Review: Milk Bar's Holiday Edition Ice Cream Flavors Are A Holly Jolly Treat

Milk Bar is a dessert establishment — a dessert behemoth, even — famous for a sticky, custom plate of buttery deliciousness known as the Milk Bar Pie and towering birthday cakes decorated in tiny spheres of more cake. Clearly, the brand knows its stuff. Headed by the famous and ingenious chef Christina Tosi, Milk Bar keeps churning out modern classics, especially in a line of luxurious ice creams. Year-round, you can purchase and enjoy favorites like Cereal Milk, Birthday Cake, and Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow. But during the most wonderful time of the year, you might want to pick up some seasonal pints: Candy Cake Cookies & Cream or Gingerbread Latte.

Milk Bar's newest fall menu items were enticing, but in a world of holiday-flavored foods from peppermint mocha coffee creamers to sugar cookie protein bars, there are so many desserts and so little time during the holiday seasons. Which ones are really worth it? We had to try Milk Bar's Holiday Edition pints and let the people know if they were winning flavors worth buying. To decide, we taste-tested each pint. Then we compared their themes for how they stand out in a busy field of seasonal desserts, as well as how cohesive the tastes are to Milk Bar's intended flavor.

Price and availability of Holiday Editions

Quality comes at a cost, and in this case, it's a little higher than your average tub of grocery store ice cream. Depending on where you are in the country, the price of a standard, non-seasonal Milk Bar ice cream pint on Whole Foods' online market will range between $4.50 to as much as $6.50 at the time of publication. While you can buy cookies, cakes, truffles, and pies all straight from the Milk Bar website, you're going to need to find a Whole Foods or alternative grocery store that has the Milk Bar Holiday Edition pints in physical stock, as shipping does not appear to be an option at this time. According to press info, the Milk Bar holiday pints will start at $6.99.

The Milk Bar Holiday Edition ice cream flavors are subject to availability, which you can check for your locality by using the "grocery locator" function on the company's website. Milk Bar ice cream is sold at many Whole Foods locations and on the grocer's online marketplace, and you can also keep an eye out for the festive pints at your local co-op. If you really just can't click away from the website without buying something, though, we understand. A seasonal variation on the famous Milk Bar pie is pretty eye-catching. 

Nutritional info

You probably aren't planning to attain your most important nutrients of the day from Milk Bar ice cream, but it's worth a glance at the label. Each pint contains around 3 servings portioned at ⅔ of a cup. There's actually quite the caloric difference between the two flavors despite the same size serving: Candy Cake Cookies & Cream has 410 calories, which is 80 more than the 340 calories found in Gingerbread Latte. 

Perhaps the most important thing to look at is the sugar content, though. In a serving of Gingerbread Latte, you're squeezing in a little over half of the recommended daily value of sugar; in a serving of Candy Cane Cookies & Cream, it's 10% more sugar. The two pints share the exact same percentage of the recommended daily value of fat at 65%. On to the good stuff; there are a few grams of protein in each, which is nice to see, and the Candy Cane Cookies & Cream has 2 grams of fiber (Gingerbread Latte has none ... go figure.)

Candy Cane Cookies & Cream taste test

The first of the two Holiday Edition pints we tried was Candy Cane Cookies & Cream. This blush-pink peppermint ice cream is packed full of chocolate sandwich cookies and also features a swirl of white icing. Basically, it's your regular Cookies & Cream ice cream, but festive. We loved it. The consistency is thick and creamy, but the generous heaps of cookie pieces provide plenty of texture. The mint flavor isn't overpowering and not spearminty at all. It's got that time-honored, nostalgic taste of a classic candy cane.

Our primary critique of this ice cream is a minor one — and it's actually something that applies to the Gingerbread Latte flavor, too. The one flavor element we didn't mention when complimenting this Milk Bar pint was that white icing swirl, and it's because said swirl provides little to no extra flavor but disrupts an otherwise smooth thing. The texture is a little hardened, like the royal icing on a cookie that's been sitting out a few days past the holiday party, and the only thing we can taste is sugar. Overall, it feels unnecessary and distracting.

Gingerbread Latte taste test

The Gingerbread Latte pint is ambitious. It aims to capture two strong, bold, and somewhat divisive flavors in one: gingerbread and coffee. Now, the coffee flavor gets a bit of a break by being labeled as a "latte" because a latte is, in many terms, a little espresso and a lot of milk. This dessert only has a faint taste of coffee, so don't worry if you're a little hesitant about that. There was the faint reminder of a milky chai tea latte (but make it dirty), thanks to the gingerbread spices and light nod of café. It certainly wasn't a bad thing; this ice cream turned out to be far more comforting than we thought.

That other, often bold flavor, gingerbread, isn't overly played, either. The combination of spices is warming and aromatic without being too spicy. You will taste cinnamon and cloves, most notably, which also happen to be two of the leading chai spices. The cookie pieces are nice, tender, and chewy, but you already know what we are going to say about that swirl ... Yes, it's the same sugary white icing that doesn't really need to be there. Maybe a cream cheese icing or even a cinnamon swirl would have been a better choice, but that's just our subjective opinion.

Are they worth it?

So, it's time to answer the question you have all been waiting for: Are these Holiday Edition Milk Bar flavors worth purchasing? In short, our answer is yes. To go into a little more detail, though, we would buy the Candy Cane Cookies & Cream again before we would repurchase the Gingerbread Latte. In the latter pint, the spices could have been spicier, the coffee stronger, and the icing more interesting. It also doesn't feel like that great of a departure from Milk Bar's previous holiday-themed ice cream, Gingerbread House. Still, it's a solid flavor, and no matter what, both pints feature that high-quality ice cream base that Milk Bar is known and loved for. 

Our final thoughts are positive. The Candy Cane Cookies & Cream is a decadent, pepperminty dream. It's herbaceous and balanced and a great riff for cookies and cream lovers. The Gingerbread Latte is a mild and pleasant pint to move away from all the heavier, rich desserts that can ring in the season and lean into the sharper ginger side of things. Either way, a Milk Bar ice cream is always going to be a top contender for the best ice cream in the room.