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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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Trader Joe's Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Chocolate. Hazelnut. Cookies. Let's repeat that again, and let it sink in. Chocolate. Hazelnut. Cookies. Let the wild drooling rumpus begin!

There's very few word trios that hold that kinda sway over me. Maybe "pizza/ wings/ beer" or "baseball/ boxseats/ beer" or maybe, from the looks of things, just "yada/ yada/beer." How can these be bad? And how could I have held strong, and walked past these shopping trip after shopping trip, and never give into temptation like I have been so tempted to before?

As it turns out...I could have waited and not missed much. I'm shocked at those words I just typed. But it's the truth. Let's analyze this. It's not the fault of the cookies, in this case meaning the twin hazelnut shortbread discs on either side of the chocolate filling. Oh no. Those are ab-sah-freakin'-lutely delish. Soft, crumbly, sugary, nutty, melty-in-your-mouthy...if it were a simply a box full of simply those, despite any restraint I am trying to cultivate within me, these would have been demolished within seconds, and Sandy and I probably would have inadvertently ruthlessly bloodied  each other as we fought each other off for every last little crumb. That would have been awkward to explain at the forthcoming family Christmas gatherings. But much like these similarly flawed shortbread-inspired snacks, there's a certain something that otherwise holds them back from being all they can be. This time, it's the middle.

Perhaps it's not really all that fair, but when I see the words "chocolate" and "hazelnut" together, my mind kind melds them into one word that stands above most others in this world: Nutella. Nutella's the standard, and despite several noble attempts to duplicate its success, well, you just can't. Coming close and falling short is okay, but to miss it completely, like the choco-nutty filling of these guys do, well, that's unacceptable. Them's the rules. It's not really the flavor itself, though it's not quite rich enough to really stand out from the rest of the cookie. It's the texture. I'm not sure if it's tough or kinda chewy or just plain hard, but to when your teeth sink right thru the wafer and strike upon the middle, it's a rude awakening, like digging through soft soil only to run into some hard clay. It's certainly not the "creamy" the package purports it to be, probably in an effort to fool you into thinking there's a reasonable Nutella knockoff dwelling inside. Not a fan.

Overall, the cookies would be better off either a) skipping the chocolate filling altogether 2) packaging a little jar of spread inside, separate from the cookies, in order to spread your own on or d) with you scraping off the spread then dipping them into Nutella. For me, this makes three not-so-glowing cookie reviews in a row...I'm beginning to question if I like cookies as much as I think I do...I might finally have to cave in and try the cookie butter to see what all you kids have been raving about for months on end. Sandy's not so huge on them either, for all the same reasons. We're waffling between a 3 and 3.5 each, when really, I wish we were talking another holiday pantheon candidate. Sigh.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons   


  1. Oh man. I've been tempted by these too. You can't go wrong with the cookie butter though. Our family goes through a jar a week. We love it in our oatmeal!

  2. you really need the cookie butter NOW. I recommend first having it on the cinnamon pita chips!

  3. I will respectfully disagree. This is my favorite TJ cookie right now. Yes the chocolate is more like candy than a creamy frosting or filling but I like the contrast.

  4. I'm with bentley1530 - I think these are super good!! I am sad that my children like them, because it means I have to share...

    [just found your blog today; thus the flurry of comments... :^]

  5. Have to disagree. I find these to be amazing cookies. But watch that experation date.

  6. I have to disagree too! I'm a huge hazelnut fan and I saw these at Trader Joe's last night and had to buy them! These are by far my favorite. I will say the flavor kicks in after your first bite but could not be any happier with my purchase. I will definitely be buying more of these in the future.

  7. I totally disagree! This cookies are the absolute best. I may even like them over, dare I say, ANY of the girl scout cookies out there. Yes, I said it. These are dangerous. I need. Always.

  8. I suspect I would not like these as much if they had a Nutella knockoff in the middle.

  9. I agree completely. I could've written this review myself. I loved the cookies, though it's not surprising I found it a bit scant on hazelnut meal, but that weird melted-down then-cooled Tootsie Roll filling in the center clung to my teeth and gave my brain sugar-freeze. I ended up scraping the cookie off with my teeth and tossing the crumb-encrusted chocolate discs. I really wish they would just release these without filling or at least a much more buttery one that's more Nutella and less plastic.

  10. I LOVE these cookies. They're so deliciously soft and not too sweet. Very delicate and decadent. I actually quite enjoy the texture of the filling. I would enjoy it just as much if it were more like a nutella texture- but either way is delicious.