I want to say it was two Christmases ago, but Sonia and I splurged and bought one of those O & H Danish Kringles from Trader Joe's, and it was amazing. All who partook of the pastry agreed that it was divine: family, friends, guests, and pets. The decision was unanimous. Whether dunked or dry, buttered or not, that pastry was a win, no matter how you sliced it. We neglected a review on this blog since there are generally so many Trader Joe's brand goodies to be scrutinized this time of year.
But with offerings like this one, TJ's is making us wish we'd picked up another Kringle instead.
They've got the right idea: a soft bread, almond paste filling, and some sugar sprinkled on top. But the execution is poor. Just look at the uneven distribution of the sugar. The almond paste is severely deficient throughout the bulk of the pieces, and even the bread itself is slightly sub-par.
The bites that were full of almond paste were head and shoulders better than their non-almondy counterparts, but there's simply not enough of it to go around. There's a thin ring of the stuff right where the outer lumps of bread join to the inner circle. When one snags a piece from this area, the first bite or two tends to have copious quantities of the almond paste, but after that, it's just plain old boring bread.
Unlike the Kringle, this product is conveniently divided into sections, making for potentially simpler servings. No knife needed. Simply tear off a slice with your hands, in the manner of a loaf of monkey bread or pull-apart cake. As you can see in the picture below, however, my better half did not trust my grubby paws and opted to slice her pieces with surgical precision anyway.
The product does dunk well, absorbing a generous lot of whatever hot beverage you're sipping at the moment, but that can be said about nearly any holiday pastry, from loaves to cakes to muffins or even cookies. Heating the pastry improves both taste and texture slightly, but does not entirely redeem it.
There are about nine servings in the package, according to the nutrition info, and for once, I won't argue with that assessment. $5.99 for the whole thing makes it affordable, but probably not the best way to spend six bucks at Trader Joe's this time of year.
Sonia's biggest complaint was the uneven sugar and almond filling distribution, as well, but she was quite content dipping and dunking with her beloved java. Three and a half stars from her.
Had the bread itself been melt-in-your-mouth delicious, it might have been worth it, but as it stands, I'll be a bit Scrooge-ish and snub this poor pastry with two and a half stars.
Bottom line: 6 out of 10.