I’ve been contemplating for weeks what ice cream I should write my first review on. Should it be my first taste of a new brand or flavor, or should I simply indulge in one of my favorites. I tend to be a mix- in junky, so my freezer is generously stocked with Ben and Jerry’s at all times. For this one I reached for a flavor that has remained in my top 5 since the first time I tried it. Ben and Jerry’s What a Cluster is described as Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Caramel Cluster Pieces, Marshmallow Swirls & Peanut Butter Swirls. At 320 calories per serving it packs a punch, but it's not unexpected given that peanut butter is present in both the base and mix-ins.
Upon removing the lid, 3 of the 4 components are already making themselves known. Having had this flavor countless times before I knew what to expect, but I dig in the peanut butter base by itself to build the base line. The base has a light brown hue and a faint, but distinguishable, nutty aroma. If you’ve never had Ben and Jerry’s peanut butter base before get in the car and remedy the situation right now. No I’m not joking. This review will be here when you get back. In my opinion they have the best peanut butter base available, and aside from arguably their milk chocolate is the best base they offer. It’s smooth and packed with peanut butter flavor. Notes of both sweet and salty play off one another without either being predominant or overbearing. It’s truly art in ice cream form. The peanut butter swirls themselves add another level to the decant base. The hard, brittle texture offsets the base perfectly and adds a more intense salty peanut butter flavor. The caramel clusters were abundant upon removing the lid, but after the initial layer the ice cream becomes littered with them.
These clusters are hard to describe. They have a rather unexpected chewy texture and their various sizes provide a different mouth feel with each bite. I would best describe them as sugar coated oats, but that doesn’t do them justice. I’m not sure it’s possible to describe how or why these work so well in the overall theme of a “fluffernutter” but they certainly do. The marshmallow taste is always prevalent, but a ribbon of swirl by itself can sometimes be elusive. Half way down the pint is when the marshmallow swirl, and the whole pint as a whole, kicks into overdrive. As you can see by the white, fluffy pool in the front of the picture it is possible to find one of these swirls.
By itself the marshmallow is as expected, extremely sweet and gooey. As the pint begins to melt the marshmallow seems to blend in with the liquefied ice cream that forms around the edges, creating a sweet liquid addition that offsets the slightly salty base and peanut butter swirls. The abundance of mix-ins at the bottom of the pint are why I ultimately decided to select this as my first review. The peanut butter swirl and caramel clusters are in every single bite and when combined with the liquid marshmallow and base truly make a unique ice cream experience. No other ice cream brand that I know of has attempted a flavor like this and to be fair they shouldn’t try. When you get it perfect on your first try there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
Where Derek Found It: Giant Food
Derek's Grade: A