the base is, I always want a lot of mix-ins. Also, rather than being "whole" pecans, as promised, these nuts were on the smallish side and there were many halves and pieces. Is Praline Crunch an excellent ice cream? Yes, but in my view not quite up to the highest level.

Where Steve Found It: Winn-Dixie (Baton Rouge, LA)
Steve's Grade: B

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