Tuesday, April 14, 2015

READER REVIEW: Elliot's Review of McConnell's Sea Salt Cream & Cookies

This isn't the classic Oreo cookies and cream most of us think of when we hear cookies and cream. That's ok, as this is Cream & Cookies, a decadent take on the classic combination of milk (cream in this case!) and chocolate chip cookies. Flavor-wise, this has more in common with cookie dough than cookies and cream.


The first new release by McConnell's in 2015 is a re-imagining of a classic. Michael Palmer, one of the owners, had this to say, "One of the things McC’s has license to do - from a brand perspective - is build our unique take on “classics” as well as develop more “foodie” flavors. After all, McC’s is a Mid-Century company and so the classics - be they Vanilla, Mint Chip, whatever, are certainly in our wheelhouse. In fact, our mantra here is to make nothing less than the best versions of those classics in the marketplace. Period. At the same time, we are, indeed, food people. I’m a winemaker, and Eva is a chef. We didn’t just throw on a chef’s toque so we (and others) could then refer to us as ice cream artisans or whatever."


"With SSC&C, we recognized that no one in the “artisan” category had really taken on Cookies & Cream. Why? Because while it’s a perenially popular flavor, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when one think artisan ice cream. It’s a little more middle of the road, ice cream-wise. So, our thinking was, why not reinvent this classic - and develop a more foodie version at the same time - while offering something unique in the high-end ice cream space. We took the very same cookies that we bake in our stores - these buttery, Guittard chocolate chunk cookies that people have gone mad for - and we cut them into our Sweet Cream ice cream that’s been lightly infused with sea salt."



McConnell's pints tend to be understated and elegant; this is brash and beautiful. While the majority of their offerings highlight the texture and flavor of their bases, SSC&C showcases the talent of their highly skilled and dedicated pastry chef, Jordan Thomas. Her beautiful, store made chocolate chunk cookies (seen all over social media) are generously scattered throughout, bringing bold, pronounced flavor and a varied texture to each bite. Salt, of course, keeps the 18.5% butterfat sweet cream base slightly soft, and cuts down on the time needed to temper, scooping more easily straight out of the freezer.


So many ice cream reviews are entirely subjective. Looking at the quality of each ingredient in this ice cream : What about the quality of the milk and cream? McConnell's is a dairy dedicated to making ice cream. Their ice cream isn't made using the castoffs from milk production, like the Straus Creamery base you'll find in many west coast brands. This is the crème de la crème. What about the Guittard chocolate they use? This is expensive, quality chocolate you'd eat by itself, not mass market stuff the Unilever corporation uses to produce thousands of pints of their latest flavor. What about the cookies they bake in house? These are bakery cookies you'd buy as a splurge for a couple dollars apiece, made from components not the mass produced junk you find in most stuff out there. The quality of the components matter. The construction and execution of the base matters. 18.5% butterfat <10% overrun?! That aside, the most important thing is that it has to taste great. And this does.


Many ice cream companies are cranking out wild flavor concepts a dozen at a time. This may be the only new flavor release we see from McC's this year aside from a handful of seasonal offerings. What would you rather see? A dozen mediocre flavors unbalanced with regard to flavor and texture relying on sweetness to cover up flaws, to fit some inane "colors" marketing initiative, or something you could scoop every day that's truly exceptional and built to last?

Sea Salt Cream & Cookies is one that people are rightfully going crazy about. Their first run of the flavor sold out. I was lucky enough to get my local grocer to pick up this flavor and, since then, I am getting plenty of vitamin SSC&C.

Where Elliot Found It: Straub's Market
Elliot's Grade: A

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