Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Haagen-Dazs Five Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: A compelling reason to buy full-fat ice cream

When my friend Ali, who is taking the Bar as I type this, e-mailed me about Haagen-Dazs' new line of Five ice cream, I didn’t take much notice. Even with her persuasive subject line “Addiction,” I was fairly uninterested in the all-natural ice cream made with only five ingredients (hence the name).

It’s not that I don’t trust the opinion of the girl who loathes tomato sauce, but lists pizza (with tomato sauce) as one of her favorite foods. On the contrary, I actually consider her one of my finest foodie companions and would trust her implicitly to pick out a restaurant or cook me up a bowl of her infamous noodle soup.

The reason I didn’t care about the “wow” taste of Haagen-Dazs' new product is because I refuse to buy full-fat ice cream.

That’s not to say that I’ve never dabbled in 250+ calorie ½ cup scoops before. In college I partook in Ben & Jerry’s pints on more than one occasion (paper writing begets cravings), and two years ago, I gave in to the cry of seasonal pumpkin ice cream and purchased the Double Rainbow version at Trader Joe’s. Of course, on the day of reckoning (ie. Halloween), I could barely enjoy my indulgent purchase. All I could think was, “I could eat a full cup of Dreyer’s Slow-Churned Pumpkin instead of this measly ½ cup portion that is actually closer to a full cup because of scoop inflation.” It didn’t help that each bite tasted like it had been churned out of butter. I could practically feel my butt expanding as I spooned my way through the bowl. Armed with guilt, I couldn’t get myself to finish the rest of my pint.

I continued on my track of low-fat and soy creamy ice cream-only freezer stocking for many many moons (two years and 9 months) thereafter. If I wanted to splurge, I’d splurge at an ice cream shoppe where there were no damning nutrition labels on display. It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I even glanced in the general direction of the Haagen-Dazs pints in the supermarket.

The circumstances were these:

My friend Ashley and I were in Gelson’s looking for a suitable vanilla ice cream to pair with the baked peaches we were going to make for dessert that night. I secretly wanted the Dreyer’s Slow-Churned variety, but didn’t want to be so brazen as to suggest the low-fat version of the product that Serious Eats described as “halfway defrosted Cool Whip” during a recent blind tasting.

“Which one do you want?” I asked, eying the Dreyer’s Vanilla with all my might.

She shrugged. “I don’t care. Which one are you more likely to eat up?”

I shrugged back. “I don’t know. Whatever you want is fine.” I said, again, eyeing the Dreyer’s Vanilla with all my might.

“How about this one?” She asked, pointing to the Haagen Dazs Five Vanilla Bean that was on sale.

“That’s fine,” I responded with a well played air of indifference. I begrudgingly reached in and abstracted the full-fat ice cream from the freezer case. I blanched at the nutrition facts. 220 calories per ½ cup, 11 grams of fat – 7 of which were saturated.

May God have mercy on my thighs, I thought as we proceeded to check-out.

Later that evening, after our peaches were hot and bubbling with brown sugar, I tentatively dragged a spoon into the lush sea of diet doom. Unlike my Dreyer’s low-fat, it didn’t hesitate to extract itself from the carton. It glided unto the scooper like the glass slipper onto Cinderella’s foot. I hesitated, and then went in for another small scoop. And then, when Ashley wasn’t looking, I added a teensy bit more to my bowl of peaches.

The ice cream was everything that my Dreyer’s vanilla is not – satisfying in and of itself, redolent with the intense kiss of real vanilla beans, and drinkable in its melted form, as Ashley and I both discovered when we lifted our bowls to our lips and finished the remaining pool of cream at the bottom.

The next two nights, I savored the last two remaining servings of the full-fat ice cream. Unlike the Double Rainbow pumpkin, it didn't taste heavy, and the intense vanilla flavor reminded me of the tapioca pudding my mother made for my brothers and me as kids.

When my last bowl was gone, I immediately logged on to Gmail to report my change of heart to Ali.

“You are right - Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Five is awesome.”

My future lawyer friend is a pretty smart lady. (Even if I do disagree with her taste in pasta sauce.)


Jenn said...

I love Haagen-Dazs ice cream. I tried that 5 vanilla bean once. It was sooooo good.

Nicole said...

ohhh, i loathe tomato sauce but love pizza as well! i may need to buy this ice cream as i may have similar tastebuds as your friend! :) sound delicious!

yutjangsah said...

i had a harrowing haagen-dazs addiction for several years. when i detoxed i said no mas to full fat ice cream at home. i've broken down and yes, double rainbow at TJs is one of the drugs that have caused me to "relapse" but yeah, now i just have gelato, soy ice cream and froyo at home. i take it one day at a time my friend. one day at a time.

Gastronomer said...

I love sweets and all, but ice cream just doesn't do it for me. It's lovely, but maybe too subtle most of the time. Gimme cake! Gimme cobblers!

Esi said...

Even though I make my own, I have to really be in the mood for ice cream. Therefore, I don't feel so bad if I indulge in the full fat version. Actually, I think it is better. I have seen this Haagen Dazs everywhere. May have to pick some up some time, although I tend to prefer my ice cream with big cookie chunks, etc...lol

faisal said...
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Elra said...

I thnk I am addicted to all of their new line "Five" also the "Reserved" line. IT's the best by far. My freezer never absent from this two lines. Have you tried the caramel & fleur de sel? or, Amazon Valley? How about the pomegranate? actually try everything... that's what I did, an like (cross that) love them all.

Diana said...

Jenn - Isn't it awesome? I haven't had it since, but I think I'm going to try some of the other flavors soon.

Nicole - It's very simple, very refined. I can't see how anyone couldn't like it!

Sook - It's all us ice cream lovers can do. Breathe in, breathe out, and try not to inhale any full-fat cream in the process.

Cathy - THIS is why we are incompatible! Give me ice cream or give me death!

Esi - You can always add the chunks in yourself? I do that sometimes. :)

Elra - I've heard the fleur de syl is amazing! I fear that if I try it, I may not ever be able to enjoy my Dreyer's low fat again!

Reeni♥ said...

I've been hearing good things about Five all over. I hardly ever indulge in ice cream so when I do I go for the gusto!

Lisa said...

Haagen-Dazs five Vanilla Bean flavor is just plain awful. Vanilla seeds from the pod are an excellent flavor addition, as is the bean steeped in the custard mixture (& later extracted) but vanilla bean flakes taste Musty-the ice cream flavor, in my pastry chef option,is a mistake and ought to be pulled from the 14oz rip-off shelves asap.

Rowena Hailey said...
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Mariz Denver said...

I wonder how that tastes. I'm going to the store now to buy one.

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