Archive for the 'Trader Joe’s' Category

02
Jan
13

Lemony delights, homemade and store-bought

Happy 2013! As the holidays come to a close and the dreary weather settles in, I’ve found myself gravitating toward citrus desserts lately–particularly lemon. Weird and fascinating fact: even though lemons are acidic, your body metabolizes them as alkaline. So you could argue that these desserts are compatible with your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze from Giada De Laurentiis

My New Year’s resolution: learn to hold the camera straight.

First off are these lemon-lime ricotta cookies, a slight modification of a Giada DL recipe. I added lime zest to the icing rather than just lemon zest. Simple enough to make, these don’t require any fancy equipment beyond a mixer. These eat like tart little cakes, nice with tea or coffee. As you mix the icing, feel free to add more lemon juice and zest than the recipe prescribes, but make sure to taste as you go. Also, stick with juicing your own lemons. The stuff from the bottle has a bite to it (probably from oxidation) that fresh lemon juice doesn’t.

Trader Joe's lemon bars

Rarely are commercially made lemon bars tart enough, but lemon juice is the first ingredient in these bite-sized ones from Trader Joe’s.

I don’t see a need to ever make lemon bars again after trying these little gems from Trader Joe’s. They’re not that high in sugar (5 grams each), wonderfully tart (making me wonder if TJ’s cheated by adding citric acid–nope, just lemon juice), and all you do is defrost them from the freezer. If you’re serving them to guests, you may want to re-dust them with powdered sugar right beforehand. That part didn’t survive the defrosting totally intact.

Trader Joe's lemon & triple gingersnap ice cream

Judging from the font on the carton, this lemon and triple ginger snap ice cream is Asian-inspired.

Lastly, Trader Joe’s lemon and triple ginger snap ice cream is the frozen treat equivalent of lemon-ginger tea. And it doesn’t shy away from that ginger bite. Spooning into a cluster of gingersnaps makes me feel like I’m hitting paydirt. While ice cream doesn’t rank as high up there for me as cakes, pies, or cookies, this stuff makes a worthy sugar fix. Especially if you toss the random chocolate chip cookie in there as a garnish.

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10
Nov
12

A couple do-it-yourself Trader Joe’s treats

This chocolate-peppermint loaf certainly doesn't taste like it came out of a box.

Around this time of year, my grocery bill at Trader Joe’s usually doubles because there are so many seasonal goodies to try. One of them is this chocolate-peppermint loaf mix, which I may have to stock up on because it’s that good.

This loaf (I wish they’d call it something else) certainly doesn’t taste like anything you’d typically get out of a box. My only disappointment with this mix is that they skimped on the mint-chocolate chips. So I added an additional 3 ounces of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips before baking. The final result is a rich, dark-chocolatey loaf with a pound-cake consistency.

The almond croissants from Trader Joe's take minimal effort--and give many patisseries a run for their money.

These almond croissants were even easier to make than the mix. You lay them out on a baking sheet the night before so they can rise at room temperate into fluffy pillows, then stick them in the oven in the morning. That’s it. These were tastier than many almond croissants I’ve had at bakeries (although nowhere near the gold standard of the genre from Tout de Sweet in downtown Bethesda). Generously filled with almond paste and fresh from the oven, they make a tasty breakfast. Not a healthy one, but might as well eat the rich stuff earlier in the day to kick start your metabolism, right?

You leave these Trader Joe's almond croissants out overnight at room temperature to rise.

From frozen, these almond croissants quadruple in size overnight.

18
Oct
12

Journey to the Center of the Cookie with Trader Joe’s

Journey to the Center of the Cookie, and you might suffer sugar shock.

These cookies, they of the sci-fi name, remind me a lot of the cookie cups from Mrs. Fields (one of my food court guilty pleasures). But even more rich. As if Trader Joe’s hired Emeril Lagasse or Paula Deen to have their way with the chocolate chip cookie.

Seriously, JTTCOTC cookies are delicious, but you can physically feel the 49 grams of sugar. Maybe I ate it too fast, but I was nearly shaking from sugar shock (for someone who consumes as much sugar as I do, that’s saying something). Why have a can of Coke when you can take this journey and get the same jolt?

