Saturday, November 8, 2014

READER REVIEW: Elliot's Review of McConnell's Pumpkin Pie

One of the phrases that is thrown around a lot in ice cream reviews is "quality base". What does that really mean? Does it mean the ingredients themselves are high quality? That they are processed carefully and purposefully to result in the best possible mouthfeel, stability, consistency and flavor? The more delicious ice cream I try, the more I appreciate the science of how these delights are built for our enjoyment. The ability to read a label is a valuable skill. Ingredients other than milk, cream, eggs and sugar such as gums, tapioca starch/syrups raise serious questions about a purveyors definition of artisan.

It's all about the sum of the parts. Who cares if you make all your own inclusions and churn a base with the most expensive all natural ingredients if the result is lacking? There is something magical about the ability to build an amazingly good ice cream using real skill and craftsmanship without relying on filers and chemicals for consistency, to increase shelf life and improve mouth feel. McConnell's is relying on the appeal of what's inside (and what’s not inside) their pints to win the hearts of ice cream lovers, rather than a heavy marketing budget, handwritten labels and off the wall flavors and designs. They set out to create a diverse stable of flavors that you'd want to eat all the time.

One of the pints I ordered online from McConnell's is a seasonal flavor - Pumpkin Pie. The freezer section abounds with pumpkin themed ice cream this time of year. I've tried flavors ranging from aggressively spiced nutmeg delivery systems to those crowded with dough pieces emulating a crust component. McConnell's' take on pumpkin pie marries ultra premium ice cream with a pumpkin pie filling, leaving the crust element out of the equation.

Many versions of pumpkin pie ice cream demand a textural element to shift the focus away from an average, gummy, overcooked, stabilized base. Upon tasting this version it becomes clear why the crust component was omitted. The ice cream is skillfully seasoned by a mix of classic spices and molasses proportioned by an epicure, chef Eva Ein. My immediate thought on first bite was that they realize they have one of the best sweet cream bases on the planet, and know to simply accentuate and highlight it rather than distract from it. I am sure they wouldn't be offended if those of us who love the crust element added our own crumble or topped our pie. I personally appreciate having every bit of this pint container full of ice cream.

Where Elliot Found It:
Elliot's Grade: A

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