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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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Trader Joe's Danish Pancakes

People eat spherical pancakes in the merry land of Denmark. How delightful. How novel. How delicious. 

Why pancakes would taste better in the form of balls, I haven't the foggiest clue. They just do. Why "Munchkins" taste better than regular Dunkin Donuts, I'm not sure of either. Why "balls" sounds so much more vulgar than "spheres," well, I do have a clue why that's the case...so I shall strategically avoid that terminology for the rest of this blog post.

A few years back, I visited a touristy Danish village in Southern California known as Solvang. It means "sunny meadow." It's cute and quaint, full of wine-tasting establishments, four-seater quadricycles, and German-looking fachwerkhäuser. Along one of the picturesque side-streets, an unassuming hole-in-the-wall consistently attracts a crowd of people waiting to try what the Danes call "aebleskivers" (eh' bil skee vers). Sonia and I took a gander at the plates of some of the patrons. They served the pastries with a raspberry sauce and an optional scoop of ice cream. We immediately decided to brave the long queuing line and get a plate for ourselves. The aebleskivers were amazing. 

When we first saw these Danish Pancakes at TJ's, we thought, "Hmmm, I wonder if those are similar to aebleskivers?" Upon closer inspection, we noticed that Trader Joe's writes on the packaging, "aka aebleskivers." Score!

Trader Joe's Danish Pancakes are every bit as good as the aebleskivers from Solvang. They were slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. We heated ours in the oven, and we can't imagine them turning out nearly as well in the microwave, although they list that as an option on the packaging. My biggest complaint about these confectionery spheres is the lack of "fixins." If the product had come with powdered sugar and raspberry jam, these might have been real candidates for our Pantheon of Great TJ's Foods. Of course, we used our own powdered sugar, and fortunately, there's not a lot of variation from one brand of powdered sugar to the next. That raspberry jam from Solvang, on the other hand, would be very difficult to replace. It's very unique. We used some of our Welch's grape jelly instead, which actually wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. We also tried them with maple syrup. No, sadly it wasn't Trader Joe's Organic Grade B Maple Syrup, but maybe we'll try them with that next time. Homemade whipped cream goes well with them, too.

Click here to watch 52 seconds of aebleskiver madness on YouTube, featuring my repulsive attempt at a Danish accent!

Sonia and I each give them 4 stars.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.


  1. Go to Cost Plus/World Market and pick up a jar of lingonberry jam. That's the proper way to eat them!

  2. Thanks, acoloradopoppy! We got that suggestion on our Facebook page, too. Scandinavian snackability!

  3. Ack, I lost my closest two World Markets, now need to drive about an hour away. Anyway, I looooovve these, and I also like them with mulberry preserves which is what I've had on hand recently from the middle east. My most recent favorite way to eat them, however, is spread with TJ Cookie Butter!

    I dislike them with maple syrup. Also, I hate things prepared in the microwave (apparently I own a large butter melting machine), and had been baking these in the oven, but one morning I was in a hurry to get something for myself and followed the microwave directions out of desperation (my baby was ready to nurse), and to my amazement, they came out even better, so that's how I make them now. Not so much a plus for those who fear microwaving.

  4. I actually have these a lot for breakfast and if I'm in a rush I will microwave them, which isn't as bad as it might sound, its just different. In the oven, they come out crispy and crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, which I love. In the microwave however, they come out like little spongecake balls that are soft all the way through, which is almost as tasty. I will usually drizzle some honey or maple syrup over the microwaved ones and in about a minute they have soaked it all up and are delicious little balls of sweet goodness. That being said, I probably prefer baking them, but just slightly.

  5. I liked the aloo chaat kati. The flavor was very close to the authentic ones I've had. Granted the crust was cardboardy and a bit tough, but very crispy. they're not so bad. A big RED FLAG is TJ's drops the ball (in their ignorance), because chaats were made for dipping (hence their dry, denseness), but the usual chutneys for them are nowhere in sight at TJ's. You need cilantro or mint or tamarind chutney (I like Swad brand), or a choice of an herb and a tamarind. Short of that, try plain Greek yogurt mixed with a dash of salt. Heck, I put sweet butter on mine, they were so dang dry. But I'd buy them again.

  6. Sadly, and much to my chagrin, Trader Joe's has discontinued this product:(