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Taste Test: Butter pecan ice cream

Butter and cream are the perfect couple. When the flavors are swirled with pecans and frozen, the delicious butter pecan ice cream is a dessert that had some of our judges drooling. We sampled 10 brands of butter pecan ice cream with mixed results and an unmistakable winner.

Kathy Saunders, Times Correspondent
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Product/Score (out of 100) Haagen- Dazs/ 78 Hannaford/ 52 Publix/ 51
How'd it look? "Like a Sweet 16 birthday party," said one judge. Pale and soft. Buttery. Whiter than the others, but loaded with nuts.
Judges' comments This dessert had a great blend of caramel and maple with large chunks of pecans. Creamy and almost crispy, said one panelist. Another said the taste reminded him of his youth. "It's friendly, happy and welcoming," he said. "The flavor of whole milk and butterfat is really great." Sweet with tiny pieces of pecan. "This ice cream has nice, soft folds," said a judge who liked the bounty of nuts in each serving. The brand would have received higher marks from some judges if it hadn't been so soft. This was the softest of the ice creams. Judges liked the texture of nuts and the super sugary flavor of the frozen treat. But most of the panelists said they wouldn't buy the store's ice cream after learning the same chain sells the way-more-delicious Haagen-Dazs brand.
Would they buy? All five judges said yes. Two of the five judges said yes. One of the five judges said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $3 for a pint at Publix. $2.50 for a half-gallon from Sweetbay. $3 for a half-gallon.
Also sampled: Belmont ($2.79 for 1.75 quarts from Aldi Food Stores, 36 points); Great Value ($3.28 for 1.75 quarts from Wal-Mart, 50 points); Mayfield ($4.99 for 1.75 quarts from Sweetbay, 44 points); Pet ($2.99 for 1.75 quarts from Sweetbay, 47 points); Breyers ($5.59 for 1.5 quarts from Publix, 39 points); Blue Bell ($1.79 for a pint from Publix, 41 points); and Edy's ($4.99 for 1.5 quarts from Publix, 37 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; Times food critic Laura Reiley; and consumer/foodie John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to jkeeler@sptimes.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to food.tampabay.com.

Taste Test: Butter pecan ice cream 02/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 3:30am]

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