Want some salad dressing for dessert?
That’s the challenge being posed by the folks at Hidden Valley Ranch, the popular dressing brand, and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, the company known for its inventive offerings. They have collaborated on a limited-edition flavor, simply called Hidden Valley Ranch.
The one-of-a-kind ice cream is being sold solely through Walmart
stores from March 20 to May 28. But the announcement came early to time with National Ranch Day (yes, there’s such a thing) on March 10.
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I got a sneak peek of the strange concoction and found it to be all sorts of weird. To its credit, it really tastes like ranch dressing — that is, it’s very savory. But that doesn’t cry out as something I want to have in an ice cream.
Indeed, it’s not for everyone, concedes Ben Van Leeuwen, who founded the brand with his brother Pete and Laura O’Neill.
It’s “the most challenging flavor we’ve ever done,” Ben told me, noting that it even surpassed a Kraft Mac & Cheese offering Van Leeuwen released last year in terms of recipe development.
The big issue, Ben explained, is that it was hard to get past the garlic and onion notes in the Hidden Valley dressing, so it took about 10 to 15 tries to get the recipe balanced just right.
Or right enough that it works for at least a few bites, Ben said, but maybe not a whole pint. “And I’m a whole-pint person,” he said.
If you’re looking for something more in the sweet vein, Ben noted that Van Leeuwen is releasing six other flavors, including Sweet Maple Cornbread, Blood Orange Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Shortcake, as part of its limited-edition springtime Walmart lineup.
Van Leeuwen is far from the only company pushing the envelope when it comes to ice-cream flavors. In recent years, we’ve seen brands coming up with everything from an everything bagel-flavored ice cream to a Thanksgiving-themed turkey one.
It’s also worth noting that Hidden Valley Ranch, which is actually owned by the same company that makes Clorox
has become increasingly popular in recent years. As part of that growth, it’s gained appeal as an accompaniment for everything from pizza to French fries.
But of course, it remains a favorite salad dressing. Which begs the question: Could you put some ice cream atop your lettuce? Ben said he’s warmed up his ranch flavor and dipped some carrot and celery sticks in it.
“We loved it,” he said of the combo.
So, I took Ben’s advice and tried it that way. And guess what? The thing works! It’s like super-thick (and super-chilled) ranch dressing with a hint of sweetness — a very nice match with your veggies.
But I’ll stay away from topping this ice cream with hot fudge.