Monday, December 1, 2014

READER REVIEW: Elliot's Review of New Orleans Ice Cream Co. Mint Chocolate Cookie and Cherries Jubilee

New Orleans Ice Cream Company is a brand that has a special place in my heart. In a world of ice cream where a prevalent trend is to throw around often meaningless, misleading or ambiguous terms like artisan, small batch and from scratch, this company has said from the beginning that they didn't invent ice cream, they are just good at flavoring it and specialize in churning out fun, New Orleans themed flavors.

The ice cream itself is held together with gums that serve as emulsifiers and stabilizers. These ingredients get the job done to hold things together and provide consistency and mouthfeel. This is a common practice in the world of ice cream, even among so many self-proclaimed artisans. There's nothing evil about that approach, it is really a matter of what you get in the end product, your preference and desire for transparency. New Orleans Ice Cream Company relies on this approach and is more apt to highlight the flavors they infuse to create a memorable experience. Personally, if I were able to have the best of both worlds, I'd always choose my platonic ideal ice cream made by an artisan from only milk, cream, eggs and sugar to create a consistent, low overrun, high butterfat base upon which to build a flavor. When there is a specific or unique flavor profile I'd like to enjoy that's not available in a product directly in line with my preference, I may choose a stabilized product.

Let's start with their Mint Chocolate Cookie:

While Mint Chocolate Cookie isn't a New Orleans themed flavor, some of the profits garnered from sales of this flavor are donated to the Make it Right movement to build homes in communities in need in New Orleans. According to the company, getting the "crackle" / sugary swirl right was a labor of love.

While plenty of sweet, crunchy, well-textured mint chocolate cookies to soak up the spotlight, the sugar "crackle" and mild mint flavored base carries this pint the rest of the way home. This is an altogether enjoyable mint chocolate ice cream, especially if you like your ice cream on the lighter and sweeter end of the spectrum.

This is a great example of how the brand leverages their approach to create a distinctly flavored, consistent product. The stabilizers add durability and some shelf life, and help to keep the mix ins crunchy. The downside with this type of construction is that past a certain point, when you leave this out to temper/soften, the dam breaks and the valley gets flooded, as the ice cream will fall apart.

Elliot's Grade: B

And now on to Cherries Jubilee:

Many of the Crescent City themed flavors from New Orleans Ice Cream Co. have been able to win me over. I've worked my way through most of their catalogue, coming away holding them in high regard. Cherries Jubilee was one of the pints I cared for the least.

Due to it's boozy nature, Cherries Jubilee is a dessert that was too grown up for my taste as a child, and even still. The flavor was lifted from a New Orleans menu and deconstructed into ice cream. This is one of the lighter offerings in the New Orleans Ice Cream Company lineup, and the short ingredient list reveals a reliance upon brandy and orange liqueur for flavor.

The alcohol taste is slightly diminished by letting the flavor temper, allowing the sweetness the cherries provided to carry the flavor a bit. If you're a big fan of the taste element that liquor brings to ice cream, this might be a welcome addition to your ice cream stash.

Elliot's Grade: D

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