Welcome, Coconauts, to our Monday afternoon tea time interval, where we sample and review the latest food offerings that land across our desks, courtesy of PR agencies. Truly, your nibbles are much appreciated, and our boundless hunger welcomes most food that you send our way.
Today’s offering comes from ice cream manufacturers Häagen-Dazs, who have launched a series of frozen treats for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which lands on Monday, September 24 this year. It’s also sometimes called “Mooncake Festival” because of how ubiquitous these desserts are during this gift-giving season.
Celebrating the mid-autumn harvest in the Chinese lunar calendar, the holiday is observed among ethnic Chinese communities around the world, as well as in Vietnam. Mid-Autumn Festival emphasizes the coming together of family and friends during what traditionally was a time for crop harvesting, when the moon is especially bright and round. Observers also give thanks to the harvest, and pray for blessings such as children, spouses, longevity, and an auspicious future.
Mooncakes stuffed with red bean or lotus seed paste are some of the long-standing, traditional fillings, but nowadays brands and businesses can be seen attempting to outdo each other with the latest snazzy way to offer their customers mooncakes.
Check out what the Shangri-La Hotel is offering this year, for instance:
And then, there’s Häagen-Dazs. The ice cream company is doing a series of limited edition cakes, ranging from thin, mochi-skin strawberry and mango ice cream frozen cakes, to Parisian-themes desserts made with yuzu citrus ice cream among others, to a series of celebration cakes made with exciting, Asian flavors that include green tea and purple potato.
Perhaps wanting to play it safe to the unadventurous palate, we received the Twinkle Night Mix, consisting of six cakes, in flavors including chocolate, mango, berries and cream, and vanilla.
The series retails at RM150 (US$40), and judging by the fancy packaging, we would have guessed as much. A tub of Häagen-Dazs usually retails at RM30 (US$7.50) at local grocery stores, and with each cake in the Twinkle Night series probably weighing in at a scoop sized portion — you’re not exactly getting the best value for your money.
However, holidays are not really about thrifty, are they? In the words of that one auntie who always has an MLM scheme up her sleeve: You gotta spend money to make money! Maybe we have to spend a small fortune, to guarantee abundance til next year?
On that note — behold, the frozen delights:
We live in the tropics, and time is always of the essence when one is dealing with ice cream, so we went straight in, with a hot serrated knife, just like Martha Stewart told us. We didn’t count on the chocolate teflon Häagen-Dazs emblem, stronger than our knife, and stronger than any heat we tried to slice it with. Pro tip: just take it off before you slice.
First up: Mango ice cream in a milk chocolate shell.
Mango and chocolate is not a duo we often see together in our aesthete lives. Our brain wasn’t sure how the tangy sweetness of the mango would match with the mellowness of the chocolate. Turns out, there really wasn’t much of a conflict of interest. The ice cream was smooth, less tangy and more creamy than we expected — it wasn’t like biting into a frozen mango, like many sorbets can be, it was understated and that worked just fine. We ate all of it, and have no regrets.
Next up was the white chocolate shelled cake, stuffed with vanilla ice cream.
How to put this politely? Vanilla ice cream in a white chocolate shell has to be the butter sandwich of the ice cream world. Yes, we like butter, and yes, we like bread. Yes, we like vanilla, and yes, we like white chocolate (shhh!). It was a bit boring but, we ate most of it. It’s hard to argue with ice cream on a hot day.
Adventure seems to have taken a backseat in the Twinkle Night mix, because the next cake we tried was chocolate ice cream, in a chocolate shell.
So, basically version two of the last one, but with chocolate. Was it inspired? Not really. Was it tasty? Yes. Did we finish it? Also, yes.
Moving on, to the last flavor in the box, we had high hopes for the berry ice cream in a white chocolate shell.
Well, well. If it isn’t our dear friend berry ice cream: As kids we were the family culprit when it came to draining the Neapolitan ice cream of its strawberry third. This little cake took us right back to those flavors, but of exponentially better quality. This cake was delicious, and we finished it.
Reader, we’re not sure if you’re keeping track, but we’re now four cakes down, with two more left over (one mango and milk chocolate, and another chocolate and chocolate). Should we just finish it, we wondered? Six ice cream mooncakes did seem like a lot, and we remembered that the Mooncake Festival was about bringing people together, so we did what any normal human would have done four cakes ago: We called up a friend, and gave them the last two.
Conclusion: Hardly riveting to cover chocolate, vanilla, and berry ice cream with a chocolate shell, but we’re certainly not complaining — you can’t argue with ice cream. However, if you’re paying out of pocket, and have a more adventurous party to feed, perhaps check out some of Häagen-Dazs‘s other offerings this festival season.