Today, McDonald’s released a limited-time-only dessert: the Chocolatey Pretzel McFlurry. It’s a vanilla soft-serve ice cream base with chocolate-covered pretzel bits, with a ribbon of caramel sauce swirled in. I like a good McFlurry now and then, so I thought I’d give the Chocolatey Pretzel McFlurry a whirl—not just to see if McDonald’s could pull off the sweet-and-savory combo, but also to report my findings back to all of you.
I won’t mince words: it’s only okay. And the reason lies in the decision to use chocolate-covered pretzels. Actually, more specifically, it’s the fault of the chocolate that enrobes the pretzels. And that’s the biggest disappointment, because the combination of chocolate and ice cream is one that I fuckin’ love.
I’m sure all of you have had chocolate chip ice cream that has left a lot to be desired. The issue comes down to temperature; when frozen, chocolate chips become waxy and brittle, and they only become remotely appealing again once they have time to warm up to body temp in your mouth, at which point they finally start melting and you can, you know, actually taste the chocolate. (And don’t even get me started on the M&M McFlurry, whose chocolate pieces are made even more unrecognizable with a layer of candy coating.)
The same issue comes into play with this latest McFlurry, because when your spoon hits the many broken-up chocolate-covered pretzel bits swirled into the soft serve, that waxy chocolate texture becomes a huge distraction.
As appealing as a McFlurry can be, its base is made of soft serve, which melts quicker than hard-pack ice cream. If you don’t eat your McFlurry fast enough, within minutes you’ll be left with a bunch of slightly salty pretzel bits that might as well be smothered in crayon wax swimming around in a dairy soup. The caramel is what you expect: a ribbon of sticky sweetness that just sort of sits there, not adding much to the overall flavor and not really complementing the pretzels in any meaningful way.
I get it. Chocolate in ice cream is a tricky beast. It’ll only melt like silk in your mouth if it’s heavily incorporated with a substance like coconut oil, which is solid when cold but melts very quickly once warmed. This is why homemade Magic Shell ice cream topping is such a delight. But you can’t coat something like chocolate-covered pretzel pieces in that kind of mixture and leave it at room temp, so the chocolate coating must instead be made of the tough-as-nails variety. Too bad we can’t have it all.
This seems fixable, in my opinion. McDonald’s, why not just toss regular pretzel pieces in the McFlurry base and stir in some hot fudge instead, and maybe top it off with a little caramel at the end? It would still be sweet and savory, and it wouldn’t leave any waxy, flavorless frozen chocolate for our teeth to fight our way through. As it stands, the limited-time-only novelty known as the Chocolatey Pretzel McFlurry is one that you can definitely skip.
Instead, try my favorite version of a McFlurry: order a regular Oreo one and ask them to add hot fudge to it (it costs a little extra, but live a little). The cookies offer that signature crumbly Oreo texture, but the hot fudge adds a warm, rich, velvety experience that contrasts with the soft serve. You won’t even miss the wax.