Food, wine, travel, music
This article appeared in the Irish Examiner on 4 July 2014
ICE, ICE BABY
Finding a nice iced treat was an easy task this year. Terrific flavours, in all shapes and sizes make for a luxury-filled summer. While ice-cream has been demonised in the press lately, I am slow to think that giving up any one product will solve our obesity problems. We have got to get back to the notion of moderation and keeping treats to just that – something we enjoy occasionally, and that means every few weeks, not a few times a week. It’s quite easy to get into the habit of sharing. An ice-cream on a stick can be divided, and we need to spoon out tubs into bowls so we know what we are eating. It’s too easy to dig a spoon into a tub and not stop until it’s gone, especially when it tastes so good. Remember that a few heaped spoonfuls can deliver 400 calories very easily and that means 40 strenuous minutes on the treadmill or bike. I have given calorific values here as a warning. While calories are not the perfect measure of what we consume, they are a good enough guideline to make us aware. I have also listed saturated fat and sugar content. We awarded marks for deliciousness, health, and judged each on its own merits, not comparing like with like. These are the top 8 to make the cut.
Murphy’s Ice Cream raspberry sorbet, 500ml €6.50
The very small print on lid includes no nutritional values, but the list of ingredients was the shortest of my selection and includes spring water, 36% raspberry purée, sugar, lemon purée, and a few stablisers (as we found in most ice-creams). As this is a sorbet and not an ice-cream, it is dairy and fat free, but it still has a creamy texture which is not too icy. The raspberry flavour is superbly fresh and vibrant. Delicious and made in Dingle.
I bought it in O’Keeffe’s St Lukes. Cork. For nearest stockist: murphysicecream.ie. Expensive, but worth it.
Haagen-Dazs Secret Sensations crème brulée, 386g €3.50
Made in France, 15% pockets of caramel sauce, 4% caramelized sugar pieces, fresh cream, sugar, condensed skimmed milk, egg yolk, dried glucose syrup, cocoa butter, natural vanilla flavouring amounts to 236 calories per 100ml. This includes 7.6% saturated fats, sugars at 21.7%, with a fairly low 2.6% protein. We all loved this rich taste of crème brulée, creamy and quite sweet, punctuated with the crunchy toffee pieces.
Dunnes Stores Simply Better Toffee Brittle ice-cream, 500ml €3.
Made in Ireland, milk, cream, 13% toffee sauce, and lots of different types of sugars brings the sugar content to a high 30%. There is egg yolk powder, mono and di glycerides of fatty acids as emulsifiers. With 252 calories per 100g and saturated fats at 7.4%, 3.1% protein is little compensation. However, “More please, now that’s real sticky toffee,” was the response by tasters who enjoyed this creamy, rich, toffee flavoured ice- cream. Good price.
Ben & Jerry’s Greek style frozen yoghurt raspberry chocolatey chunk, 500ml €5.99
A surprisingly low 19% yoghurt is mixed with water, and a long list including condensed skimmed milk and 10% cream. Lots of forms of sugar including sugar, glucose-fructose syrup and glucose syrup brings sugars to a high enough 24%. There is also coconut oil, fat reduced cocoa powder and free-range egg yolk to help with good texture. It all amounts to 220 calories per 100g, with saturated fats of 7%, sugars a high enough 24%, and reasonable protein content of 4%. A Fairtrade product, this was a deliciously fresh flavoured ice with plenty of raspberry (4% purée and concentrate goes a long way). There is no acidic yoghurt flavour, more fruity with some chocolate. Expensive.
Magnum Marc de Champagne, 300ml €3.71
In a box of three, ice-creams on sticks have an outer coating of silver to suggest the 25th anniversary of their production. With 0.5% alcohol from 0.8% Marc de Champagne, a brandy distilled from leftover Champagne grape seeds, stalks and skins, gives quite a definite, rich flavour which, blended with rich chocolate, tastes of luxury. An ice-cream for grown ups. 260 calories per lolly and 21% sugars and 14% saturated fats are high and there are quite a few additives. Caramelised sugar syrup is listed and appears to be what the silver coloured coating is made from. Tasters liked the creamy texture and rich, chocolate taste.
Lidl Gelatelli mini chocolate and hazelnut ice cream cones, 336ml €2.49
12 tiny cones in a box have a nice moussy texture which defrosts quickly. Tasters liked the taste too which is of chocolate and nuts, with flecks of both on top. Made from reconstituted skimmed milk, sugar and glucose-fructose syrup amounting to 5% sugars, they are not over-sweet. These are ideal for when you feel you need something sweet, but know you shouldn’t indulge. With 56 calories per cone and a low 1.8% saturated fats, one might just help to satisfy cravings. At about 20c each, worth a try.
Tesco Finest Chocolate Origins Ice-cream Selection, 300ml €3.99
Three small tubs, one of 15% Ecuadorian, another Sao Tomé and another of Tanzanian chocolate ice-cream are made from 34% cream, whole milk, sugar, free range egg and dried skimmed milk in a relatively short list of ingredients which shows in the texture which is creamy and natural. Each had notes of coffee (quite strong), cherry or exotic fruit which made for interesting tasting. A rich chocolate flavour was delicious and the silky texture made each tub quite enough for two, so you could serve six with this pack, especially as each pot has a high 280 calories, 16.8% saturated fats, 21.6% sugars, with a bonus of 4.5% protein.
Marks & Spencer Count on Us Madagascan vanilla iced dessert, 750 ml €4.59
This ‘low fat’ choice attracted me to see if it was possible. A long enough list of ingredients includes skimmed milk, condensed skimmed milk and double cream yielding a low 1.6% saturated fats, as expected with a ‘low fat’ product. A high 22% sugars from sugar, dextrose and glucose syrup brings calorie content to 140 for 100g. There is a decent enough 4.1% protein to sustain us at least for a while. Flavour from lime peel, lemon peel, and vanilla is delicious, and the texture is creamy and smooth.