Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Filled Cupcakes

After our last review, Sonia and I were feeling a bit gluten-deficient, so we ran out and picked up some cupcakes. Not gluten-free cupcakes. Regular old glutenful cupcakes.

Now, I was super hungry when I tried these for the first time. It was the day after we got them home from TJ's. The cupcakes were moist, rich, and delectastic. (Does that fictitious adjective work for you? I have mixed feelings about it. It's supposed to be a contraction of "delectable" and "fantastic," but it kind of loses some of its potency when I have to explain that. But probably most of you would have gotten it anyway...I think. But anyway, I digress). Yes, delectastic. And I'm not really the hugest fan of dark chocolate. I know dark chocolate is tres chic right now. Everybody loves chocolate, and dark chocolate is supposed to be better for you than milk chocolate because there's less sugar and more cocoa bean and more antioxidants and more magical unicorn juice and all that nonsense. But I'm actually a fan of white chocolate because there's more sugar and less good for you stuff—and perhaps one of the best desserts I've ever had was a white chocolate peanut butter cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, which is one of the most unhealthy restaurants in existence. If you actually look at the nutrition information for what you're eating, you'll probably never go there again. But anyway, I digress again—for the second time in one paragraph. Maybe it's time for a new paragraph.

Ahem. My point was that I like sweeter chocolates better. But in this case, the dark chocolate was both rich and sweet. Sweet enough for me. It blended with the peanut butter beautifully. One of the best cupcakes in recent memory. And I've had some pretty tasty cupcakes in my day. Crumbs and Frosted Cupcakery come to mind. There are those who will tell you that Sprinkles is of the same caliber as those guys, but I'm not one of them. Nor is Sonia. I'm also hoping to check out cupcakes from the legendary Magnolia Bakery in Manhattan on our next trip to NYC. And for you gluten-free people who've made it this far into what has become a highly gluten-laden article, please please please check out Sweet Freedom Bakery in Center City Philadelphia next time you're there. Amazing. In fact, if you're kosher Jewish, vegan, or allergic to wheat, soy, corn, peanuts, eggs, and/or sugar, you can still check out their products. Seriously. I'm not sure what is in their stuff, but it's none of that stuff.

Definitely not the case with these TJ's cupcakes. In fact, I think I just named the entire ingredients list of these cupcakes in that big sentence near the end of the previous paragraph. But on with the review. I ate two cupcakes the first time I tried them. They were great. The following day, Sonia insisted that I have a third while she ate the final one. I didn't put up too much of a fight, even though my tummy was protesting because of the first two cupcakes. (I am gluten-sensitive, but not really gluten-intolerant). This third cupcake was definitely not as good as the first two. It might be partly because I wasn't as hungry, but I think a big part of it was that the cupcakes were actually beginning to get stale. It had only been about 24 hours, but there was a distinct difference. Those first two cupcakes would have gotten a 5 from me. That third cupcake would only get a 4. So I'll split the difference and give these guys a highly-respectable 4.5 stars out of 5.

Sonia gives them 4 stars. She says they're not too sweet, just sweet enough. She says its a perfect peanut butter to chocolate ratio. She's a fan. And she's an even bigger cupcake connoisseur than I am.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10 stars.

9 comments:

  1. Ohhh but they look SO good! Who doesn't love choc and pb??

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  2. Try Magnolia because you have to, but don't expect a whole lot. There are way better cupcakes out there. If you get to Brooklyn, I'd try Baked.

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  3. Ohhh...thanks for the tip. I spent hours making a chocolate and peanut butter birthday cake last year. These might just satisfy the craving instead! (And since you like the chocolate and peanut butter combination, be sure to try TJ's "Peanut Butter Goodies" sometime. They are a chocolate covered, peanut butter mousse on a shortbread cookie treat. Yum!)

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  4. Hmm...I may tweak the recipe and MAKE THESE CUPCAKES. I think I have some unicorn juice in my cupboard.

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  5. With a family of four, these make a great staple in my house. As a huge fan of the Reese's Peanut Butter cups, they do not taste that sweet to me. After all, isn't that what having a cupcake is all about? Thanks for another great post.

    Brian Bedell
    Panna Days, Guinness Nights

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  6. I'll definitely check out Baked. Thanks, Randi.

    And I'm sure you can use double unicorn juice as a substitute for gluten, Nellie.

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  7. Looks they may be a little too rich for me. But I want to try them nonetheless.

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  8. These are the outright best thing I've had from TJ's in recent memory. Interestingly enough, I found that they stayed surprisingly fresh, without a noticeable change in texture or moistness in the several days that might pass between eating the first and the last. It made me wonder what mega-preservatives must be in them, but I guess I didn't really want to know, because I didn't look at the label to find out. I haven't gotten these recently since for a while there when I discovered them, I was eating them a LOT, but now might be time to pick up some again. Soooo good!

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    1.  Just got these and had one instead of lunch. (At 290 calories, I couldn't justify eating anything else!)
      And they were awesome: creamy, fudgy, not too sweet, nice pnut butter surprise. I'd give them a 9.5. And for once, I'm glad TJ's is in Rochester, not Buffalo, so I'm not buying these things weekly - killer!

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