One of my favorite family traditions is waking up on Christmas morning and having a fresh cinnamon bun straight out of the oven just before opening presents. My top food cravings have and likely will always be ice cream and cinnamon buns. Needless to say, the first time I saw Ben and Jerry’s made something called Cinnamon Buns I drove around like a madman to find it. This creation is simply described as Caramel ice cream with cinnamon bun dough & a cinnamon streusel swirl. At least with respect to self-proclaimed ice cream fanatics this is not only a top flavor by Ben and Jerry’s, but a top creation across the spectrum of super premium ice cream.
Upon removing the lid a faint smell of cinnamon is detectable in the light cream colored base. Showing great restraint, I’m able to avoid the noticeable swirl and cinnamon bun dough and try just the caramel ice cream. The base by itself is a masterpiece and unlike anything else I’ve ever had. It has a less dense nature than that typical of Ben and Jerry’s, which compliments the fluffy nature that one would associate with a fresh cinnamon bun. The caramel base is sweet but not overdone. Just the aroma of cinnamon and various spices are actually able to enhance the foundation just by being present which is not something I have experienced often.
Scraping off the surface layer of delicious base, the true nature of the pint begins to show itself. Hordes of cinnamon bun dough and massive swirls are seemingly unavoidable. After great debate, I decide to go for the swirl first. The cinnamon streusel swirl has the consistency of thick dulce de leche. The molasses- like syrup kicks my taste buds into overdrive. Classifying this as sweet or rich doesn’t begin to accurately describe the flavor profile. When combined with the caramel ice cream the design goal of a cinnamon bun is already achieved. This is possibly the only ice cream I have ever had in which I would be 100% satisfied without a mix-in that added a “firm” mouth feel. Luckily for me, and really anyone who enjoys ice cream, they decided to add in cinnamon bun dough. These nickel-sized dough balls are simply just that, chunks of pure cinnamon bun dough. There really isn’t much more to say. The texture is unlike that of the typical soft and slightly chewy chocolate chip cookie dough one would typically find. Instead these hunks of dough are partially frozen and noticeably more firm than I expected. While this may not sound like a good thing to some, I have to stress it is! Not only does it enhance the pint by adding a much different textural element but it captures cookie dough in the cold, firm state in which I think it is enjoyed best.
This pint only intensifies the deeper you dig. The swirls become larger and the cinnamon bun dough pieces become more abundant without ever drowning out the magnificent caramel base. Combining all 3 aspects in one spoonful captures the essence of a cinnamon bun even better than some bakeries are able to. My favorite part of Ben and Jerry’s is always the very bottom of the pint where mix-ins often take up 50% of the real estate. In Cinnamon Buns that number may actually be about 70% with whole spoonfuls of straight streusel swirl and bun dough. This is one that once you try will create a permanent spot for itself in your freezer.
Where Derek Found It: Giant Food
Derek's Grade: A