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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Trader Joe's Sweet Cinnamon Filled Korean Pancakes


Bro...do you even hotteok?

Can't say I can, because I just learned the word tonight when prepping some Trader Joe's Sweet Cinnamon Filled Korean Pancakes. Lol..."Korean pancakes." Call 'em what they are, TJ's. Hotteok. Granted, yes, I along with likely 80% or more of shoppers wouldn't know what that means at first glance, but I'm always down for a little culinary education. Apparently hotteok is a popular Korean street food, filled with all sorts of stuff, in, well, more or less a pancake form. Never saw or heard of them before as I've never been to Korea and that's not much Korean influence around the 'burgh that'd make something even as tasty and tantalizing like this readily available. 

All that to say, heck yeah, these are pretty good.

Let's take another second to be clear here: I am not qualified in any way, shape or form to claim these as authentic or close to the real thing or for them to even be half as good. I'd actually be fairly and pleasantly surprised if they were. I'm judging these pancakes simply on their own merits, including costing $3ish bucks for 4 of them, and heating them from frozen on my stovetop for just a few minutes. So take as you will.

All that being said, yum. Let's start with the dough. It's delicious and pretty unique for my experience. Even heating right from frozen, with no butter or oil or anything used, the outside gets all browned and crispy and a touch greasy, just like a good comfort food should. Love it. Further in, it's not quite a mochi-esque bite, but in some ways it's close as it's a little chewy but also soft and moist and gooey and oozing out warmth. Looking over ingredients, there's all sorts of stuff in the dough - wheat, sweet potato, rice flour - that come together well into a soft, lightly sweet cake. 


The cinnamon reservoir is pretty fantastic too. I mean, it's a lot of cinnamon. Be careful that stuff is ridiculously hot and stays that way for longer than expected. The cinnamon adds a great spice bite that complements the dough really well, making these compact cakes have more punch than expected. 

Still, adding a little ice cream or whipped cream or something like that to just really fill it out? That'd be worthy of hashtagging a #chefskiss all over this. 

Delicious, We love 'em and I'm glad we got a second bag that I'm already looking forward to busting open. Authentic? Maybe, maybe not...if you know, tell me. But I'm glad that TJ's has introduced me to this particular chunk of the culinary world, and I know I'll be seeking out the real deal if I ever get the chance. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sweet Cinnamon Filled Korean Pancakes: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, September 20, 2021

Trader Joe's Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bites

Oatmeal is a hearty, nutritious breakfast and all, but I don't usually think of it as a treat. I mean, sure, oatmeal cookies have been a go-to semi-sweet snack for ages. I guess I want to look at these apple cinnamon oatmeal bites as spherical oatmeal cookies. 
They're kinda like the aebelskivers of the snackable oatmeal world. If you can turn pancakes into spheres, why not oatmeal? Or any other breakfast food for that matter?

Resealable bag? Check. Air fryer instructions? Check. Nine frozen oatmeal balls? Check. Like planet earth, these oatmeal bites are not perfect spheres, but might qualify as "oblate spheroids."

After a spell in the Ninja, the bites are crispy and crusty on the outside and wet and gooey on the inside. The dueling textures make them fun and unique, significantly more interesting than traditional oatmeal.


They have a rich, hearty, grainy taste like regular bowl-bound oatmeal, and there's a pretty decent amount of apple and cinnamon flavor. It's not a desserty flavor by my estimation, though. The flavor is on par with a regular non-spherical apple cinnamon oatmeal. They're not as cookie-esque as I might have hoped. They're more breakfasty in terms of sugary decadence—or rather, a decided lack thereof. That's fine. I kinda wish they were just a taaad sweeter. Would you think me a monster if I added maple syrup or whipped cream or something?


The convenience level is significant, and there's a definite novelty factor here. $3.99 for 3 servings. I think we're looking at about three and a half stars a piece from Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Trader Joe's Bamba Puffed Peanut & Corn Snacks with Hazelnut Creme Filling

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the Choco Taco. It's a great idea, right? If meat, cheese, beans, and other salty, savory ingredients work in a particular format, why wouldn't a bunch of sweet, desserty ingredients work in the same manner?

So instead of taking the classic arrangement of a taco and turning it into a dessert, this is almost like doing the same with Combos bite-sized stuffed snacks. Instead of cracker or pretzel as an outer shell, we have a classic Bamba peanut puff. Instead of cheese filling, we've got Nutella-esque hazelnut creme right down the middle of these cylindrical snacks.

Of course Bamba peanut poofs are much lighter and less dense than any Combos shell I've had, but they're still rigid enough to serve as the vehicle for a generous dollop of rich hazelnut creme in each and every bite. The original peanutty Bamba snacks were very popular in Israel. I'm not sure if this version is big over there in the Levant, too, or if this is a "LOL stupid, fat Americans will only eat peanut snacks if they're stuffed with chocolate" kind of thing. I do see that this version, as well as the original, is a "Product of Israel."


Chocolate and peanut butter is a combination that's hard to get wrong. I mean, it's hazelnut creme, not "chocolate" per se, but there is real cocoa in the ingredients. 

Did you know how Nutella came to be? In WW2, there was a cocoa shortage throughout Europe, but an Italian confectioner named Ferrero found he could use hazelnuts to stretch out his limited cocoa supply. Amazing. Let's hope WW3 yields similar delicious discoveries.

These things are scrumptious. There's actually a good balance between the peanut and hazelnut flavors. They're still crispy and crunchy, but there's a nice smooth component now, too. At least as addictive as their predecessor, it's seriously kind of a struggle to not eat the whole bag in one sitting, although supposedly there are three servings in there.

Their only drawback? They're a little oily. You'll need a napkin or a wet wipe when you're done, unless you're really into that whole finger-lickin' good vibe.

$1.69 for the bag. That's a great value in my book. Four and a half stars from Sonia. Perfect five from me.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.