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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Trader Joe's Chocolate Mochi Cake Mix with Peanut Butter Frosting Mix

 

Ask my lovely bride a simple yes or no question, and chances are you won't get a simple answer. 

For the sake of our marriage, going on nearly twelve years now, I won't get into too many specific examples of this. But it kinda drives me crazy, even though I should be used to by it now. I mean, we've been together for long enough, and I've never gotten a yes/no answer...but anyways...

Most recent/relevant example: when i was trying to bake the Trader Joe's Chocolate Mochi Cake Mix with Peanut Butter Frosting Mix for a dessert the other night. the instructions called to bake it in an 8x8 baking pan. I couldn't find it. I asked her if she's seen one around or if we had one. "Well that's the one you exploded that one time because of whatever you did in the oven and remember all that broken glass..."

Thanks for the fond memories. Did we have another one, maybe a spare or we rebought one? Can't remember everything. But apparently the answer was no. I baked it in a 9x7x2 instead. Can you guess what you're getting for Christmas, my love?

Good times. 

Anyways, on to brownies. 

Wait, I mean chocolate mochi cake. Which really is a lot like brownies when it comes down to it.

I mean, sure. It's rice flour, gluten free, a little chewy and bouncy. Emphasis on a little. That's all fine and well, but when translated via a chocolate flavor, my 'merican mouth can't shake the sense that it's essentially a brownie. Can a brownie by any other name taste as good? The answer to this yes/no question: Yes, of course. It's a nice chocolatey flavor for the cake, decidedly more towards sweeter milk chocolate than dark, but that's fine. It's chocolate. 

I may have muffed the frosting mix atop. It's kinda the reason I'm not showing you a pic of my creation. The instructions said to get an electric mixer and cream a stick of butter with the PB powder in the box. That sounded like too much work and dishes, so I instead slightly softened a stick via microwave and mixed the powder in by hand before putting in the fridge to reset. The cake was also kinda warm when I put it on, so yeah...not a visually appealing creation, but that's on me, not TJ's. Tasted fine, and while not really PB by any stretch, it wasn't some overly sweet annoying imitation concoction either, and it worked well with the cake because it's chocolate and peanut butter. 

We all liked it, and if you asked us if we'd buy again, I'd say sure, the kids would give an emphatic "Yes!" and Sandy would eventually give an answer that translated to a yes...I think. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chocolate Mochi Cake Mix with Peanut Butter Frosting Mix: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, August 27, 2021

Trader Joe's Organic Peach Fruit Spread

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

That's what they say, anyway. I always assume that's what's going on when someone does something I'm doing. As a school kid, back when I had a full head of blond hair, I got a spike. A week later, half my class showed up at homeroom with pointy Bart Simpson haircuts and tubes of hair gel in hand. What a trendsetter I am, I thought to myself.

Or a slightly more recent example: one day I brought a Trader Joe's brand beverage to work. And two days later, some co-workers followed suit and brought TJ's drinks along, too. Same thing happened with cookies, sauces, pastries... Cheers, friends. Great minds think alike.

I mean, they might have been making fun of me in some underhanded, passive-aggressive way. But I had no reason to think that, nor would I have cared even if it were the case. I'll always just assume the best, refer to the first line of this post, and carry on with business as usual.

But what about when somebody imitates themself? I mean, isn't that what we have here? Trader Joe's already offered us a pretty stellar fruit spread made with real peaches. If it ain't broke, then why try to fix it?


Could be a 3rd party supplier issue. Could be people were scared off by the "Bellini" part of the product. I mean, it did contain real white wine, but not even enough to make mention of an alcohol content. Whatever the reason, I say, if you're going to imitate yourself, keep the product at least as good as it was and hopefully make a few improvements.

Organic peaches. Organic cane sugar. I guess those are upgrades. No Prosecco. Whether that's an improvement or not depends upon your perspective, I suppose.

One thing some people might like that I wasn't particularly thrilled with: bigger peach chunks. The peaches in the previous iteration were pureed. There are big wads of pure peach here that simply don't want to spread onto toast smoothly. Again, some people might not mind that. I guess it works for pie filling or smoothie ingredients.


Flavor-wise, the two products are very similar. You could taste the white wine before, which I liked. This flavor is more purely peach. Neither product was overly sweet, but this one might even be a smidge less sugary. I'd probably settle on the same score for both if it weren't for those large, slightly stringy peach masses scattered throughout this jar. I'll go half a star lower. Sonia will keep her score the same, stating that she likes it just as much and at $2.49 for the jar, it's significantly less expensive.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Trader Joe's Instant Cold Brew Coffee

Coffee demands honesty, so let's just get right to it:

Is there any truthful way I can persuade you that Trader Joe's Instant Cold Brew Coffee is, somehow, miraculously, an an actual legitimately good coffee option that'd make you want to either skip the drive thru, walk by the neighborhood shop or stash away your Mason jars and clear that shelf in your fridge?

HAHAHAHAHAHA. No way. 

It's not great coffee, by any stretch. To complicate things, it's not like there's an actual, tried and true recipe for success here. It's: grab a spoon, throw a scoopful-ish into 12oz of cold water, stir, sip. Too weak? Add more coffee. Too strong? Add more water. Sip. Repeat as necessary. I mean, sure, that's a way to do things, but when I'm tired and in a rush that necessitates resorting to instant friggerin' coffee, I have neither the time no the mental facilities to go full out Bill Nye and experiment my way into something resembling a passable cuppa joe. And pardon me for assuming, but that's likely a statement we'd share. Reliable, decent coffee is what we want and demand, and while there's probably a way to figure out how to make one with this particular cannister of powder, is it really worth the effort? 

I will give it this, though. I am somewhat of a cold brew snob. Why add to these hot, humid summer by swallowing down a steaming cup of coffee? Ugh. Many cold brews I have tasted, whether from a shop, a chain, or a prepackaged type deal, have had this unnecessarily bittersweet bite. Some even taste like tin. Yuck. The TJ's instant cold brew possesses none of that. It's just plain ol' boring coffee, kinda earthy and flat. But not flat earthy cuz that's just weird.  It lacks much of any description and is neither bold nor weak, neither sweet nor overly bitter, neither here nor there. I mean, it's not like that great cup of nitro cold brew from the neighborhood coffee shop, but it's not dirt and water either. It's just coffee, admittedly closer to Sanka than Starbucks, but still. Doctoring it up with cream and sweeteners may help if you're into that kinda thing. I'm not, so your mileage may vary. 

I'll keep it stashed away at my work desk, because if there's a true affront to coffee here, it's the work pot. Yikes. Need a change up every once in a while and this, not entirely unfortunately, will have to do. My lovely bride isn't going to bother with it and I don't blame her. I'll be nice and not completely trash the coffee - I mean, it is instant coffee, it's not like those Arabica beans chose this destiny for themselves, I'm not gonna hate on their existence, and at the end they still give me caffeine. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Instant Cold Brew Coffee: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons