"In the pun-filled flavor world of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Brownie Chew Gooder is a classic, at least in name alone."

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[Photographs: Brad Thomas Parsons]

Recently Ben & Jerry's released an exclusive Flourless Chocolate Cake flavor available only at Walmart. (Technically, the flavor isn't a true Walmart exclusive, but Walmart seems to be the only place where you can actually find this "Limited Batch.") This unlikely partnership immediately sparked some concern among the Serious Eats community, and even as the pros of this partnership were brought up, many people seemed to overlook the merits of the flavor itself.

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And now, Ben & Jerry's kicks off summer with two new flavors: Berry Voluntary and Brownie Chew Gooder, which you'll only find at another big-box retailer, Target. And if the names didn't give it away, this partnership helps foster volunteerism. You can visit Scoop It Forward to identify volunteering opportunities in your local community. And to sweeten the deal, after you make your volunteer promise you can earn a coupon for a free pint of Ben & Jerry's, redeemable at Target (while supplies last).*

*Dear Ben & Jerry's, why isn't any of this information on your website?

Berry Voluntary

Raspberry Cheesecake with White Chocolate Chunks and Raspberry Swirl

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Whether it's soft serve, ice cream, sherbet, or even a Popsicle, raspberry is a touchstone flavor for me. With just one lick or a spoonful on my tongue, I'm immediately sent back to summertime and Little League baseball games. Häagen-Dazs makes a Black Raspberry Chip that visits my freezer from time to time and just last weekend I had a Raspberry-Lemonade soft serve at Momofuku Milk Bar that knocked my socks off.

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I had that same sense-memory sensation when I dipped my spoon into Berry Voluntary. But I was brought back from my reverie when the heaviness of the cheesecake started to coat my tongue. I don't want to knock it. It's a great new flavor, but, like most Ben & Jerry's, it's super rich. Almost too rich. The raspberry swirl represents, but if I had been in the B&J's flavor lab, I would've suggested chocolate chunks to cut through the sweetness. The white chocolate chunks, which complement the mix in New York Super Fudge Chunk, come across as too cloying here. This is a flavor I wanted to love and commit to, but I can tell it's just going to be a summer fling.

Brownie Chew Gooder

Vanilla Caramel Ice Cream with Fudge Brownies and Caramel Swirl

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First off, I certainly hope the Ben & Jerry's Flavor Guru who came up with the name "Chew Gooder" gets an extra Friday off this summer. In the pun-filled flavor world of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, this is a classic, at least in name alone. I admit, I was quick to dismiss this flavor before I even had a pint in hand. Reading the primary flavor components—vanilla, caramel, fudge, brownie—put me in a been-there, tasted-that frame of mind. It seemed like the safety school of flavor combinations. Couldn't they have rolled out something a bit more inventive? Especially for such a high-profile release.

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The vanilla-caramel combination makes for a rich and creamy base, but what saves this seemingly pedestrian mash-up is the brownie. Oh man, does it ever. Typically these brownie mix-ins can be pretty cake-like, but this is so chewy. I had to re-read the flavor profile to see if these were caramel brownies. they were so wonderfully sticky and chewy. Like some other Ben & Jerry's swirls, the caramel swirl was pretty weak. I want a swirl to be a whorling riptide of flavor, not a trickling stream. But I'll forgive that because of those wonderful brownies.

About the author: Brad Thomas Parsons is a Brooklyn-based writer who has interviewed many of the food world's biggest names, including David Chang, Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, Danny Meyer, Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver, Paula Deen, and Giada De Laurentiis, among others. He is currently at work on his first book, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails and Recipes.

More Ice Cream

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