Last week I reminisced about the hottest AC-less summer that the duck and I can remember. This week I want to write about another way to cool down when it’s hot outside: ice cream! When I was still good with milk, ice cream was a summer staple. I loved devouring the occasional tub of that extra creamy American style, preferably cookies and cream-flavored, ice cream. Unfortunately, that was the literal food that started my milk troubles some years ago. Gelato and frozen yogurt still worked for the duck and me for a while after, but these days, our ice-cold refreshment of choice when we’re out is sorbet (just to be safe). A side effect of not eating a lot of ice cream was the disappearance of our regular ice cream cravings which made encountering deep, beautifully bitter matcha soft serve on almost every street corner back when we were living in Japan decidedly more bearable. The duck and I had gotten used to life without ice cream until, some weeks ago, we saw that one of our favorite grocery stores, Aldi, had started selling vegan ice cream that looks just like the kind I was in love with many years ago. Of course, the duck and I had to throw our no ice cream lifestyles overboard and make this the subject of a subjective taste test – summer edition:
The almond question
The duck and I were a bit surprised when we saw that these American-style ice cream varieties were made with almond milk rather than coconut because the latter would surely be more suitable for replicating the characteristic creamy qualities of the heavy cream in American ice cream. When we saw the available flavors, however, our hesitation completely disappeared. There was no way we would say “no” to “Peanut & Cookies” which promised to combine our formerly beloved cookies and cream ice cream with our peanut butter obsession! Then we saw the tubs with cookie dough ice cream and, remembering all those Ben & Jerry’s “Cookie Dough”-fueled cinema sessions with my friend Jn, I knew I would regret not trying this variety, too. The remaining “Funky American style” ice cream variety we espied in the freezer was called “Fudge Brownie” – we love brownies! – so we grabbed a tub of that, too, because all good things come in threes anyway, right?
The ice cream
As mentioned before, all three varieties feature almond-based ice cream, which I’m not sure I had ever tried. So far, I had only tasted rice-, soy- and coconut-based ice cream, and none of them had been marketed as “American style.” Of course, the duck and I were curious to find out how this almond American ice cream would hold up.
I should note that it’s been years since I’ve had American-style ice cream with dairy. But I remember that while I loved the creamy texture, I wasn’t a fan of the heavy cream aftertaste it would leave in my mouth. Well, this particular ice cream has neither. It does taste and feel much lighter than the duck and my memory of real ice cream. But we also didn’t have that weird creamy taste in our mouths afterward, which made us happy. Even though almond ice cream might not be a perfect substitute for American-style dairy ice cream, to us, it’s a nice neutral canvas for mixing in all those sexy flavors and mix-ins we missed in vegan ice cream, like peanut butter and cookie dough! We wouldn’t mind trying all the other flavors Aldi sells internationally (and seasonally?) if they all have such a pleasant and neutral almond base. But enough about the ice cream – let’s get started on the flavors!
Peanut & Cookies
Of course, we had to try this variety first. And what a divine first taste it was! We love the peanut butter sauce that swirls through the vanilla ice cream that sports chocolate cookie chunks and peanuts as mix-ins. The cookie pieces remind me of Oreos, but also of that typical chocolate-flavored, slightly soggy ice cream sandwich “bread” the duck and I might have had a slight shared addiction to when we first met (so much so that in the beginning, when we already knew that we were bad with dairy, we would still eat ice cream sandwiches from time to time because “no risk, no fun”). We like peanuts but, to be honest, we wouldn’t mind fewer peanuts and more peanut butter sauce in this because peanut butter is beautiful. Nevertheless, this gets a perfect subjective 5/5 ducks rating because this is the ice cream flavor that has all the things we missed in ice cream, minus the fear of a tummy ache after.
While “Peanut & Cookies” combines flavors that we love, “Cookie Dough” is the ice cream variety I missed the most in the beginning. Needless to say, the duck and I had high expectations. Unfortunately, our first bowl of vegan cookie dough ice cream was disappointing. See, had we read the full description on the lid, we would have realized that the ice cream is caramel flavored (a flavor that we try to avoid) and features big semisweet chocolate chunks (a type of chocolate that we’re not fans of) in addition to the advertised chocolate chip cookie dough chunks. There’s also supposed to be cookie-flavored sauce somewhere in the mix.
If we weren’t so particular about chocolate and caramel, this would have received a higher rating. But since this is a subjective taste test, we’ll rate it 3/5 ducks. It’s still vegan ice cream, and we don’t mind eating it (in fact, it’s easy to eat lots of it). But I don’t think I’d buy this again, especially knowing that “Peanut & Cookies” exists!
Chocolate Fudge Brownie
The composition of this variety is simple: chocolate- in the shape of chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, and moist and chewy brownie chunks. Together the components give you a beautiful deep chocolate flavor with the occasional slight texture change through the brownies. Out of the three varieties, this is definitely the most homogeneous in terms of texture and flavor. To be honest, even though the chocolate sauce gives the ice cream a pretty, marbled look, to the duck and me it all tasted the same. But we don’t mind that if it’s chocolate (as you might have been able to tell from our chocolate stick review)! Because the flavor is so deep and not broken up by other flavors, we didn’t really feel like we could eat on forever… which was interesting.
We love chocolate, but we also think you need to be in the mood for chocolate if you want to truly enjoy this ice cream. 4/5 ducks. The cool thing about this variety is that it will probably last us the longest because it so nicely satisfies our chocolate cravings that we will need numerous sittings to finish this tub.Vegan ice cream has been around for a while in Germany, but the duck and I were usually put off by the scary price tag. Seeing that grocery stores are gradually jumping on the bandwagon, offering store-brand vegan ice cream at a slightly lower price than their brand counterparts (but, of course, still more expensive than most regular dairy ice cream) filled the duck and me with optimism. And even though we weren’t equally flashed by all the flavors we tried, the duck and I are generally happy that it’s gotten easier to get decent vegan ice cream that isn’t plain vanilla- or chocolate-flavored at an acceptable price. Our grocery store brand vegan ice cream search has made us curious to see what other stores and countries have to offer!
Have you ever tried “fancy” dairy-free ice cream? Which flavor is your favorite (with or without dairy), and which one would you love to try?