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, December 10, 2015

Trader Jose's Handcrafted Chocolate Raspberry Tamales

Please forgive my complete ignorance when I ask this question, but I seriously do not know the answer: Are dessert tamales an actual thing?

Yes, I know, you can do Google searches to find recipes to make your own. And of course, there's the fine fellows pictured to right - getting to them in just a minute here. But I've been to Mexico a couple times, have eaten many tamales down there...and all were delicious but decidedly undesserty. Same with Sandy. So do they exist elsewhere, or is this some gringo invention that came to be just because it sounded too darn good to not try?

Regardless of their origin, we've seen a lot of buzz about Trader Jose's Handcrafted Chocolate Raspberry Tamales on the interwebs. I was definitely intrigued, too, when Sandy snapped a pic of them while shopping one day while I was at work. Though we weren't sure what exactly to expect - corn masa-fied chocolate and fruit sounds potentially delicious but a little odd, perhaps - we knew we had to try.

Oh, good call. Good, good call. Listen: they may not be the prettiest treat when all done (especially after steaming them, like we did), but these tamales are downright delicioso. We got chocolate coming at ya two ways here: Cocoa powder in the masa and chocolate chunks in the middle. When prepared, those chunks melt down to a smooth, warm, almost fudgy filling. And corn mixed with chocolate isn't that weird when you think about it - I mean, Cocoa Puffs, right? But unlike the chosen cereal of my youth, these tamales feature a darker, more subdued variety of chocolate flavor, which pairs very well with the not-too-sweet/not-too-tart raspberry parts. I kinda wish these had a little more raspberry, to be honest, but the balance was approximate enough to not get me too riled up. There's definitely an added touch of cinnamon, too, which adds just a little nice subtle dimension.

One thing: These are a m-e-s-s mess mess mess. I've mastered eating most other tamales by hand without too much trouble, but with the chocolate ozzing and goozing everywhere, and the whole tamale being perhaps a little less structurally sound in its not-quite-brownie/not-quite-cake state of masa-matter (cocoa's fault?), you gotta go at these Aristrocrat style. Yup, a fork and plate. not a big deal, but if you're tired of constantly unloading and reloading the dishwasher, well, here's another dish. At least we have a dishwasher...learned the hard way sophomore year of college.

Not gonna lie: Sandy and I are plotting to stock the freezer with 'em. For only a buck each tamale for a four pack, it's a definite dessert win. However inspired, muchas gracias, Jose, mi amigo de comida.

Bottom line: Trader Jose's Handcrafted Chocolate Raspberry Tamales: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

9 comments:

  1. Told ya! It $4. I do agree that the raspberry needs to shine little more. They should make another sweet variety.

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    1. $4? Alrighty. Lost the receipt, will update. Thanks as always sir, and yes - you were definitely right.

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  2. Growing up, we had a very close family friend who was Mexican. She used to make tamales from scratch, and my favorite were these fresh pineapple/cinnamon dessert tamales. They were incredible.

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  3. They sound great!I imagine they would be extra special with whipped cream or vanilla or coffee ice cream

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  4. These are really great. Best part is, they are not too sweet. You get a nice rich, almost bittersweet-chocolate flavor with some raspberry. (I agree, the raspberry is a bit subtle.) I'll be stocking up on these too...

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  5. Sweet tamales are a thing. In my family we make pineapple raisin and a friend of mine makes strawberry, but I've never seen chocolate.

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  6. Yuck! I enjoy less sweet desserts, but I think they forgot to put any sugar in mine.

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