Close up of Trader Joe's "Journey to the Center of the Cookie"

Be conservative with the amount of time you keep these in the microwave, or the cookie part at the edges will dry out into tooth-chipping toughness. After making that mistake with the first cookie, I nuked the second one for 45 seconds. The molten center got soft but didn’t liquify, and the cookie stayed moist. If you want the center to melt completely, try wrapping a damp paper towel around these before you stick them in the microwave.

02
Oct
12

Trader Joe’s takes on the Mounds Bar

Trader Joe's dark-chocolate covered coconut mango bites

At least, that’s the first thing that came to mind when I spotted these new dark-chocolate covered coconut mango bites (forgive the adjective string). I know, I know. Mounds has milk chocolate–Trader Joe’s uses dark. TJ’s version has mango. Mounds doesn’t. Either way, the principle’s the same: chocolate-coated shredded coconut.

Trader Joe's dark-chocolate covered coconut mango bites, cross-section

While the mango’s a nice touch, it’s not tart enough to add much flavor. Overall, a split opinion on these. I like them pretty well but they’re not the little bites of paradise I’d imagined after reading all the hype on the back of the package. Mr. X-sXe is a bigger fan, commenting that they’re packed full of “nice, stringy* pieces of coconut.”

*One of the rare occasions where you’ll see “stringy” used as a compliment.

05
Aug
12

Trader Joe’s blueberry cheesecake ice cream wedges

Trader Joe''s blueberry cheesecake ice cream wedges.

These ice cream pops taste cheesecake-like, but not enough so to satisfy any cheesecake urge.

These bars are new to the dessert freezer at Trader Joe’s. I guess they try to manage expectations by calling them “ice cream wedges,” but let’s face it. What I wanted was a cheesecake slice on a stick.

I didn’t make it out of the parking lot before wolfing down one of these mini bars. (It was 95 degrees outside and I wanted to try one while it was still fully frozen. That’s my story.) The crumbles on the edges evoke cheesecake crust, but there’s too light a dusting to bring anything to the party. Meanwhile, the ice cream part has a dense consistency (it’s made with cream cheese) that eats a bit oddly–not as smooth as premium ice cream, or as fulfilling as cheesecake.

All said, I’d be surprised to see these in the Trader Joe’s freezer case a year from now. Because if you’re a cheesecake fan, they aren’t going to scratch the itch.

15
Jan
12

Remember Almond Roca?

Photo poached from jessicaclairesworld.blogspot.com

It’s a chocolate-and-almond-covered toffee that takes some serious chomping to bite into–so it kinda sounds like your teeth are breaking (but you won’t care, since it’s delicious). Back when I was growing up in the 80s, it came in these unmistakable Pepto-pink tins. They actually still make the stuff in similar packaging. My mom re-used the tins everywhere in our house when I was a kid. It was always a bummer to open a tin only to find a collection of loose buttons or rubber bands instead of gold-wrapped toffee nuggets.

This dark chocolate roasted-pistachio toffee is basically the Trader Joe’s version of Almond Roca. At $4 for 7.5 oz, part of me hoped it would suck so I wouldn’t have to buy it again. It didn’t suck. On the contrary, it’s addictive. Luckily, I’m afraid that eating this toffee regularly will result in more chipped teeth.* That, and the price, will likely deter me from keeping this stocked in the pantry.

*I already have a chipped tooth that’s been unsuccessfully “fixed” twice. The first time, biting down on a baguette took the filling out. The second, a Twizzler was the culprit. I didn’t want to stop eating baguettes or Twizzlers, so the tooth remains jagged.

12
Jan
12

Pimping out a panettone is a surprisingly bad idea

Over the holidays, you could get a 26.5 oz panettone from Trader Joe’s for a mere $5 (brioche-y, buttery cake with raisins and other dried fruit). For a couple bucks more, you could get this chocolate-coated, pastry-cream-injected version in the freezer section for $6.99. Sounds good, right? Only in theory.

First of all, the chocolate coating is way too thick to get through it easily. Magic Shell would’ve been more suitable—at least you don’t need a hammer and chisel to break into it. It’s so much chocolate that you find yourself getting sick of chocolate, which usually only happens in Switzerland.

The cream-filled panettone inside was tasty, but I’m just not sure that panettone needs these bells and whistles. Why mess with perfection? Stick with the $5 version: toast a slice in the oven with a bit of butter, and you’re good to go.