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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Trader Joe's Jingle Jangle Ice Cream

There's a certain allure to places like Coldstone Creamery, or the local frozen yogurt place where you can put in all your own mix-ins, isn't there? It feels like an ice cream laboratory, where you, the Dessert Doctor, concoct your own blend of all sorts of various ingredients then devour it all. It's cool. You're in control. You know what you're doing. You're going to make the Best. Ice Cream. Ever. It's going to be amazing, and all yours.

Well, maybe that's your experience. Must be a lot of peoples', otherwise they wouldn't be so popular. But it isn't mine. Now, I'm a guy who likes chunky, wacky, jumbled frozen deliciousness as much as anyone else - I've been to the Ben & Jerry's mothership in Vermont literally about 100 times, and wondering when I'll have my next chance - but it's not been my experience. I take what I feel would be an awesome mix, and instead the outcome seems less than the sum of its parts. Like I did something wrong.

It's kinda like that with Trader Joe's Jingle Jangle Ice Cream. This oughtta be a slam dunk. Take TJ's semi-popular Jingle Jangle and mix into vanilla ice cream! Sounds like an easy yum! Can't go wrong, can you? does. Where to start? Let's go with the vanilla base. Now, I have a deep appreciation for good vanilla ice cream, and TJ's happens to provide one of the better store varieties out there. This Jingle Jangle stuff must come from a different supplier, because it's so...non-descript. Run of the mill. The most boring of boring vanillas. It's white, milky, vaguely sugared, and cold, which while that can describe vanilla, it's not really vanilla. It's uninspired low premium filler at best.

Not a big deal, you may think. That's why all the Jingle Jangle is in there....for flavor! That'll make up for it! Hate to say, but no, not really. I had to recheck our Jingle Jangle review to see what's even in it, because all I tasted was cold, hard chunks. And that's even when my spoon came across something - there's not a whole lot mixed in. There's little specs of dark chocolate this and that everywhere. I spotted a couple busted peanut butter cups here and there, and was excited when I found a shard of choco-covered pretzel, only to be dismayed when I bit into it and discovered how soggy it felt.

Major bummer. This ice cream is really rather ho-ho-ho hum. Now it's two seasonal products in a row I've reviewed that I've not overly liked. this time around it's not just me. Even Sandy didn't really enjoy it much either. The kids seemed to like it fine, which shows how easily content they are. I could really learn from that. Anyways, I'm not expecting to see this in our dessert mix again anytime soon.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Jingle Jangle Ice Cream: 3.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Trader Joe's Gelato Filled Panettone

This item wants to be eaten like a cupcake. I mean, look at it. It's got "icing" on the top with mini chocolate chips instead of sprinkles, a body made of something bready and cakey, a liner/wrapper thing, plus a yummy creamy filling. 

On the other hand, when I eat things like this with my hands, I tend to look like a baby by the end of it. Some part of the pastry winds up on my fingers, my face...and often in my lap, and I'm sitting there helplessly flailing around trying to lick some of the dessert out of my goatee. Not that babies have goatees. And not that there's anything wrong with getting in touch with one's inner child—however, I'm not nearly as comfortable with wearing my food as most infants are.

So I opted for the refined adult approach. I broke out a real metal fork and our finest dish (which happens to be made of plastic right now—don't ask). I set the thawed panettone in the middle of it, and dug right in. At first bite, I was mesmerized. Part of me wished I had opted to eat it with my hands so I could shovel it into my face faster. But then that seldom heard-from and even more seldom listened-to adult voice rang out in my head: "Slow down, my friend. This dessert wants to be relished and appreciated."

Because it's awesome—by far the best panettone we've had from TJ's. It's still the same fluffy, soft bread, and it still has some interesting dried fruits in it, but man oh man, that gelato is just amazing. It's both sweet and sophisticated—worthy of a top-notch Italian restaurant. It's worth using a fork just so one can measure out equal parts of gelato, cake, dried fruit, and chocolate bits in each and every bite.

Since the gelato is vanilla bean and there are lots of tasty chocolate drops, there's almost a cookies n' cream vibe about it. It's amazingly rich and creamy, and it blends together with the panettone bread and dried fruit much better than I would have guessed. 

There are pieces of candied orange peel, which I'm admittedly not a fan of just by themselves, but in this case they were so tiny that their texture was a complete non-issue. I thought they flaunted a poignant citrusy zing that really added something nice to the other elements. There were only a couple raisins, but they worked somehow, too. I could have sworn I saw a dried cranberry in there as well, but it may have just been a raisin with a sunburn or something.

If you like good gelato and/or panettone, go ahead and pick this up and thank me later. It's one of the best desserts I've had in a while.

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

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