I love ice cream. In fact, I love anything that even vaguely resembles ice cream, although frozen kefir is a bit of a stretch. So when I saw Halo Top’s Black Cherry ice cream lined up a few shelves south of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia in my local Mariano’s freezer case, I had to check it out.
What caught my eye was the large number on the front of every pint of Halo Top ice cream. As it turns out, the number is the calorie count for the entire pint, counts that typically range from 240 to 360. Remember-that’s the number of calories in the entire pint.
In contrast, Graeter’s Mocha Chocolate Chip, a personal favorite, weighs in at 300 calories for a half cup. That’s more than the entire pint (four half-cups) of Halo Top’s Lemon Cake flavor.
So how does Halo Top do it? Like other ice creams, Halo Top is made with milk and cream. But instead of using full fat milk and a lot of heavy cream, Halo Top uses skim milk and a smidge of cream, a substitution that impacts the ice cream’s texture.
While some flavors are creamier than others, a pint of Halo Top ice cream should be left at room temperature for a few minutes prior to scooping. And even then, the texture isn’t nearly as smooth as the texture of a full fat ice cream.
All ice creams have air pumped into them to give them a lighter texture. A premium ice cream may be 20 to 30 percent air. In contrast, a generic ice cream can have an air content as high as 90% plus, which means the air to ice cream ratio is virtually 1 to 1. To lower the calorie count, Halo Top ice creams can have an air content as high as 82%. In addition to lowering the ice creams’ calorie count, the higher air content has a positive effect on the ice creams’ texture.
High calorie ice creams are sweetened with sugar. Halo Top uses a trio of sweeteners, with zero calorie Stevia carrying most of the load. Stevia is a plant- based extract that, in general, gets a thumbs up, even from the Whole Foods’ crowd.
There are downsides to Halo Top- there always are. But when you stack up the pluses, I think they outweigh the negatives, as long as you remember that Halo Top, along with a growing list of other high-end low- calorie ice creams, isn’t a sorbet or a gelato or a premium full-fat ice cream. Instead, it’s a premium low-calorie, low-fat ice cream that delivers flavor and satisfies your ice cream itch without trashing your calorie count. It’s good news in a summer that could use some good news.