It had been awhile since Fred and I had tasted a real chocolaty chocolate ice cream and you usually can't get much more chocolaty than Bear Claw. Denali makes a version that boasts dark chocolate ice cream with choco coated cashews (instead of just having plain cashews) and the usual caramel swirl. I was excited to see this flavor in the store as I usually only see it in hand dipped ice cream parlors.
Once again, I felt like the packaging Denali uses was all wrong. I am convinced that the lid is continually placed on backward facing the small print description of Denali on the backside instead of the huge scoops of ice cream in the glass bowl on the front side. Once again, the packaging was so "unglossy" that it gives off the "cheap ice cream here" radar. Each flavor has a different color background. This flavor happens to be dark brown ice cream on dull pink background. At least the packaging is consistent.
I was still excited to taste the dark chocolate ice cream. In fact, I don't remember ever trying a premium brand that was dark chocolate. I was impressed that Denali was putting some extra umph in their flavors! Once the lid was off, it was obvious that this was going to be a rich ice cream. The color of the dark chocolate was that of Hersheys Baking Cocoa Powder-DARK! There was evidence of some choco cashews on the top layer, but no caramel. The edges of the ice cream container were smeared with chocolate and looked messy as if this container had been opened and shut a few times. Overall, I just don't like the look of the Denali containers. They remind me of the typical "natural foods" packaging you would find in an organic food store. Granola to say the least.
The first taste...whoa! The flavor was more semi-sweet (which is the normal definition for dark chocolate) that milk chocolate tasting, but had a funky aftertaste. It was doable and I welcomed the kick from lack of sugar (though still tasting artificial in a way). The cashews were of good flavor and were crunchy without salt. It was a great touch, but the cashews were sparse. I unfortunately have to say that I had a hard time locating the caramel in this ice cream. Usually Bear Claw is oozing with caramel, so much so that the ice cream hardly holds together. My first glimpse of caramel was over one inch down into the ice cream.
This ice cream could have been a little more creamy. It was dry and it easily broke up when divided with a spoon. I hit a cashew maybe once every three bites on average. Overall, I wanted to love this ice cream but it was lacking contents. I was really disappointed in the caramel or lack there of. I finally hit a strip of good caramel two scoops down into the ice cream. The caramel/dark chocolate blend was good, but inconsistent. I also thought that the 23% Saturated Fat Content was a decent push for the rich taste of the chocolate. This ice cream had a hard-enough consistency for me and has a lot of potential. It should have been called Dark Chocolate with some Choco Cashews and a Surprise.
I really wish Denali would hire a graphic designer, or at least someone who will make their packaging look better. As we looked at the container of Denali "Bear Claw" ice cream, I couldn't help but wonder how much more ice cream Denali would sell if their packaging didn't look so out-dated and unattractive. For their "Bear Claw" ice cream, they decided to put a lovely picture of a scoop of the ice cream, with nicely out-of-focus ingredients in the background, on a nasty pink gradient-colored container. The "Bear Claw" logo is kind of cute, but somebody please save me from that pink gradient!
When we opened the container to see its contents, the first thought that went through my head was, "Cho-co-LOT!" This was going to be a lot of chocolate. I mean a LOT. First, we had dark chocolate ice cream. Add to that "choco-covered" cashews and caramel swirl. There was no escaping that I was about to have a sugar high the likes of which I may not have ever seen before. The ice cream smelled like typical chocolate ice cream, which was actually kind of a downer given that it was supposed to be dark chocolate, and the scoop looked good, so I was ready to eat.
My first bite of Denali "Bear Claw" ice cream was kind of blah. There wasn't really anything exciting about it. In fact, it took me seven (count 'em!) bites to get my first choco-covered cashew. For the first seven bites, I was eating caramel-swirled dark chocolate ice cream. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but I wanted my cashews! And about that caramel swirl: while there were no signs of the caramel swirl when we first opened the container, it added some much needed flavor to the ice cream. The dark chocolate ice cream by itself was average; certainly nothing to write home about.
On the 8th bite, I tasted cashews! The cashews in this ice cream are good and fresh and also provide some much needed flavor, but the ice cream needs more of them. Remember, I'm the guy who didn't like nuts in his ice cream up until a few months ago! The cashews I did find were pretty big, so I think Denali could actually get away with making them about half their current size and distributing them more throughout the ice cream.
In the end, Denali "Bear Claw" ice cream is a flavor that can grow on you. It starts off a bit bland and doesn't build much from that, but it becomes a decent enough flavor after 10 or so bites. When I was done, I still wanted more cashews and better tasting dark chocolate ice cream, but I also felt like I had tasted a pretty decent ice cream.