I don't know where I heard about it first. It might have been the Chowhound message boards, it might have been in a Trader Joe's review on Yelp.com, or it might have been both. It seemed too good to be true, but the words kept catching my curious eyes -- Trader Joe's Soy Creamy Vanilla Mango Ice Cream. The rumor around foodieville was that it was really tasty, and I knew that sooner or later I would have to perform an investigation of these claims.
While I normally surrender to chocolate when I crave something sweet, when I gave up chocolate for Lent a year and a half ago, I needed to find an alternative fuel source for my sugar highs. Insert Trader Joe's Soy Creamy Vanilla Mango Ice Cream.
The odds were stacked against the frozen dessert. It wasn't chocolate, it didn't contain cream and it came from the freezer section of the store that created an offensively grotesque spinach lasagna. I was fully prepared to hate the soy-based ice cream.
Except I didn't hate it. I loved it. I loved it so much that even after Lent ended, I continued stocking my freezer with the bright cartons of fake ice cream. Today, 18 months after my initial encounter with the soylicious wonder, I can't go a few days without a fix. Fortunately, with only 130 calories and 4 grams of fat per half-cup serving, I don't have to break my diet to make it a repeat offender in my post-dinner dessert line-up. I normally can only make the 8-serving size container cover 5 evenings, but have been able to stretch it to 6.
The beauty behind the faux ice cream is that it doesn't melt as rapidly as true ice cream, so I can savor it for a good 15 minutes as I swirl it around the bowl with my spoon. When it first comes out of the freezer, it can be a bit hard, but once it softens up, it takes on the consistency of a creamy frozen yogurt. I like to eat the mango first, and then finish up with vanilla, but they do pair nicely together as well. The taste of the flavors combined is reminiscent of the orange-vanilla 50/50 bars.
Strangely enough, while the vanilla in the Soy Creamy mango vanilla concoction is as creamy and sweet as a traditional vanilla frozen yogurt, the vanilla in the plain Soy Creamy vanilla carton is a completely different bird. Icy and devoid of any perceptible vanilla flavoring, it was a severe disappointment when I tried it this past summer. I didn't make it past more than two bites before I defrosted the rest of the carton in my sink.
As much as it pains my inner-chocoholic to admit it, the vanilla mango wonder is one of my favorite treats. So much so that I may need to rethink my Lent strategy this year --2009 may very well be the year I give up soy ice cream.